Chiropractic Tools of the Trade
So many patients ask me “what’s that you are using on my back”? Or “what does that do”? Or “how does that work”? They are basically asking about the methods or techniques I use to perform Chiropractic Spinal Adjustments. As there are many different techniques and ways to do this these days, I will explain the ones we use at Well & Wise. And how these techniques work to reduce back, neck pain and stiffness, and improve their overall health. Hopefully this blog will help you to understand the important tools and techniques that combine to help you and your family.
The Art and Craft of Chiropractic
Before I go into the Tools of our Trade, I need to explain that Chiropractic is not only a science, but also an art and craft. In fact, many long and tiring years are spent at University perfecting the art of ADJUSTING a person’s spine. It is not an easy thing to learn to do, for many reasons. In particular in the early days at University when we are training and practicing on each other, yes, just imagine some of the scary moments doing that! There are many aspects to the diagnosis (science) of Chiropractic, in terms of finding the misaligned areas in the spine, making sure there is enough clinical information allowing for a safe adjustment, and clinical findings that justify the use of certain spinal adjustive therapy over others, and the use of other modalities, but we will leave that for another time. What I will cover today is the HOW we adjust the spine and HOW it works to help reduce pain and discomfort (ART and CRAFT) or what I like to call the tools of the trade.
The Chiropractor’s Hands
We have a range of methods and ways to adjust the spine. In the beginning, when Chiropractic was first founded in 1895, the only tool used was the Chiropractor’s hands. Today, this is still the most common method of performing adjustment to the spine, and what we are most known for. These Manual Adjustments (performed by hand) are done by using careful and gentle manoeuvres that place the spine in specific positions. This sets a specific spinal bone into the right position and movement in the right direction, often accompanied by a popping or clicking sound (gas being released in the joint space). This is often a relief to the patient and reduces the pain associated with sometimes immediately. This can take years to master. This is also a risky move in some cases, or for some patients so sometimes we are not able to perform these types of adjustment and we need to use another approach.
Dr Sonia performing a manual adjustment of the lumbar spine.
Blocks (biomechanical wedges)
Blocks, or biomechanical wedges is another method we use to adjust someone’s spine and help reduce misalignment and pain. A whole system of analysis has been developed to allow for the use of these wedges. They are placed underneath a person’s pelvis and hips to help restore balance and proper alignment. Different injuries or situations (pregnancy for example) can cause problems with the alignment of the pelvic joints, and over time the leg length difference can become so severe that it results in uneven wear and tear on the various joints of the body (affecting knees, ankles, hips, and SHOES!). The blocks are a wonderful tool that a lot of Chiropractors use because they are a safe, gentle, effective and comfortable way to realign the pelvis and help balance the entire spine.
Blocks used to adjust the spine
The Activator has a whole system of analysis and diagnosis attached to it. It is a hand-held instrument used to adjust the spine. It is both gentle and safe. It makes a clicking noise on use (sounds a bit like a stapler) and when applied to a spinal vertebra delivers a measured impulse or force (with variable amplitude) into the joint. This helps improve the range of motion and reduce nerve irritation in the spine. It is extremely effective and also so gentle, it is safe enough to use on newborn babies, as well as the elderly, or anyone with osteoporosis, as there are no risks of applying too much force with this instrument.
Dr Sonia performs an Activator adjustment on a baby
Drop Piece Table
Drop Piece Tables are a fantastic way to help facilitate some types of manual adjustments. In particular, for patients who are tighter and more locked up in difficult areas to adjust in the spine. The mechanisms within the table drop down slightly when pressure is applied, and then, when the table drop piece section stops suddenly, it allows for a gentler manual adjustment. The drop piece table is also useful for adjusting various other areas such as extremity joints (knees ankles, hips) so it is a super versatile approach to helping people with back pain as well as leg pain. For a video to help explain the table further have a look at our youtube introduction to the Drop piece table at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9F-HRi3aRg.
Drop piece table used to facilitate manual adjustments
There are many other tools that chiropractors use, but and as time goes on, and as technology advances further, we may see even newer and more effective ways to correct spinal alignment in all age groups.