Chiropractic adjustments are effective and safe for treating many conditions affecting the spine and muscles.

If you want to learn more about how chiropractic adjustments work and what benefits to expect, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, you’ll learn why chiropractic adjustments are effective, the science behind them, and 10 proven health benefits of a chiropractic adjustment.

What is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustments are also called spinal adjustments or spinal manipulation.

These techniques involve the use of hands or instruments to apply force or pressure to a spinal joint. The goal is to increase motion of the spine, reduce pain, and improve function throughout the body.

Daniel David Palmer, the founder of Chiropractic, invented chiropractic adjustments in the 19th century.

More recently, osteopaths and physical therapists have also used chiropractic adjustments for patients.

Here’s what happens when you get a chiropractic adjustment:

  • The doctor or therapist applies a brief, forceful thrust to one of your vertebrae with their hands or a tool
  • The release of gas from the joint relieves joint pressure and makes an audible “crack” sound
  • Usually, you’ll experience an immediate sense of relief

Chiropractic adjustments are safe–as long as you get them from someone who is licensed and trained in spinal manipulation.

Serious side effects are as low as 1.5 per 10 million professional manipulations[1].

While most people consider chiropractic adjustments a form of alternative medicine, the practice is popular and well-established in the health care system and among medical professionals[2].

How Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work?

Chiropractic manipulations are a type of “conservative treatment.”

Basically, that means they’re safer and less invasive than surgery. And they often work as an alternative to costly and risky surgeries.

Here’s why chiropractic adjustments work, according to the peer-reviewed journal Spine[3]:

  • Changing the function of neurons in your spine, resulting in changes to your nervous system
  • Influencing your body’s motor control system
  • By changing the way your body processes pain

Keep reading to learn the scientifically proven benefits of a chiropractic adjustment!

10 Benefits of Getting a Chiropractic Adjustment

#1: Enhancing Relaxation

Even if you don’t have back pain or other health problems, a chiropractic adjustment can help you relax.

According to a 2009 study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, a lumbar adjustment can increase your heart rate variability (HRV) score[4].

HRV is a measure of relaxation. Higher HRV is good for your overall health. It may even reduce your risk of heart attacks and sudden death[5]!

And evidence also suggests that in some surgical patients, raising HRV may reduce complications and speed recovery[6].

Therefore, adjustments are a great choice if you need to relax. Promoting relaxation is also one of the ways chiropractic adjustments improve your wellness.

#2: Lowering Blood Pressure

Chiropractic adjustments can also help lower your blood pressure.

According to the study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, a cervical adjustment can cause a sudden decrease in blood pressure[7].

Not only that, the drop may be greater in people who are older, or who have higher initial blood pressure readings.

#3: Straightening Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine, most often found in adolescents just before puberty.

And while the cause of most scoliosis is unknown, chiropractic adjustments are one way to treat it.

A paper in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy found that as a conservative therapy, chiropractic adjustments resulted in curve reduction, improved function, and reduced symptoms for patients with scoliosis[8].

A separate 2017 study in Clinics and Practice found that 90% of adolescent scoliosis patients experienced benefits from spinal adjustments[9].

Not only that, chiropractic adjustments may decrease the need for surgery in scoliosis patients[10].

#4: Preventing Back Surgery

Scoliosis isn’t the only condition where a chiropractic adjustment might prevent the need for surgery.

As we discussed earlier, chiropractic is considered a conservative treatment. Although some critics still question its safety, it is undoubtedly safer than surgery.

And that’s why the Journal of the American Medical Association guidelines recommend spinal manipulation as a reasonable alternative to immediate surgery for back pain[11].

#5: Treating Sciatica

Sciatica is pain that affects your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve extends from your low back through the backs of your legs.

Patients often seek chiropractic care for sciatica as an alternative to steroid injections, surgeries, and other invasive treatments.

A controlled study from the journal Spine found that chiropractic manipulations resulted in more benefit than a placebo treatment, with reductions in pain and no adverse effects[12].

#6: Reducing Low Back Pain

If you have low back pain, it may seem obvious to get a chiropractic adjustment.

Whether you seek chiropractic care as a standalone treatment or as a complementary addition to other treatments, evidence shows that adjustments are effective[13].

And if you’ve already had surgery for your low back and you’re experiencing pain, chiropractic adjustments can reduce your pain by over 50%[14].

#7: Relieving Neck Pain

Treating neck pain is another area where chiropractic adjustments shine.

A study of 272 patients from the Annals of Internal Medicine compared chiropractic adjustments with drugs and at-home exercises[15].

Here’s what the researchers found after twelve weeks:

  • The chiropractic group improved the most, with 57% achieving pain reduction
  • 48% of patients who did at-home exercises experienced pain reduction
  • Only 33% of patients got relief from OTC pain relievers, narcotics, and muscle relaxers

But most impressively, after a year, the chiropractic group was 39% more likely to report continued pain relief compared to patients given drugs.

#8: Eliminating Headaches

Your head attaches to your spine, so it stands to reason that a chiropractic adjustment is a great idea for a headache.

Evidence suggests that spinal manipulation can help get rid of migraine headaches, as well as headaches that originate from your cervical spine[16].

The jury is still out on whether chiropractic adjustments help tension headaches, but most chiropractors have additional techniques for tension and other types of headaches.

#9: Decreasing Pregnancy Pain

Up to 50% of pregnant women may suffer from low back pain during pregnancy[17]. Other types of pain during pregnancy are common, too.

And while OTC pain relievers are considered safe for pregnancy, most physicians agree that the fewer the drugs, the better[18].

Chiropractic adjustments may be safer and more effective than drugs, especially for pregnant women.

According to a study from the Journal of Chiropractic, chiropractic adjustment is appropriate for addressing physical changes and muscle strain associated with pregnancy[19].

And some findings even suggest it may increase the chances of a successful delivery[19]!

#10: Freeing Up Frozen Shoulders

Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that affects the shoulder joint.

It involves pain and stiffness, which usually get worse over time. If you have frozen shoulder, the treatment goal is to increase range of motion and manage pain.

Here’s what a clinical trial from the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine has to say about chiropractic adjustments and frozen shoulder[20]:

  • Of 50 patients, sixteen completely recovered
  • 25 showed an improvement of 75-90% in mobility and pain
  • Eight patients experienced 50-75% improvement
  • Only a single patient had 0-50% improvement

According to the conclusions of the researchers, chiropractic treatment is safe and effective for adhesive capsulitis.

Final Thoughts

Chiropractic adjustments are a fantastic choice for pain relief and treating a variety of conditions, as long as you visit a credible chiropractor.

Make sure your chiropractor is trained, licensed, and up-to-date.

If you aren’t sure where to look, you can ask your doctor for a referral.

And remember to have treatment goals in mind, too. If you are experiencing pain or other issues, bring them up with your chiropractor to make a treatment plan together.

You can always combine chiropractic care with conventional treatments, if needed. However, for many conditions, chiropractic adjustments alone may do the trick.

If you live in Oregon, consider calling the offices of Dr. Thad Gala at Complete Care today. Once you set up an appointment you can look forward to a consultation, personalized treatment plan, and world-class chiropractic care.