How Are Chiropractor Spinal Adjustments Performed?

Chiropractor spinal adjustments are a key component of chiropractic care, effectively relieving musculoskeletal issues. Spinal adjustments, also known as spinal manipulative therapy, involve the application of controlled force to specific joints in the spine. This therapeutic technique aims to restore proper alignment, improve mobility, and alleviate pain. Understanding how chiropractors perform spinal adjustments can shed light on the benefits of this widely-used treatment. This article delves into the process, techniques, and advantages of chiropractic spinal adjustments, offering a comprehensive overview for those seeking spine pain relief.

What is a Spinal Adjustment?

A spinal adjustment is a manual therapy technique performed by chiropractors to correct misalignments in the spine, known as subluxations. These misalignments can interfere with the nervous system, leading to pain, inflammation, and impaired function. By realigning the vertebrae, spinal adjustments aim to enhance nervous system function, reduce pain, and improve overall health.

The Concept of Subluxation

The concept of subluxation is central to chiropractic care. It refers to a partial dislocation or misalignment of a vertebra, which can disrupt nerve communication and lead to various health issues. Chiropractors believe correcting these subluxations through spinal adjustments can promote the body’s natural healing processes and restore optimal function.

Goals of Spinal Adjustments

The primary goals of spinal adjustments are to:

  • Restore proper alignment: Correcting vertebral misalignments to improve spinal function.
  • Alleviate pain: Reducing pressure on nerves and muscles to relieve pain.
  • Enhance mobility: Improving joint function and range of motion.
  • Promote overall health: Supporting the body’s natural healing processes by improving nervous system function.

How Chiropractors Perform Spinal Adjustments

Chiropractors use their hands or specialized instruments to perform spinal adjustments. The process typically involves a thorough evaluation, preparation, and the application of precise techniques to ensure effective and safe treatment.

Initial Evaluation

Before performing a spinal adjustment, chiropractors conduct a comprehensive evaluation to understand the patient’s condition and identify areas of concern. This evaluation includes:

  • Medical history: Review the patient’s health history, symptoms, and previous treatments.
  • Physical examination: Assessing posture, range of motion, and spinal alignment.
  • Diagnostic tests: Utilizing X-rays or other imaging studies to visualize the spine and identify subluxations.


Once the evaluation is complete, the chiropractor prepares the patient for the adjustment. This preparation may involve:

  • Patient positioning: Place the patient in a specific position to access the targeted spinal segment.
  • Relaxation techniques: Using techniques such as breathing exercises or soft tissue manipulation to relax the muscles.

The Adjustment

The spinal adjustment itself involves the application of a controlled, sudden force to a specific joint. The chiropractor may use their hands or a specialized instrument to perform the adjustment. Techniques vary but often include:

  • High-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust: A quick, forceful movement to adjust the vertebrae.
  • Mobilisation: A gentler, slower movement to stretch and align the joint.
  • Instrument-assisted adjustment: Using an activator or other instrument to deliver a precise adjustment.

Techniques Used in Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractors employ various techniques to perform spinal adjustments, each tailored to the patient’s specific needs and condition. Some of the most common techniques include:

Diversified Technique

The diversified technique is one of the most widely used chiropractic adjustment methods. It involves high-velocity, low-amplitude thrusts to specific vertebrae to restore alignment and improve function. This technique is known for its effectiveness in treating a wide range of musculoskeletal issues.

Gonstead Technique

The Gonstead technique focuses on a detailed analysis of spinal misalignments using X-rays and physical examination. Adjustments are performed with precision, often using a specific hand placement and thrust to correct the misalignment.

Activator Method

The activator method uses a small, handheld instrument called an activator to deliver a controlled, low-force adjustment. This technique is especially useful for patients who require a gentler approach, such as those with osteoporosis or children.

Thompson Drop-Table Technique

The Thompson drop-table technique utilises a special table with sections that drop slightly when a thrust is applied. This drop mechanism enhances the force of the adjustment while minimising discomfort for the patient.

Flexion-Distraction Technique

The flexion-distraction technique is commonly used to treat conditions such as herniated discs and sciatica. It involves a specialised table that gently stretches and flexes the spine, allowing the chiropractor to perform precise adjustments.

Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments offer numerous benefits beyond spinal pain relief. These benefits include improved mobility, enhanced nervous system function, and overall better health and well-being.

Pain Relief

One of the primary benefits of chiropractic adjustments is pain relief. By correcting spinal misalignments, chiropractors can reduce pressure on nerves and muscles, alleviating pain in the back, neck, and other areas.

Improved Mobility

Spinal adjustments can improve joint function and range of motion, allowing patients to move more freely and comfortably. This increased mobility can enhance overall quality of life and enable individuals to participate in daily activities with greater ease.

Enhanced Nervous System Function

Correcting spinal misalignments can improve nervous system function by reducing nerve interference. This enhancement can lead to better communication between the brain and the body, promoting overall health and well-being.

Preventative Care

Regular chiropractic adjustments can serve as preventative care, helping to maintain spinal alignment and prevent future injuries or health issues. By addressing minor misalignments before they become significant problems, patients can enjoy long-term health benefits.

Common Conditions Treated with Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments are effective in treating a wide range of conditions, particularly those related to the musculoskeletal system. Some of the most common conditions treated with chiropractic adjustments include:

Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons individuals seek chiropractic care. Spinal adjustments can alleviate back pain by correcting misalignments, reducing muscle tension, and improving spinal function.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is another frequent complaint addressed by chiropractors. Adjustments to the cervical spine can relieve pressure on nerves, reduce muscle tension, and alleviate pain.

Headaches and Migraines

Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines by improving spinal alignment and reducing nerve irritation.


Sciatica, characterised by pain that radiates down the leg, can be effectively treated with chiropractic adjustments. By addressing misalignments in the lower spine, chiropractors can reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve and alleviate pain.


Whiplash, often resulting from car accidents, can cause significant neck pain and stiffness. Chiropractic adjustments can help restore proper alignment and improve mobility in the cervical spine.

Sports Injuries

Chiropractors frequently treat sports injuries, helping athletes recover from injuries and improve performance. Spinal adjustments can enhance joint function, reduce pain, and support overall musculoskeletal health.


Chiropractor spinal adjustments are a highly effective treatment for various musculoskeletal conditions, offering numerous benefits such as pain relief, improved mobility, and enhanced nervous system function. At Be Fit Chiro, our experienced chiropractors utilise a range of techniques tailored to each patient’s unique needs, ensuring safe and effective treatment. By addressing spinal misalignments and promoting overall health, we help our patients achieve lasting relief and improved quality of life. If you’re experiencing spine pain or other musculoskeletal issues, contact Be Fit Chiro today to schedule a consultation and start your journey toward better health.

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Phil Dyer
Phil Dyer
Be fit chiro has been a game change having suffered chronic neck and back pain after two slipped discs the treatment and sessions have helped me gain knowledge and confidence back , can’t thank them enough
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I've been coming to be fit Chiro for a short while now to help with my neck and back pain. Dr Anthony recommended the water pillow he sells in his practice to help - at first I was a little skeptical but after 3 weeks of use, I don't wake up with a stiff neck or neck pain any more. Super easy to use and you can change how firm you want it depending on how much water you fill inside. Thanks for the suggestion! I've told all my girlfriends about it as well!
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