What’s the Difference Between “Spinal Manipulation” and “Specific” Chiropractic Adjustments?

by Dr. Karen Cann on February 15, 2011

First of all, a chiropractic adjustment is the art of introducing a specific force in a precise direction, applied to a vertebra that is subluxated (misaligned).  There are numerous ways to adjust a spine. Each of the various techniques require a specific force and line of drive. The adjustment is delivered either by the doctor’s  hands or a specially-designed instrument. Some of the adjusting techniques are quick, while others require a slow constant pressure.

The ImpulseIQ is a gentle yet precise method that I use for chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractic adjustment techniques can be classified into 2 main categories based on the delivery mode:  “Spinal Manipulation” and “Specific” Adjustments

Spinal Manipulation consists of short, high force, high velocity thrusts applied by hand to a vertebra or extra-spinal joint. This is commonly accompanied by an audible sound, caused by the release of oxygen and various other gasses from the joint capsules.  As the joint moves quickly through its range of motion, it releases pressure. The sensation is often-times immediately relieving, though minor discomfort may occasionally be experienced. Overall, spinal manipulations are considered to be non-specific (also referred to as “gross adjustments”).

Specific AdjustingNot all spinal and extra-spinal manipulation is accomplished by hand. Many doctors of chiropractic also utilize modern mechanical instruments that deliver low force, high-speed, adjustive thrusts in precise force to specific vertebra, hence the term “specific” adjustments. These instruments involve low force techniques so they are the gentlest methods of adjusting the spine. They work very well for all age groups – from children to the elderly.  

I hold a certificate in ADVANCED Proficiency in Activator Methods.

The 2 chiropractic instrumental techniques that fall under this category are Activator and Impulse iQ. Both are patented and FDA registered devices. The Activator is a specifically-designed handheld instrument used by chiropractors to tap slightly misaligned vertebrae back into place with a tiny mallet. The Impulse iQ instrument is controlled by micro-computer circuitry housed within the device that produces a controlled force for precise chiropractic adjustments. The high-tech sensor provides information to the doctor and is 100x faster than manual chiropractic adjustments.

Which Is Best For You?

Most chiropractic doctors possess general knowledge of the techniques associated with both Spinal Manipulation and Specific Adjustments, however, most specialize only in one or the other. Given this, it’s important to learn a chiropractor’s area of specialty prior to beginning treatment. Typically, you can find out this information by taking a close look at the licenses and certifications located prominently on the wall of the chiropractor’s office.  If a chiropractor doesn’t hold a certification or proficiency rating for the specific type of chiropractic treatment you feel is best suited for you, you may want to research your area to find a chiropractic doctor that is better trained in that technique.

For more information on me and the services I offer, please feel free to visit my clinic’s web site at www.decompressionforyourback.com

If you’d like to schedule a free, no cost consultation to see if chiropractic care is a fit for you, please call us now at (850) 916-9304 or email us.  Or perhaps you would like to attend one of my free health classes with no obligation.

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