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  • Dr. Mark Freund

What Is Spinal Manipulation?

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

spinal manipulation

Spinal manipulation, also known as spinal manipulation therapy, is a technique that treats the spine by exerting forces on the joints. The application of this therapy revolves around the idea that the dysfunctional areas' treatment can restore their structural integrity, reduce pain, and initiate a natural healing process in the body.

Conditions Spinal Manipulation Treats:

Who Performs Spinal Manipulation?

Chiropractors are at the forefront of spinal manipulation treatment, with most spinal manipulations being performed by a chiropractor. However, other healthcare providers have also been intervening in the therapy since the documentation of its effectiveness. As more clinical trials are being conducted and recommended guidelines are in place, new chiropractic spinal manipulations are becoming popular. Spinal manipulation is used today as both Western and traditional Eastern treatments. It is also used as a form of manipulation therapy in many countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

How a Chiropractor Can Help

Chiropractors are well trained to determine if your body requires spinal manipulation. Also, they also offer treatment for several other conditions, including back, neck, and joint pain. Most spinal manipulations are performed by chiropractors, although other licensed professionals, including osteopathic doctors and physical therapists, also perform them.

chiropractor doing spinal manipulation

Chiropractors are trained to identify severe underlying conditions and rule out the need for spinal manipulation to treat back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders. Spinal manipulation can also indicate the presence of a herniated disk or a spinal nerve jam.

Chiropractic and Spinal Manipulation

Chiropractic treatments often involve spinal manipulation, but not always. Spinal manipulation is often combined with various treatments, such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and manual therapy. If you have a condition that requires spinal manipulation, you should immediately see an experienced chiropractor.

Spinal Manipulation Techniques

spinal manipulation techniques

Many techniques are used in spinal manipulation, including sudden or controlled forces on the joint that cause a bang and less sudden movements that gently stretch and manipulate joint muscles and ligaments.

Generic spine manipulation for relieving pain and restoring mobility is not the same as a chiropractic adjustment intended to improve overall health. Many osteopathic doctors will offer you a variety of spinal manipulations and mobilizations, some of which are described in this article. Some doctors use rough techniques, such as spinal manipulation or twist, while others use a gentler approach, such as spinal mobilization.


Despite the prevalence of spinal manipulation, many myths persist about its use and practice. Spinal manipulation is sometimes referred to as "spinal rehabilitation therapy" or even "therapeutic manipulation." It has been used to treat many diseases. Even the ancient Greek physician and the father of modern medicine and rational science, Hippocrates, described manual manipulative techniques in his writings. Historical documents suggest that spinal manipulation was a pain relief technique used in the early days of human medicine.

The Hippocratic Oath is what physicians take when they swear to uphold the principles of orderly conduct in the medical profession. Spinal manipulation is a part of traditional medicine and has been an increasingly popular treatment option since modern medicine. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the technique met with great skepticism; however, it has been accepted as a viable treatment option for specific problems. Hippocrates mentioned manipulating the spine and legs to relieve pain and was considered a folk healer, known as a bonesetter whose success was driven by luck.

In the 19th century, the treatment lost popularity as quickly as it had gained it in the United States due to the rising recognition of other therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, and other chiropractic treatments. Nonetheless, it has now emerged as an accepted form of treatment once more.

explaining how spinal manipulation works

Disillusioned with the lack of effective treatments for his patients, physician Andrew Taylor developed the idea that diseases were caused by displaced bones and muscles that disrupted the body's circulation. He used manipulation techniques to correct body imbalances and restore health and eventually became the father of modern osteopathy. Modern spine manipulation dates back to the early 20th century, but it has a long tradition in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

How Spinal Manipulation Works

Some use force (twisting) to manipulate the spine, while others use gentler techniques (spinal mobilization). Many of the methods used by chiropractors worldwide, such as flexion and stretching of the spine, are imbued with the same principles as those used in osteopathy and other osteopathic healing methods. Doctors also use ultrasound to warm deep tissue, stretch the spine, and extend and bend the muscles.

When manipulating the spine, practitioners use their hands to apply a controlled, sudden force to a particular joint. Most procedures are performed on an adjustable, padded table, but some parts can fall, causing different energies to flow during movement. Patients often hear a pop sound.

To mobilize the spine, doctors use slightly weaker sutures and more stretching, and sometimes a small metal tool is used directly on the vertebra area.

Benefits of Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation increases flexibility and improves the patient's range of motion while reducing dependence on medication. Avoiding surgery because spinal manipulation is non-invasive can discourage those who have had surgery in the past.

Studies have shown that mobilization treatment can help treat neck pain when used with other modalities.

Spinal adjustment is safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional. Serious complications are rare but can include compressed nerves, herniated discs, and spinal cord injuries.

discussing the benefits of spinal manipulation

Spinal manipulation is used as part of rehabilitation and prevention programs around the world based on research by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Spinal manipulation has advantages for people with spinal muscular dystrophy, spinal stenosis, and other spinal diseases.

Is Spinal Manipulation For You?

Spinal manipulation can be suitable for you, regardless of age, gender, race, disability, or illness. Before starting a new treatment, you should always consult your doctor and inform your physiotherapist about your existing complaints. You can assess your condition and general health to determine whether spinal manipulation would benefit you. You can contact us at Natural Care Chiropractic to arrange an appointment with one of our highly qualified physiotherapists.


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