Last week we talked about what causes the ‘click’ sound during a chiropractic adjustment, well this week I want to talk about the difference between ‘self-adjusting’ and a professional adjustment.
Is it safe to do?
Safety is the first thing we need to address, 1-3 patients out of every 100, presenting with a new back/neck complaint will have a serious underlying cause (fracture, tumour, stroke, cancer etc…)
When seeing a chiropractor the initial consultation will be an in-depth assessment and will use the full knowledge of a 4 year masters degree plus ‘x’ amount of years experience to help rule out any serious underlying causes for your back/neck pain and come up with a plan of management to either get you out of pain and reduce the chances of the pain coming back, or refer you out to another specialist for further investigation.
Self adjusting may provide you with short term relief but over the long term it can make your problem worse, let me explain with 2 different example’s,
You have pain/discomfort in the right side of the neck around C 4/5 (The joint between the 4th cervical vertebral body and the 5th cervical vertebral body). One possible reason for the right sided neck pain is that the C 4/5 is actually hyper-mobile meaning when you move your head it is moving too much causing local irritation. With any hyper-mobile joint the body wants to provide stability to the area so some of the joints above (C 1/2, 2/3 & C 3/4) and below (C 5/6, C 6/7 & C7/T1) become tight and restricted.
When you self adjust you use these tight/restriced joints to pull on C 4/5 creating the cavitation/click but all you are doing is making that joint (C 4/5) more mobile….which means the joints above and below become tighter and more restricted, and so the cycle continues…
Using the same example as above, you have pain the right side of the neck around C 4/5, this time this single joint is restricted and doesn’t move. When you self adjust again the accuracy is not there, so you end up adjusting the joints above or below the restriction and these are already hyper mobile because they have to do the job of the joint that isn’t moving, so all you end up doing is making the restricted C4/5 even more restricted (because the body wants to provide stability) and the other joints more mobile because you are stretching the ligaments/joint capsules surrounding those levels.
When you see a chiropractor they will use years of training, skill and technique to assess and carry out an accurate adjustment to only adjust the area that is restricted. Once the restricted joint (s) can move it takes the pressure the the problematic joint and allows the hyper-mobile joint(s) to move equally, reducing pain and improving function.