Chiropractic Techniques

Chiropractic Techniques

Chiropractors are trained as "whole person" health care professionals with an emphasis on the bio-mechanical influences upon the nervous system. The manner of adjustment to correct subluxations may vary according to the individual. Therefore, a lot depends on the patient, the practitioner, and the clinical situation.

Chiropractic is unlike conventional medicine where a particular drug is routinely given for all individuals with the same diagnosis. This variation sometimes creates misunderstanding between professional groups, and patients. Literature have clearly shown that appropriate spinal manipulative therapy by adjustment / manipulation improves function, reduces pain, and disability. The 'art' of performing an adjustment is a skill acquired through training, and practice. There is a variety of art forms, so there is no surprise for the occurrence of different techniques.

In general, chiropractic techniques can be divided into two categories - high velocity, low amplitude techniques, and low velocity, long lever methods. Often a practitioner will use parts of both techniques during a treatment. This is referred to as diversified technique. Diversified practitioners tend to use adjunctive physical therapies such as ultrasounds, traction, and electricity to assist healing. The main therapy is the removal of subluxations to improve, and restore proper joint motion.

High velocity, low amplitude Chiropractic techniques

Subluxations are corrected by utilizing a rapid thrust with the hand. Frequently, an audible release (clicking sound) is heard, although at certain stages of treatment, this may not occur. Frequently, chiropractors order X rays in the standing position to visualize the spine under the stress of gravity, establish a diagnosis, and choose the most appropriate correction, and line of thrust. The adjustments can be applied in many positions - sitting, lying, standing and side posture depending upon the clinical situation. Some common systems of 'specific' spinal adjusting by the hand are Gonstead, Mears, upper cervical toggle recoil adjusting (HIO), and motion palpation.

Low velocity, long lever Chiropractic techniques

In these techniques, the speed of the adjustment is reduced. These techniques use the arms, and legs to create more leverage, or use mechanical devises (the adjusting table, wedge shaped blocks under the pelvis, a hand held device known as an activator or muscle reflex points) to restore proper joint motion. Although appearing less forceful, movement does occur. Generally, audible clicking sounds are hot heard. Motion is established due to the relaxation of the holding elements around the joint (muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia).

Some common Chiropractic techniques are :

Sacro - Occipital Technique (SOT) :

Along with hand adjustments, this technique utilizes blocks in certain positions to balance the pelvis. Reflex techniques to certain muscles, and gentle pressure to the skull bones are used to balance a natural rhythm, which should exist during inspiration, and expiration between the base of the skull (occiput), and the base of the spine (sacrum)

Thompson Terminal Point Technique :

This is a commonly used technique which relies on leg length differences in certain body positions to determine where the adjustment ought to be given. The adjustments are done by hand, and assisted by sections of the treatment table dropping beneath the patient at the end of the thrust.

Activator Methods :

Originally conceived in the 1920s and popularized in the early 80s, the practitioner utilize a small hand held instrument to adjust segments indicated by leg length testing. As with many of these techniques, audible clicking of the joint may not be noticed. This method is often utilized in children, and elderly persons with brittle bones.

Cranio - Sacral Technique :

This is similar to SOT but more extensive in the assessment, and treatment of the skull. There appears, despite anatomical education, a very subtle motion during the respiratory process between the bones of the skull, and the spinal cord. Torsion in the membranes covering these structures can lead to a wide variety of symptoms. The pressure exerted during these maneuvers is very subtle - about 5 grams!

Strain - Counterstrain

A muscle technique aimed at restoring motion by using counter pressure in certain directions for periods of 30-90 seconds. It is very good for pain due to adhesions.

There are many other systems of assessment, and treatment of the subluxation complex, and musculoskeletal pain. This should not cause confusion, except for research scientists who acknowledge only standardization, and double blind controlled studies. This degree of 'knowledge' is an idealized concept, and not a clinical reality for all health care professionals. What is important is that underlying any technique is a core body of knowledge upon which can be supported under the scrutiny of the scientific method.

Chiropractic physicians as well as the general public can be confident of that foundation. Individuals only need to seek a practitioner to find out more about Chiropractic techniques that are helpful to them.

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