In western medical science, the treatment of back pain involves the repair of the body through physical therapy in order to build the strength of the muscles that support the delicate soft tissues of the spine. This treatment will be attempted after other more conservative treatments have failed to make the patient feel better. Conservative treatments include icing, massage therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and doing nothing at all.
When conservative treatments and physical therapy don't work, then doctors move on to more aggressive and invasive therapies such as steroid injections, narcotic pain meds, and even back surgery.
Patients who go the route of chiropractic treatments often decide to try chiropractic care rather than more invasive therapies after the standard treatments do not provide enough relief. Chiropractors believe that the source of pain in many patients is due to soft tissue injuries such as muscle tension and subtle misalignments of the joints. These subtle dislocations of the joints often don't show up on standard tests such as X-Rays and the tests performed by doctors as part of their physical examination.
As a result, doctors inappropriately treat patients or fail to treat them in the absence of a correct diagnosis. Tests performed during a chiropractor exam are designed to find joint problems that may have been previously undetected by the means of western science. Chiropractors then begin to provide the patient with accelerated relief by either breaking up areas of tightness of the affected muscles or by using various types of chiropractic manipulation to ease the dislocated joints back into their proper position.
This is what you may believe if you have been successfully treated this form of therapy or if you are a practitioner of chiropractic care.
The joints of the spine are meant to offer this structure a range of mobility, while providing enough structure that it is still joined as a unified whole. The joints of the spine are meant to offer a healthy range of motion, without moving so much as to destabilize the structure and put pressure on the spinal nerves.
Due to circumstances such as stress, injury, and advancing age, immobility may begin to occur in some of the joints, causing an increase in pressure and associated pain. This pain and discomfort may go away on its own as the rigid joint begins to heal itself, or the joint problem may continue, resulting in chronic pain and limited mobility.
Chiropractors may then step in early to help restore healthy functioning in the joints.
One way that chiropractors restore the spinal joints back to their previous level of functioning is chiropractic manipulation.
Chiropractic Manipulation: Chiropractic manipulation is also known as a chiropractic adjustment, manual manipulation, or spinal manipulation. This treatment involves the use of the hands of the chiropractor performing short, rapid thrusts to the patient's back after orienting the patient into a specific position. Various pieces of equipment may be used to orient the patient into specific positions, in preparation for the chiropractic manipulation. These pieces of equipment include tables and chairs. Various pieces of equipment may be used to enhance the treatment benefits of the manual adjustments, such as those that would be employed with the Thompson Terminal Point (or Drop) technique.
The objective of the patient's treatment program is to improve function, reduce nerve irritability, and increase range of motion. Some patients may experience immediate relief after the first adjustment is performed. Other patients with symptoms related to muscle spasms (back spasms) may have to wait a little longer until the muscles finally begin to relax.
Chiropractic manipulation typically involves:
- A high velocity, short lever arm thrust applied to the spine.
- An accompanying release of gas from the vertebral joints being manipulated. This release of gas is experienced as an audible "pop" caused by the joint cavitation.
- A decrease in joint pressure that follows the movement of the joint. This increase in joint pressure should be accompanied by a decrease in pressure of the nearby spinal nerves and joint pain relief.