Posted: February 27, 2022


A chiropractic adjustment, also known as a spinal manipulation, is a common therapeutic treatment for many pains and injuries. A chiropractic doctor will apply pressure to manipulate the vertebrae that move abnormally or fail to function normally. The goal is to reduce the subluxation (explained lower), while improving range of motion and function. Don’t worry if that’s a little technical, this article aims to aid understanding by exploring what exactly is a chiropractic adjustment?


The term subluxation is medically defined by Mosbys Medical Dictionary to include “a partial abnormal separation of the articular surfaces of a joint”. As well as: altering the biomechanical and physiological dynamics of neighbouring structures that can cause neural disturbances. 

All that means is that subluxation is a term used by doctors to describe the improper position of the vertebra and the functional loss it’s causing. We see subluxation as a process, rather than a permanent condition, since the tissues are constantly undergoing changes. This includes hyperemia, edema, fibrosis, atrophy and more.  

Subluxations can aggravate the nerve tissue in the area, which leads to an interruption in normal function within the neurological system. If left untreated, the subluxation can disrupt normal function, especially in the joint itself. 


It should be noted that a chiropractor doesn’t “crack” someone or something. You may hear a cracking sound but there is no damage being done or cracks being made. 

Cavitation or “cracking” doesn’t happen all the time. When the surfaces of a synovial joint are met with a gentle force, it can create a reduction in joint pressure. When the pressure is reduced, the synovial fluid releases gasses, which are dissolved in the solution and make the popping or cracking sounds that you hear. 


An adjustment isn’t just for the back, most of the body can be helped through joint manipulation. It’s a common way to relieve pain and improve your overall function. Joint manipulation can also improve range of motion and help restore mobility in a joint. This can include:

  • Head/jaw
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Hips
  • Pelvis
  • Knees
  • Ankles


  1. EASING PAIN: Most of us have experienced lower back and neck pain at some point. Adjustments can improve the condition of both. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has proven chiropractic adjustments to be 96% effective in eliminating neck pain. 
  2. SCIATICA: Pain that starts in your lower back and runs down your leg is often caused by a sciatic nerve that’s been damaged or under pressure. It’s a chronic condition that causes many patients to be over-medicated in an attempt to find relief. Adjustments have been shown to reduce the amount of pain experienced, as well as the number of occasions pain was felt. 
  3. REDUCED INFLAMMATION: A number of diseases can be linked to chronic inflammation. This kind of inflammation may be reduced by regular spinal adjustments.
  4. NEUROLOGICAL IMPROVEMENTS: A chiropractic adjustment may help to increase blood flow to the brain, and quite often the flow of cerebrospinal fluid as well.