The science of chiropractic care is considered a mystery to some people, but it’s actually built on a solid understanding of the human body and how it is interconnected. Using the knowledge strategically to prevent, reduce, or cure ailments can seem like magic, though!

Chiropractic medicine has been used for centuries as a remedy for chronic back pain, muscle relief, and improved overall spinal health. Adjustments are the most popular method of therapy used by chiropractors. An adjustment is a way that a specialist realigns your spine and fixes joint subluxations.

When the goal is to reduce or alleviate spinal, nerve, or muscle pain and optimize the function of your spine, chiropractic care is the way to go. Conservative physical therapy and adjustments have successfully helped to provide patients with an alternative to prescription painkillers, but just how do these mysterious adjustments work?

Explaining Subluxations

You’ll hear the term ‘subluxation’ thrown about a lot with chiropractic care and if you have any chronic back conditions that you have x-rays to diagnose. Even though it’s a familiar term, not everyone understand what it means, and it has different definitions depending on the health care professional using it as a diagnosis.

In general, a subluxation is a partial dislocation of the joint bones. By the time the subluxation is so severe that it has to be observed through x-ray imaging, it’s usually obvious and painful. Chiropractors are trained to detect mild changes in the original positioning of joints before they become serious problems.

Chiropractic Adjustments in General

There are a few different chiropractic techniques that are widely taught and used by professionals around the world. The typical adjustment occurs when the specialist manipulates the spine by controlling a thrust into the subluxated joint to put it back in place.

Every adjustment is intended to return the joints to their natural state, where they fit seamlessly between two bones. The adjustments are gentle thrusts, so it may take more than one visit before you feel a significant difference.

Chiropractic adjustments focus on the spine, but your entire skeleton works together in tandem. It’s not uncommon to have chiropractic care for hip pain, pelvic discomfort, knee problems, and feet or wrist issues.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chiropractic

The confusion about chiropractic care goes beyond how it works. These answers can clarify questions you have about the adjustment process and general treatment you can expect to receive from your chiropractor:

  • Are only chiropractors able to give adjustments? Chiropractors are trained formally to give adjustments to patients, but you may also see physical therapists and osteopathic physicians who have received training and are licensed to do so, as well.

If you have a specialized concern, you should see a chiropractor who is trained in treating that problem.


  • What does the initial exam consist of? A chiropractor should never jump right in and give you an adjustment without evaluating your medical history and problem first. A reputable doctor will give you a physical exam to check your musculature, ambulatory ability, and spinal condition. They may even require x-rays or other medical imaging if they think it’s necessary.


  • What happens during an adjustment? With the most common adjustments, the patient lies flat on a chiropractic table designed for manipulation of the spine. Face-down and face-up are both normal directions, depending on the area being adjusted. Once the patient is in the required position, the chiropractor will use a controlled, specific force to thrust the joint back into its place. This is usually a two-handed technique.


  • Is it better to hear the pop and crack? Realigning your joints does not always have the snap, crackle, and pop associated with an adjustment. Sometimes it’s a silent slide into place. The noises happen when the lubricating fluid of the joints release a gas into the space between the bones, a process called ‘cavitation,’ and it isn’t always present. A successful adjustment does not need a noise to accompany it!


For More Answers, Call PhyxMe Physical Therapy and Chiropractic

If you’ve never had chiropractic care before, your first visit might be full of questions and concerns. At PhyxMe Physical Therapy and Chiropractic in Chicago, we take the time to make sure you have all your questions answered and know what to expect during your visit.

When you’re ready to take preventative measures with your spinal health or get rid of the pain in your joints, bones, or muscles, call to schedule an appointment with our specialists.