Patients usually seek out chiropractic care whenever they are experiencing neck pain. This alternative treatment method has definitely grown more popular in recent years, with Olympians and other professional athletes and celebrities endorsing the benefits of spinal adjustments.
And these testimonials are not just shallow word-of-mouth claims. In fact, there are several studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of manual therapies on neck pain when performed by doctors of chiropractic. This means that chiropractors are practically experts when it comes to treating neck pain, no matter what caused it. Whether it’s a sports injury, a car accident, a fall, or just an effect of a weird sleeping position, your chiropractor can help ease your discomfort.
But what are these manual therapies they use to treat pain? Let’s take a closer look.
Spinal manipulative therapy, also known as spinal manipulation or SMT, involves moving the head and neck to a firm end-range movement followed by a fast, thrust aimed at specific joints that are fixed, subluxated, and tender. A subluxated joint is one that is partially out of position.
The thrust is often described as a “high velocity, low amplitude” movement, or HVLA. This is also why it is called an “adjustment,” a description that is unique to the chiropractic profession.
Joint cavitation often happens when gas either forms within or is released from the joint. This simply means that the cracking or popping sounds made during a spinal adjustment are nothing to be worried about. When the joints are adjusted by the chiropractor, air bubbles are released and they make a sound. The process itself is painless and actually relaxing, so there’s no need to fear.
Another technique used by chiropractors is called spinal mobilization or SM. This is a low velocity, low amplitude movement that is usually slow and rhythmic, gradually increasing the depth of the back and forth movement, often combined with manual traction. The joint cavitation is less common here.
The goal is to reduce stiffness and mobilize the spine. Chiropractic care revolves around the knowledge that the body can heal itself more efficiently if the spine is in proper alignment.
Your chiropractor may also use exercise training that focuses on strengthening the deep neck flexor muscles. Chiropractors often use exercises that are specifically designed for each individual patient, based on their specific needs. This creates better results and treatment outcomes compared to the generalized, non-specific exercise program.
Studies in which SMT or SM and exercise are combined report better long term outcomes for patients, compared to SMT or SM alone. It just goes to show how important exercise is when it comes to achieving long term health. And a chiropractor is trained to provide lifestyle tips and advice so that you can adjust accordingly.
It is also worth noting that SMT and SM typically outperform exercise therapy alone.
There are other techniques used by chiropractors that are worth mentioning, such as PTM and MRTs. Physical therapy modalities or PTM can include ultrasound, interferential, low and high volt, galvanic current, diathermy, lasers (class 3B and IV primarily), ultraviolet, ionto- and phonophoresis, pulsed electromagnetic field, hot/cold, and more.
On the other hand, muscle release techniques or MRTs include massage therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, muscle energy techniques, active release therapy, gua sha, and many more.
The approaches used may vary depending on the patient’s preferences and needs. Look for a chiropractic clinic near you today and learn more about the many benefits of spinal manipulation.
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