As a chiropractic physician, I feel lucky to have an array of safe and effective treatment modalities to help my patients increase their health. From whole foods nutrition to soft tissue mobilization to functional movement therapy, the tools I employ balance structure and stimulate the body’s innate healing energies, thereby increasing wellness. Of these tools, the most unique is Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy, or CMT.
CMT is a system of manual medicine that uses gentle, controlled forces delivered to the joints of the body to help heal many conditions. Often known as “adjustments,” this type of therapy has been the cornerstone of chiropractic health care for 120 years. The most common form of CMT uses a precise, high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust maneuver applied to spinal vertebral segments as well as extremity joints in order to break-up adhesions that form around joints during periods of disuse or injury. Other forms of CMT employ specialized tools to deliver the healing impulse or apply very light pressure with the hands using no thrust at all. Each form of CMT has an appropriate application and a skillful chiropractor is master of many adjustments. Whatever the type of CMT may be, the goals are generally the same:
- To decrease pain and inflammation in and around the joints
- To restore normal joint mobility and alignment
- To increase overall neurophysiological function in the body
A question that I often hear from patients after an adjustment is, “Wow, I feel much better doc, but why is that? How does it work?” The answer is that chiropractic adjustments work on many levels to promote health. They cause beneficial changes in the blood chemistry by releasing several important substances–such as melatonin, endorphins, and neuropeptides–that decrease pain and elevate the sense of well-being. More importantly, they create structural balance by restoring proper mobility and alignment in the musculoskeletal system. When the body is properly aligned, all systems–including neurologic, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, etc–work better.
If you’ve ever had a chiropractic adjustment, especially the HVLA type, you may have heard an audible “pop.” This “pop,” is NOT caused by bones cracking, but rather by a change in gas pressure inside of a joint space. It is known as a joint cavitation and although it can be very satisfying (or unnerving) to hear such a sound during an adjustment, it is simply a harmless byproduct. Many successful adjustments make no sound at all and a chiropractor will measure the success of an adjustment by the effects it has on your structure and function rather than the sound it makes. I invite you to increase your health with a chiropractic adjustment.