Chiropractic Adjustments 101

When considering treatment options, one powerful tool to consider is the Chiropractic Adjustment. This will help you understand what a great technique this can be and when it is a useful option.

What is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

The main purpose of an adjustment is to induce motion where movement is lacking. We call the area to be adjusted a “fixation” or “subluxation.”

Think of the body like a series of circuit breakers. If all the circuits are open, information and forces are transferred easily from one area to another. If an area becomes restricted, or one circuit is closed, the entire system is disrupted.

Although many people only think of adjusting in the spine, adjustments can be used in any joint in the body.
Why might I need an adjustment?

Adjustments are very powerful tools. For our purposes at MSWC, they are most commonly used to:

  • control pain
  • break muscle spasm
  • improve joint mobility
  • increase range of motion
  • stimulate neurological input


Adjustments are a hands-on way to correct and re-set improper movement patterns developed over time. Adjusting is used to help correct body mechanics, including “upper and lower cross syndrome.”

Additional benefits include:

  • boosted immune system
  • reduction in blood pressure
  • improved sinus/ear drainage
  • reduced symptoms from acid reflux and gastric ulcers
  • reduction/control of menstrual cramps
  • reduction in dizziness/ringing in the ears
  • improvement in ADHD/mental focus
  • control of ear infections in children
  • many more


Adjusting Techniques/Types of Adjusting

There are over 200 “techniques” for adjusting that research has shown to be very safe and effective for treating a number of conditions. However, some techniques have been more heavily researched than others. Research has shown to be very safe and effective for treating a number of conditions. We use 5-6 of the most researched and supported techniques: Diversified, Flexion-Distraction, Drop Technique, Activator, Extremity/Toggle Board.

Some techniques may create popping/cracking, others do not. Some require movement of the spine or body part, others do not. Some are higher force than others. Your case, your concerns, and the purpose of using the adjustment will change which techniques are used.

Why might I NOT need an adjustment?

Pain may be caused by restriction, but even more frequently, pain is present in an area of instability. Think of mobility and stability as opposite sides of a teeter-totter. The two must be in balance for proper function!!



Instability is not equal to “loose;” it is defined by how well surrounding muscles and tissues reinforce the area. Although individual joint fixations may be present in these areas, adjusting in chronically unstable regions perpetuates the problem. In these cases, the goal is to teach the intrinsic muscles how to properly support the area. In some situations, adjusting may be used in adjacent regions which have become chronically restricted to help balance overall movement patterns.

Many patients have experienced relief from past adjustments and are confused when adjusting is not part of their treatment plan. It is important to recognize you will typically feel short-term relief by using adjustments in an area of instability. The powerful benefits for which we otherwise use adjusting still apply! However, without re-stabilizing, long-term benefits are not likely to follow.

Although this topic is controversial, I do believe there is such a thing as over-adjusting. By repetitively adjusting an area (inducing motion where it is lacking), an area of extreme mobility is created. Many times, these adjustments are not coupled with stabilizing exercises or activities and therefore the teeter totter is thrown off balance.

-Dr. Therese Miller, DC

Miller Sports & Wellness Chiropractic
About the Author
Miller Sports and Wellness (MSWC) is a team of movement specialists trained to help patients understand their unique movement and lifestyle habits to optimize their body's performance. MSWC is headed by Dr. Therese Miller, a Chiropractor with training in Active Release Technique® (ART®), a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist and overall fitness fanatic. Dr Miller loves to help patients create balance in their bodies by uncovering movement inefficiencies to get to the root cause of their pain and movement dysfunction.

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