By Dr Andrew Ullo (Chiropractor)
If you’ve ever wondered about the benefits of chiropractic adjustments, you’re not alone. As a chiropractor, I often get asked this question. In simple terms, a chiropractic adjustment involves applying a specific force to a misaligned vertebra in order to correct its position. This correction targets the joint complex rather than the muscles or nerves, although it can have positive effects on these systems as well. Chiropractic adjustments can be performed using the chiropractor’s hands or specialized instruments.
Over the years, there has been increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of chiropractic adjustments. A study conducted in 2002 by Meeker et al. reviewed randomized controlled trials focusing on the effects of adjustments for various conditions (1). The findings were quite remarkable. Out of the 43 trials conducted for low back pain, 30 showed positive results for chiropractic adjustments, with none being less effective than the control group. Similarly, out of 9 trials for headaches, 7 had positive outcomes, with no negative results.
One possible explanation for these positive effects is that chiropractic adjustments can stimulate proprioceptors, which, in turn, trigger the release of endorphins (2). Endorphins are natural substances in the body that function as neurotransmitters, providing pain relief and promoting a sense of well-being. Thus, when endorphins are released, they can quickly reduce pain and provide temporary relief, similar to pain medication but with fewer adverse effects.
In a 2002 article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Meeker outlined at least five other clinical effects of chiropractic adjustments (3). According to the author, chiropractic adjustments can:
- Release a joint capsule that has become entrapped in facet joints, which are known to be sensitive to pain.
- Break contractile adhesions and collagen adhesions in local soft tissues and supportive structures that may have formed as a result of previous injuries.
- Inhibit overactive reflexes in the muscles of the spine or limbs.
- Reduce compression or irritation of nerves.
- Reposition a part of an intervertebral disc.
In addition, studies suggest that chiropractic adjustments can increase both active and passive joint motion, improve pain tolerance, and enhance muscle strength.
Furthermore, there are other evidence-based benefits associated with chiropractic adjustments. They can increase pain tolerance in the skin, reduce muscle electrical activity and tension, and elicit consistent reflex responses in muscles in the spine and limbs.
While many benefits of chiropractic adjustments have been observed and others are suspected, ongoing research is necessary to fully understand the extent of these effects. It’s important to note that individuals may respond differently to treatments, and all forms of treatment carry some potential for adverse effects.
If you’re interested in experiencing the benefits of chiropractic adjustments, I encourage you to reach out to your local chiropractor. You can contact AHS at 9948 2826 or visit our clinic located at 9/470 Sydney Rd in Balgowlah, serving the surrounding suburbs of Allambie, Balgowlah Heights, Seaforth, Fairlight, and Manly on the Northern Beaches.
- Meeker WC, Mootz RD, Halderman S. Back to basics: the state of chiropractic research. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic. 2002; 9(1), 1-13.
- Vernon HT, Dhami MSI et al. Spinal manipulation and beta-endorphins: a controlled study of the effect of a spinal manipulation on plasma beta-endorphin levels in normal males. J Manip Physio Ther. 1986; 9(2), 115.
- Meeker WC, Haldeman S. Chiropractic: a profession at the crossroads of mainstream and alternative medicine. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2002;136:216 –227.