Chiropractic Care in Focus: Instrument Adjusting
Chiropractic care has evolved a great deal over the past century, with skilled practitioners around the world introducing new techniques to meet the clinical needs of their patients.
The foundation of spinal manipulation—the basic procedure most people associate with chiropractors—is called a high velocity, low amplitude (HVLA) adjustment. While this type of adjustment has traditionally been done manually, it has become increasingly common for chiropractors to use different types of instruments to apply force in even more targeted ways. In fact, instrument adjusting is now the most frequently used chiropractic technique after manual spinal manipulation. A wide variety of professional adjustment instruments are available on the market, ranging from mechanical spring-loaded models to high-tech, electrically powered ones. But whatever their design differences happen to be, their basic function is to administer force to the precise area of treatment.
Chiropractic adjustment instruments are designed to provide fast and targeted adjustments to a patient at around 100 times the speed of a manual adjustment. Whereas manual adjustment will vary depending on the technique and amount of force applied by the practitioner, adjustment instruments can be set to deliver the same impact on each adjustment. Further, the small tip of adjustment instruments can be targeted much more precisely than human hands. In addition to these advantages, adjustment instruments do not cause the popping and cracking sounds that typically accompany manual manipulation, which makes them particularly useful when treating children, seniors and other patients who may be anxious.
The sensation of being treated with an adjustment instrument has been described as a light tapping on the targeted area. The adjustment is usually painless, and patients often report reduced pain and greater mobility afterward. There is also evidence to suggest that instrument adjusting may lead to fewer uncomfortable side-effects than manual manipulation. The precision of adjustment instruments can be used to move spinal vertebrae without disturbing adjacent muscles, which results in less pain for the patient. In addition to being better for patients, using adjuster instruments reduces the physical demands on chiropractors themselves, who can—ironically—suffer from carpal tunnel and postural problems brought about from frequent daily applications of manual treatment to patients.
Although research into the use of adjustment instruments is still in its infancy, several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this form of treatment for a wide range of musculoskeletal problems. The fact that instrument adjustment has found widespread acceptance in modern chiropractic therapy suggests that many chiropractors have become convinced of the practical benefits, and that it is likely to remain a core part of chiropractic treatment for the foreseeable future.
The wide range of techniques and tools available today means that there are plenty of options to choose from. Your chiropractor will work closely with you to select the ones that will be safest and most effective given the specific goals of your treatment plan and your overall physical condition. If you have questions, please call or visit our office. We’ll be happy to explain our approach!