What Is Spinal Manipulation?
There are an estimated 100 adjustment techniques practiced by chiropractors around the world, though most experts will perfect up to 10 of them. In general, the goal of these techniques is to restore or enhance joint function in order to deal with inflammation of the joints and also to reduce the level of pain felt by the patient. While there are “gentle” techniques used by chiropractors, such as spinal mobilization, it is sometimes necessary to use force, and this is where spinal manipulation comes into play.
High Velocity – Low Amplitude (HVLA)
This is one of the oldest and most commonly used spinal manipulation techniques in the field of chiropractic care. It is generally used to treat pain in the neck, mid-back, and lower back areas, with the latter issue the most common complaint. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 65 percent of patients who used chiropractic treatment for back pain said they received “great benefit” from it.
There are a multitude of HVLA techniques used by experienced chiropractors, but we look at three of the most common below:
- Diversified Technique
This is typically associated with manual chiropractic treatment and involves a short and quick thrust over a patient’s restricted joints. One joint is treated at a time, and the overall goal is to restore a normal range of motion in the treated joints. In order to optimize the spinal adjustment, a chiropractor will place the patient’s body in a number of different positions.
- Thompson Terminal Point Technique
A chiropractor requires a special table for this treatment; such tables have various sections which drop down a small distance during an HVLA thrust. It is believed that the dropping sections help to facilitate a joint’s movement. As the cracking sound associated with spinal manipulation does not necessarily occur, this is deemed to be a milder approach.
- Gonstead Adjustment
This technique is similar to an HVLA adjustment, but the body positioning and evaluation of the problem joint is different. A chiropractor may elect to use special tables and chairs to get the right position for the patient’s body, depending on the issue.
Effectiveness for Lower Back Pain
According to a study that will be published in the July 2014 edition of The Spine Journal, 12 chiropractic treatments for lower back pain are superior to a similar number of light massage sessions in terms of providing pain relief. NIH research over the years has also determined that chiropractic treatment for lower back pain is more effective than most alternatives.
In 2011, a review of 26 clinical trials concluded that spinal manipulation was at least as effective as any other treatment for lower back pain. A 2010 NIH review of treatments for chronic back pain showed that spinal manipulation was extremely effective.
Therefore, if you are suffering from chronic back pain, particularly pain in the lower back, you should strongly consider spinal manipulation from a qualified chiropractor above other therapies if you want the best results.
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