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Making sure your adjustment is safe and comfortable

Let's be clear: Chiropractic adjutsments are very safe and can be effective for treating several different causes of spine and joint pains.

But, for those who may be unsure if a chiropractic adjustment is right for them, it may give some reassurance to know there is a specific approach to not only determine if a manipulation is safe, but also if it will be helpful. 

The process we utilize to determine if an adjustment will be beneficial and safe is known as the progression of forces. It is a metaphorical dipping of the toes into the pool of manual therapy by introducing forces to your tissues in a measured manner.  By applying forces in an escalating pattern, we are likely to discover if your body has a painful or adverse response long before a force that would create a lasting injury is ever applied. 

Levels of forces in manual therapy:

  1. Patient movements - Often thought of by our patients as "stretches," this level of force on your joints and tissues is created just by taking your joints through their range of motion, often to their end range if tolerable. 
  2. Patient generated end range overpressure - Overpressure is created by taking your joints to their end range, and then adding just a bit more pressure. This is often accomplished by pushing into the end of the "stretch" and accentuating it with gravity, breathing, or some other force a patient can create on their own.
  3. Clinician generated end range overpressure - If at the end of the patient's movement it is difficult for them to get sufficient overpressure alone, the therapist will then create the overpressure externally with manual therapy.
  4. Mobilization - The therapist takes the joints to their end range without any assistance from the patient.  When there, the clinician repeatedly stresses the joint into its end range with less focus on the rest of the joint's range of motion. 
  5. Manipulation - Again, the therapist will take your joint to its end range.  With Manipulation, a short, quick thrust is applied at the end range of the joint. 

By taking each case through these levels step by step assessing a patient's response during and after their application, we can accurately predict if a patient will have a positive response to a chiropractic manipulation. We may come to find that not everyone NEEDS to be adjusted. When in doubt, we always defer to the patient and common sense.  If you have any questions about your pain or if an adjustment could be right for you, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Author
Dr. Todd Peterson, DC, Cert MDT. Dr. Todd Peterson Dr. Todd Peterson is a chiropractor and certified provider for Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy (MDT, aka the McKenzie Method). Dr. Peterson played football at the University of Nebraska, where he was a 4 year letter winner and Academic All American. He briefly played professional football in 2009 before returning to Chiropractic School in 2010. He earned his doctor of chiropractic (DC) degree from National University of Health Sciences in 2013, graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors.

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