The Best Chiropractic Techniques [ 5 Ways to Ease Your Body Pain ]
Did you know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to chiropractic care? Your doctor has undergone extensive training to provide a custom solution for your back and neck pain. They study for years to learn a variety of different techniques that can impact your health, improve your range of motion, and decrease your pain.
Whether you are an experienced chiropractic patient or someone who has never been to a single appointment, you might wonder what options are available to you. An experienced chiropractor will know just which methods will work best for your pain. However, it does help to have some understanding of what will happen when you show up to your first appointment.
Before you head to the chiropractor, make sure you understand these chiropractic techniques that can help to alleviate your body pain.
The Gonstead technique is one of the most widely used chiropractic methods in the world. According to surveys, close to sixty percent of all chiropractors claim to use this method to treat their patients. This is one of the most precise and safest chiropractic methods that your doctor can offer you.
It starts with a thorough evaluation of where your problem areas are along the spine and neck. An experienced chiropractor will use x-rays, physical examinations, and range of motion exercises to determine your specific problem areas.
This allows them to administer an adjustment at precisely the right location. The careful examination of your spine results in proper alignment that can benefit you more than just a general spinal adjustment.
When it comes to your spinal adjustment, the chiropractor will use a high-velocity and low-amplitude thrust. This technique should correct subluxation (a misalignment in your spinal column) and improve any nerve interference that occurs. Unlike the Atlas technique, the Gonstead method is safe to use on all of the vertebrae and sacroiliac joints.
In a 2011 case study, researchers followed the treatment of a 29-year-old man who had a long history of cervicogenic dizziness with symptoms such as imbalance, dizziness, and neck pain. Chiropractic treatment was given in the form of the Gonstead method. At the end of his treatment, he reported a significant reduction in his neck pain, back pain, and dizziness. The precise nature of this technique lends itself well to the treatment of many different conditions such as:
- Acute back pain
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Joint dysfunctions
While the Gonstead technique is effective for all of the vertebrae, some chiropractors utilize a different method that caters to one specific bone. They focus on the first cervical vertebrae, often referred to as the atlas. The atlas protects the medulla oblongata, the part of the brain that controls many of your nerve pathways. This area is responsible for your involuntary responses and communicates with the rest of the muscles along the spine.
If the atlas falls out of alignment, your head begins to tilt to accommodate the change. The head tilt is followed by a shoulder tilt and a shift in the hips. The cumulative effect of these changes can cause extreme lower back pain. Using a massage chair can only help ease the pain temporary.
The good news is that the Blair technique can correct the alignment of your atlas. This one simple adjustment can prevent the fallout from misalignment of the atlas. It may also offer longer lasting relief from your chronic neck and back pain.
What can you expect from the Blair technique? Patients are asked to lay on their sides on a very low table.
You will wear a special headpiece that rises and then releases after your adjustment. No sounds or loud pops are typically emitted from this adjustment.
The chiropractor will make one light adjustment relatively quickly, and you will feel the alignment in your neck and spine.
In a case series study, it was found that upper cervical low-force techniques like the Blair method were highly effective at treating neck pain. Patient files from a private practice office were reviewed and data was collected from the first visit through their one-year treatment. The data was clinically significant when it came to reductions of neck pain.
Perhaps the best part is that there were no adverse side effects from this technique. This is certainly preferable to more invasive techniques or pharmaceutical intervention. Both medication and surgery come with the potential for extremely serious side effects.
The diversified technique is yet another method that your chiropractor may use to give you some relief. It is the most widely used technique found among the different chiropractic methods. Many people are quick to compare this method to the Gonstead technique because of the similarities between them. Both of them are focused on issuing very specific thrusts that are designed to offer relief for your back pain, neck pain, and extremities.
Patients who head to the chiropractor for the first time are often anticipating this technique. It frequently results in a loud popping sound as your spine is moved back into alignment. Your chiropractor will use their hand to thrust your spine back into place with resistance from their table or a block.
The main goals of diversified technique are to realign the spine, repair joint dysfunction, and improve your overall movement. It can be used to treat:
- Musculoskeletal disorders or pain
- Prenatal concerns such as back pain or frequent headaches
- Curvature of the neck
Flexion Distraction Technique
If you have issues with your lower back, your chiropractor may recommend flexion distraction therapy. This technique hones in on your lumbar spine to increase your range of motion. It stands out from some of the other methods because it is a non-force procedure. Instead, a special table is used to rhythmically move the spine around and relieve pressure on the nerves.
This method can be used for more than just lower back pain. It can treat:
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
Your chiropractor must have a special table in order to offer this chiropractic technique. Prepare to lie face down on the table while it gently bends your body from the hips. The gentle motion moves you back and forth to alleviate some of the tension in your spine. Manual adjustments may be used in combination with flexion distraction treatments in order to realign bulging discs.
One study looked at how flexion distraction therapy could impact pain levels for patients diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis. Thirty patients were divided into two groups where one of these groups received flexion distraction therapy.
By the end of the six-week study, patients who received this type of chiropractic care had significantly lower levels of disability and pain compared to the control group.
A separate study examined female patients who had lumbar intervertebral disc herniation. Some groups received flexion distraction chiropractic treatments while the other received spinal decompression. After eight weeks of treatment, it was found that those who received this flexion distraction technique were more likely to decrease their symptoms.
Unlike many of the other chiropractic methods, the activator technique does not require your chiropractor to use his hands. Techniques like the Gonstead and diversified technique rely on the chiropractor to administer accurate thrusts to the spine. This method is different because it requires a small device instead, known as the activator instrument.
This spring-loaded device is designed to imitate the techniques used in other methods. You will lie face down on the table so the instrument can be set up along your spine. It quickly administers a thrust to the specified area while you remain relaxed and comfortable.
Unlike some of the other chiropractic techniques that focus in on large areas of the back, the activator method can pinpoint smaller, more localized areas.
This can be ideal for patients who need one specific vertebra to move back into alignment. Manual thrusts may not be as precise as this small activator device.
A meta-analysis of eight different studies was performed to determine just how effective the activator instrument can be. It was compared side by side with high-velocity and low-amplitude adjustments (as seen in the Gonstead method). The review of the literature determined that the tool could indeed offer relief and benefits to chiropractic patients.
While these may be the top five chiropractic methods, there are many more that an experienced doctor could provide. Understanding the basic differences between them can help you to make informed decisions about your treatment plan.
While you should always consult with your doctor and defer to his best judgment, it helps to be educated on what you can expect. You can start by learning some of the different treatment options available to you.
Realigning your spine to reduce back pain and neck pain can be a challenging process, even for experienced doctors like those at Better Health Chiropractic in Anchorage. Many patients will require a combination of these different techniques in order to find an effective treatment option. You can find relief from your pain problems with some of these advanced techniques.
Guest Post By Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor's of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. Currently a chiropractor in Alaska, he founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998.
He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.
Dr. Wells is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.