The chiropractic adjustment is the passive mobilization of a joint that produces minimal to maximal physiological benefits to muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. Chiropractic is the only profession whose primary treatment consists of mobilizing joints. That’s what we do. There are many ways a chiropractor can mobilize your joints, but in the end, that’s what an adjustment consists of.
When joints are fixated and lack normal mobility, a destructive process begins. First, a fixated joint cannot tolerate the same level of stress that a mobile joint can, so stresses in surrounding tendons, muscles, and joints increase. Short term, this might not pose a huge issue, as the body can be very adaptive, but long term, fixated joints can become a game changer in a person’s life. Second, a fixated joint will degenerate quicker than a mobile joint.
We’ve taken hundreds of x-rays that show one joint space totally degenerated while all other joint spaces look perfect. But you can’t say “It’s just an aging issue” when the joints that look perfect are the same age as the joint that is totally degenerated. It’s a mechanical issue, and the joint that has lost motion has gone through accelerated degeneration. Once you lose mobility, it’s hard to get it back, so your goal should be to keep your joints mobile and also work on improving alignment and body weight distribution for a more even distribution of the stress loading on your joints.
Another important issue is the speed of your recovery after you’ve been injured. We often see that when a person hurts his low back, if he actively does the things we recommend to restore health to that low back, the back generally will respond much more quickly. This patient will recover sooner than the patient who does nothing for an acute low back injury. No one is ever impervious to injury, but your recovery time is much shorter if you’ve been proactively keeping yourself in shape with adjustments and custom orthotics, at the very least.
There is no schedule or frequency of adjustments that is perfect for everyone. Once you’ve gone through your corrective program, which can take up to one year, you need to start your management or maintenance program. Your goal is to spend minimum time on management while keeping your body working as well as possible. For some people, it’s three adjustments per week, while for others, it’s once a month. The only way to learn what’s perfect for you is to try a varied schedule and see what works best.
Finally, the chiropractic adjustment has been shown to be beneficial in virtually every disease known to humankind. Whether it is pain, inflammation, or range of motion, the chiropractic adjustment helps. We cannot, however, promise that a chiropractic adjustment will cure anything. There are many contributing factors to our health, and the chiropractic adjustment only restores normal integrity to the motor unit (spinal joint) that is mobilized. This includes the joint, the tendons attached to the joint, the muscles attached to those tendons, the ligaments that are holding that joint together, and the nerves that exit that joint. That’s a lot of possible benefit, but when you use the chiropractic adjustment as a treatment for a specific condition or illness, it may or may not be the sole answer.