, Gloucester, MA


February 15, 2013

What's the pop and should it hurt?

Spinal manipulation questions answered

Spinal manipulation has been one of the most widely utilized and popular forms of therapy for patients with neck or back pain.

Commonly applied by bone setters, the first documented use of manipulation predates the Greek philosopher Socrates in 470 B.C. making it the oldest form of manual therapy in recorded history. In modern times, we call these clinicians physical therapists and chiropractors, and they use spinal manipulative techniques regularly to mitigate spinal problems.

Spine pain is akin to the human experience just as much as death, taxes or any other commonality shared by everyone in the world. While unpleasant, there’s nearly a 100 percent chance it will happen to you, significantly, at one point in time.

Our treatment techniques, decision algorithms and research methods have dramatically improved our ability to deliver spinal manipulation to patients — especially so in the last decade.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding spinal manipulation techniques. If you’re still curious, speak with a trusted physical therapist or chiropractor to see if you’re a candidate for treatment.

Can spinal manipulation help pain that radiates into my arms and legs? Nearly all cases of referred pain into the extremities respond well to manipulation. By itself, it is generally not enough of a modality to keep pain away for good, so expect some other interventions at your appointment.

Do adjustments hurt? Most adjustments are painless. There are some that can be mildly uncomfortable, but that should only last for a second or two.

Is it common to be sore later on in the day? Absolutely. Spinal manipulative therapy moves and stretches the spine — sometimes in dramatic fashion. Consider it the pain of accommodating to proper alignment.

Can joints really be out of alignment? There’s no research study or any other empirical evidence to suggest that a bone is out of place — or that we’re putting it back with treatment. All we know is that patients who seek treatment because their back feels “out of whack” often leave feeling “straightened out.”

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