We correct (adjust) this by applying quick bursts of pressure (manipulation) to targeted areas of the spine with our hands while the patient lies prone on a padded but firm table. The pressure realigns the spine and eases pain. There is no physical impact, as our palms remain on the patient’s back even when we’re not applying pressure to it. But there is a significant therapeutic impact — it’s effective on all three areas of the spine, hence diversified – which is a big reason why it’s the most common kind of chiropractic manipulation.
Adjustment and manipulation are the source of the popping sounds popularly associated with chiropractic treatment, which come not from bones moving around but from expanding and bursting gas bubbles in a joint’s synovial fluid. The gas is released when pressure is applied to the back sufficiently lowers pressure in the joint by forcing open more space between the bony parts – a process called cavitation. While the popping itself is nothing to either worry or be glad about and doesn’t usually prove painful, the release of gas it signals may bring relief and augur therapeutic success. In addition to, and often as a result of, reducing pressure in the joint, diversified adjustment and manipulation reduce inflammation and enhance nerve function. And they’re non-invasive and don’t involve medication.