Depending on the source of the problem, this term could be describing something quite dramatic, like being in an accident, but it’s not.
For many years this has been a common term used to describe what a Dr. of Chiropractic does. These days the profession is more likely to use a term like manipulation of the spinal joints.
The spine is the most complex mechanism in the human body containing some 29 major joints and over 150 muscles. It is the primary structure for protecting and distributing nerve innervation for the whole body: Nerves that supply the body and the brain with all the information they need for proper function.
This process is made possible by small cavities or ‘foramen’, between the vertebrae of the spine through which the nerves for different parts and body and organs emanate from the central spinal canal. A healthy and balanced positioning of these gaps is essential for spinal health.
If the gap reduces in size for any reason, or is positioned badly, the nerve innervation may be irritated or inhibited. This can easily occur following even a minor accident like falling over, twisting, lifting something, or RSS (repetitive stress syndrome) sometimes caused by sitting in one position for too long on a daily basis.
The trauma, no matter how slight, can cause the muscles of the spine to spasm, in order to protect the joint from further injury. This in turn can inhibit the blood flow to the area and affect the organ being supplied by the nerves in that position. It can also result in quite severe pain.
This may also result in twisting the spine slightly in such a way as to cause a very slight curvature of the spine. The body compensates for this misdirection by creating other curves in the spine as a result. This condition is commonly known as scoliosis.
Spinal curvatures are very common and problems associated with different focal points on the apex of the curves and even the organs supplied are also common. A term you may hear used in the profession, is a “sub-luxation” of the joint. It is in easing, and correcting these sub-luxations that a chiropractor focuses on.
When performing the manipulations there is often an audible ‘cracking’ sound. You may have heard someone crack their knuckles, or seen martial artists doing it with their necks in fight scenes. This is caused by a rapid opening and closing of the joint space.
When performed along with specific massage and other treatments to the area, ‘adjustments’ to the spine can reset the joint and reduce the inflammations and misalignments associated with the sub-luxation.
Chiropractors, osteopaths and naturopaths all have their own methods of performing these manipulations. The positive results can be felt instantaneously, or even over some weeks of therapy depending on all factors involved.