Chiropractic manipulation or adjustments (see what makes joints ‘pop’), which use controlled directed force to release joint locking, help the joints to find their more natural alignment. The adjustment improves blood circulation to help the healing process and nerve stimulation to inactive or unresponsive muscles, whilst reducing the nerve stimulation to over-active muscles, all of which can result in weakness and poor joint stability if not treated.
Aligning the joints – ‘Putting bones back into place’
Muscle contraction around a joint may pull it out of its neutral “aligned” position so the bones appear “out of place”. Chiropractic adjustment releases the locking in the muscles, or joint capsules, that allows the body to find it’s neutral position. Certainly clients can feel more aligned sometimes after treatment and often remark that they feel taller, less stooped and can move more freely.
The client or patient needs to be as relaxed as possible and learn not to hold the breath or tense at the moment of the adjustment. For a Chiropractor to adjust the joint:
- The joints need to be moved to the comfortable limit of stretch or mobilisation, to the elastic barrier to remove any slack in the joint.
- The joint is moved in a quick split-second stretch beyond the active range, but not beyond the anatomical limit. The joint ‘crack’ with the gas release causes a neurological response, which creates a wave of relaxation within the joint tissues, thereby restoring mobility.
- If ligaments or joint capsules have been physically shortened over a period of time, they adapt a new ‘habitual’ degree of tension. After adjustment the joint will tend to stiffen back into it’s ‘habitual’ tension pattern, although usually not to the same extent as before the adjustment. In time, with repeated adjustments and care not to avoid habits in our daily lives that stress the joint, it will improve.
Tailoring treatment to the individual
Although a principal Chiropractic treatment method is joint adjustment or manipulation, there are a wide variety of treatments used, making it effective for all ages or for those who require a more gentle approach. The art of Chiropractic is to learn how to tailor the treatment to each individual and even with experience, understanding how each client responds to treatment is a learning curve.
Joint manipulation relaxes the surrounding muscles
Chiropractic adjustment helps further to balance the muscles surrounding a joint: some muscles may be over-tight or in spasm, and adjustment loosens the muscles, improves blood circulation, removes excess toxins and lactic acid where the tightness has resulted in a lack of oxygen reaching the muscles. Others may be inactive or unresponsive, and both result in weakness and poor joint stability. Treatment reduces the nerve stimulation to the over-responsive muscles, whilst improving the responsiveness of the under-active muscles.
The focus of Chiropractic treatment is to reduce the associated muscle spasm, restore joint mobility and decrease the inflammation to allow the injury to heal without more permanent joint or muscle tightness setting in.
Long-term effects of injury
Scar tissue forms like a glue to bond the torn tissue back together, but can create inflammation or swelling. Scar tissue will continue to form past six weeks and up to a year after the event in severe back injuries. Chiropractic treatment soon after an injury can help reduce the excess muscle spasm and joint locking and helps to minimize the swelling and inflammation. Further treatment can help to break down the excess scar tissue to hep the joints and muscles regain their normal flexibility and reduce the chance of further injury. Whilst exercise is appropriate for breaking down scar tissue once the injury has healed, it may further irritate the torn fibres during the initial stages, just as equally being too inactive can cause further muscle spasm. Chiropractors especially are very keen on unlocking the tight joints with manipulation if appropriate, releasing the muscle spasm with deep soft tissue massage, keeping active in a manner that helps the injury and promotes healing and relaxing the back.
Main benefits of Chiropractic treatment
- Support and protect the muscles
- Help muscles loosen up and lessen the pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Help break down excess scar tissue in the muscles and ligaments to help restore normal flexibility
To see for yourself what Chiropractic can do, please don’t hesitate to contact the Back Care Clinic.