Chiropractic adjustments have several benefits; listed below are ten different clinical utilities for how fast joint manipulation can benefit the musculoskeletal system.
1. Lower Back Pain Relief
Lower back pain is the most prevalent musculoskeletal issue worldwide and is a cause of lost wages and productivity. The chiropractic adjustment to the lower back restores range of motion, decreases pain, and stretches the joint capsules, which sends a reflex to the central nervous system to reduce pain and stimulate the muscle spindles of the multifidus lumborum muscle for pain relief. A study found that spinal manipulation of the lumbar spine can increase muscle tone in the multifidus lumborum muscles, which contract before all core muscles to protect the spine during movements. A high velocity, low amplitude thrust to the lumbar spine is a perfect intervention for acute lower back pain.
2. Neck Pain Relief
Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck? The second most common reason to visit a chiropractor is for the cervical spine. Manipulation helps restore the range of motion within the joints and decrease muscle spasms and pain.
3. Migraine Relief
Many kinds of headaches, whether they come from the neck, are caused by stress, or are migraines due to chemical issues, can be treated by spinal manipulation to the upper cervical spine, which consists of the occipitoatlantal joint, the atlantoaxial joint, and the C2-C3 joint. When irritation happens to the upper cervical spine, the incoming signals from the top three spinal nerves figuratively hitchhike with the cranial nerve, which gives the scalp and face sensation to tell us that something is wrong with the neck.
Spinal pathology manifesting as headaches is known as the Convergence Theory, and there is extensive evidence for it being a non-pharmacological intervention for migraine and headaches. The rapid stretching of the muscle spindles of the suboccipital muscles inherent in adjusting the upper cervical spine can cause immediate relief and decrease the intensity and frequency of headaches. When these adjustments are coupled with chin tuck exercises to stretch the suboccipital and strengthen the longus colli and longus capitus, you should notice a decrease in headaches in both the short-term and long-term!
4. Rib Pain Relief
Most people refer to this as a “rib out,” where people feel a sharp pain in their upper back that feels stiff and painful when they inhale and exhale. This is often due to stiffness and loss of mobility in the costotransverse joints, which are the synovial joints between the ribs and vertebrae. Chiropractic adjustments can help restore range of motion in these joints and make breathing less painful overall!
5. Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
For anyone with pain in the elbow or wrist, the elbow and wrist are also synovial joints that could be manipulated to help rehabilitate conditions such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Whether you’re typing at a keyboard all day for work, a golfer or tennis player, or a mechanic or contractor constantly gripping and using your hands, extremity adjusting to the elbow and wrist could benefit you.
6. Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy, Shoulder Impingement, or Posterior Capsule Tightness Relief
Conditions such as wear-and-tear of the rotator cuff tendons, the humeral head hitting underneath the coracoacromial arch trapping the supraspinatus tendon in between, or tight pain in the back of the shoulder are essentially all a manifestation of the same issue. When the rotator cuff muscles weaken, they fail to keep the head depressed when bringing the arm overhead. Athletes who do a lot of forward swinging are subjected to high tensile forces in the back of the shoulder. Rotator cuff muscles, such as the teres minor and infraspinatus, are meant to protect the shoulder by decelerating that internal rotation inherent in pitching.
This results in the back of the shoulder becoming fibrotic and stiff to protect the shoulder, which ends up pushing the head of the humerus forward and up. The back of the shoulder becomes stiff, and the front of the shoulder becomes loose. The chiropractic adjustment helps send the head of the humerus back and down, which will help restore motion to the back of the shoulder. This type of adjustment, coupled with rotator cuff strengthening, will help keep the humeral head down when raising the arm overhead and help the athlete who is constantly pitching or swinging a tennis racket. Also, adhesive capsulitis patients whose joint capsules have become thickened can benefit from shoulder adjusting since the point of adjusting is to stretch the joint capsule and restore range of motion.
7. Sacroiliac Joint Relief
The SI Joint is where the spine meets the pelvis. Up to 30% of low back pain originates from the SI joint. You may have felt the pain of SI joint dysfunction as a dull achy pain at the lowest point of your lower back that you can pinpoint. Chiropractic manipulations can decrease pain and restore function to the SI joint.
8. Hip Joint Relief
If you ever suffer from stiff hip joints, tight hip flexors, glute tightness, hip pain, or even low back pain, you may be a candidate for a hip adjustment. It is often thought that a lack of hip rotational ability increases the likelihood of low back pain. When the hip joints stiffen, often from underuse, immobility, or weakness, the lower back and trunk will have to move inappropriately to make up for the lack of motion in the hips. Chiropractic adjustments to the hips are important for the entire kinetic chain.
9. Ankle Sprain Relief
If you’ve ever rolled your ankle playing basketball or soccer, you know the pain and swelling that makes it difficult to walk, let alone return to play! Most ankle sprains are inversion sprains where the ankle gets unevenly compressed, rolling the foot down and in. The chiropractic adjustment can help decompress the sprained ankle. By carefully stretching the joint capsule without compromising the sprained ligaments, we can decrease pain and restore range of motion into the ankle to rehab the ankle sooner, thus allowing the athlete to return to play stronger.
10. Knee Pain Relief
Joint stiffness. Meniscus issues. Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Many knee joint issues have an underlying hypomobility associated with them. If you’ve ever heard the expression “my knees feel like they’re bone-on-bone,” you would know how stiff, achy and painful they may feel. While compression can’t be avoided due to gravity when we stand, a chiropractic adjustment to help decompress the joint made by the shin and thigh can alleviate the pain and stiffness the knee is known to have. Meniscus pathology is due to this as well. Continuous uneven distribution of loading to one side of the knee can irritate the meniscus of that overly compressed side. Chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate these issues as well. If there is an existing ligament injury, or if you’ve just undergone surgery meant to restore stability like an ACL reconstruction, then these knee manipulations are off-limits for you until long after the graft has healed. But for the remainder of knee issues such as stiffness, meniscus pathology, or patellar tendinopathy, chiropractic adjustments are a fantastic remedy for your conditions.
A chiropractic adjustment ultimately is an effective tool for relieving pain and restoring the range of motion for different synovial joints across the musculoskeletal system. The profound effects of the manipulation on the neck, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, hip, foot, and ankle are why it is beneficial to get adjusted.