You may have heard people say they went to the chiropractor and “got their back cracked.” What exactly happens during this procedure? The technical term for this is a grade five mobilization, or thrust manipulation. There are grades 1-5 of joint mobilizations in the manual therapy world. Grade 5 is when a joint is positioned at its end range, then a quick, but small, overpressure is given to joint with the goal of achieving normal range of motion. The patient’s body is positioned in a way to get the optimal result from the manipulation.
What is that sound?
An adjustment is often accompanied by an audible “pop.” This is called cavitation. The physical manipulation to the joint creates a drop in pressure inside the joint, releasing a small amount of gas from the fluid inside the joint. This sudden release of gas creates the sound. There is no injury to the bone itself during a thrust manipulation. While the sound can make the patient feel like the manipulation was successful, this is not a necessary byproduct of a successful adjustment. Manipulations can provide immediate decrease in pain and improve range of motion at the targeted joint or segment of the spine. The overall goal is to achieve proper alignment of the spine or other joint being addressed.
What if this makes me anxious?
There is absolutely no reason to be nervous about having an adjustment performed. Your provider will not perform an adjustment if it is not indicated. If a patient is very painful or nervous, a thrust manipulation may not be the best course of treatment. Lower grade mobilizations can work well to increase range of motion and decrease pain. There are also a plethora of other techniques chiropractors and physical therapists use to achieve these goals. Functional mobilization and joint pumping are just two examples. These techniques have the patient actively perform movement or resist the practitioner in different positions so that your muscles actually help move the joint being addressed.
After the adjustment, am I fixed?
Adjustments are a great tool for restoring alignment, increasing range of motion, and decreasing pain. However, the question is always what caused this problem in the first place? Poor posture, under active muscles, bad form with workouts, and more can lead to spinal and joint pain. These factors must be corrected, or the problem will arise again. This is where comprehensive chiropractic care and physical therapy come in to truly correct the problem and fix it once and for all. At Performance Rehab Associates, we work by this motto of healing the problem, correcting the deficiencies that led to it, and giving you tools for prevention so you can live your best life!