Chiropractic care is a health discipline that emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. Historical accounts trace the roots of this practice back to the late 19th century when Daniel David Palmer, a self-taught healer, performed the first spinal adjustment on a partially deaf janitor, Harvey Lillard, who reported that his hearing improved after the treatment.

In this article, you will learn about the different types of chiropractic adjustments.

Definition and Principles

Chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is the most common therapeutic procedure performed by chiropractors. The technique involves applying controlled force to the spine or other parts of the body in order to correct alignment issues, improve bodily function, and support the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

History of Chiropractic Practices

The development of chiropractic started with its founding by D.D. Palmer in the 1890s. Since then, it has grown into a well-recognized and frequently used health care practice. It was initially met with much resistance from the established medical community, but over the decades, it has gained greater acceptance and is now considered a legitimate and effective form of medical care.

Different Types of Chiropractic Adjustments

There are several techniques used in the field of chiropractic care, each serving different needs and providing various benefits. The choice of technique is often influenced by the patient’s condition, age, body structure, and personal preferences.

Flexion-Distraction Technique

Flexion-Distraction, or Cox Technic, is utilized to address back pain and spinal disc issues with a gentle, non-force adjustment involving a special table that helps to extend and decompress the spine. This technique reduces pressure on the spinal nerves and can help with conditions like sciatica.

Gonstead Adjustment

This technique focuses on specific adjustment, precisely and effectively targeting only the problem areas of the spine. Developed by Clarence Gonstead in the mid-20th century, it helps restore normal disc alignment and reduce pain.

Activator Method

The Activator Method uses a small, hand-held device called an Activator to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine, aiming to restore motion to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint. It’s a favorite for patients who prefer a softer approach than manual adjustments.

Thompson Drop-Table Technique

The Thompson Technique utilizes a precision adjustment table with a dropping mechanism. The chiropractor applies a quick thrust as the section of the table drops, allowing for a deeper yet more comfortable adjustment without heavy force.

Diversified Technique

Perhaps the most common chiropractic technique, the Diversified Technique is characterized by a high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust that restores proper movement and alignment to the spine and joint dysfunction.

Spinal Mobilization

For patients requiring a gentler approach, spinal mobilization involves more passive movements, such as stretching and gentle pressure, to achieve similar outcomes to those of more forceful thrusts.

Specific Applications of Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic techniques can be applied to a wide range of conditions. Each technique offers unique benefits and is suitable for specific types of injuries or ailments.

Treating Lower Back Pain

Chiropractic adjustments are particularly effective in treating lower back pain, one of the most common reasons people visit a chiropractor. Techniques such as Flexion-Distraction are beneficial for conditions involving herniated discs or sciatica.

Addressing Neck and Shoulder Issues

Techniques like the Gonstead or Diversified adjustments are very effective in treating pain and misalignments in the neck and shoulder area, often providing immediate relief from discomfort.

Chiropractic Approaches to Headaches and Migraines

Chiropractic adjustments, particularly those targeting the neck and upper back, can be highly effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines.

Benefits and Risks of Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic care offers numerous health benefits, including improved nerve function, reduced pain and inflammation, and enhanced mobility. However, like any treatment, it also carries risks, which are typically minor but can include discomfort in treated areas.

Health Benefits

Regular chiropractic adjustments can help to alleviate pain, improve spinal function, enhance bodily function, and boost wellness. They are also known to improve posture and physical performance.

Potential Risks and How to Mitigate

While chiropractic adjustments are generally safe when performed by a certified professional, there are potential risks such as minor discomfort, fatigue, or temporary increase in pain. Serious complications are rare but can include nerve damage and, very rarely, stroke from neck manipulation. To minimize risks, patients should ensure they are treated by a licensed and experienced chiropractor and always disclose their full health history.

Choosing the Right Chiropractic Treatment

Finding the right chiropractic treatment involves understanding your health needs and preferences. A proper consultation with a chiropractor will help determine the most effective technique for your specific condition.

Assessing Your Needs

Before choosing a technique, consider factors such as the severity of your symptoms, your pain tolerance, and any past experiences with chiropractic care. Understanding these factors will help your chiropractor develop a more effective treatment plan.

Consultation and Diagnosis

During your initial consultation, your chiropractor will perform a thorough examination, which may include X-rays or other diagnostic tests to understand the underlying causes of your symptoms. This step is crucial for crafting a precise and safe chiropractic care plan.

Questions to Ask Your Chiropractor

To ensure that you receive the best possible care, ask questions about your chiropractor’s qualifications, experience, and approach to treatment. Inquire about the risks and benefits of recommended techniques and what outcomes you can expect.

Advancements in Chiropractic Techniques

The field of chiropractic care has seen significant technological advancements that have improved the precision and efficacy of treatments.

Recent Innovations

Recent innovations include the development of computer-assisted adjustment tools and more sophisticated diagnostic imaging that allows for greater accuracy in treatment planning and delivery. These advancements support chiropractors in providing more personalized and effective care.

The Role of Technology in Chiropractic Care

Technology plays a crucial role in modern chiropractic care, from advanced imaging techniques that provide a clearer picture of spinal issues to computerized adjustment tools that offer precise control over the intensity and angle of adjustments.


Chiropractic care is a valuable and effective treatment option for many people suffering from a variety of musculoskeletal issues. By understanding the different techniques and their specific applications, patients can make informed decisions about their health care.

Summary of Chiropractic Care Benefits

Chiropractic care offers numerous benefits for physical health, including improved mobility, pain relief, and enhanced overall wellness. It is a viable alternative to more invasive treatments such as surgery and prescription medications.

Final Thoughts on Choosing Chiropractic Care

If you are considering chiropractic care, it is important to choose a qualified practitioner and understand the potential risks and benefits. With the right chiropractor, chiropractic care can be a safe and effective way to improve your quality of life.