2 Your Health: Do Spinal Adjustments Hurt?

Craig W. Brue, D.C.

Are you experiencing chronic back and neck pain? Are you afraid that chiropractic care might make it worse? Have you heard that spinal adjustments hurt? This article will help you understand that chiropractors now have treatment protocols that are gentle and effective.

During my 45 years of treating spinal problems, I have often heard the following concerns expressed: I’ve been adjusted before, and I didn’t like the cracking sound. I went to a chiropractor before, and he hurt me. I don’t want to have my neck snapped.

If you have any concerns that a chiropractic adjustment might hurt or make your pain worse, I have good news for you. Spinal adjustments do not have to hurt. Adjustments can be done safely and effectively without the cracking and snapping sensations that are often felt during a spinal adjustment by hand.

Just as lasers have replaced some scalpels, chiropractors are now able to utilize spinal adjusting instruments that are very safe and effective. The two main adjusting instruments that are used in the treatment of spinal pain are called the Activator and Impulse adjusting instruments. A chiropractor is now able to use a spinal adjusting instrument that delivers a very controlled, gentle tapping style of spinal adjustment. An instrument adjustment is quicker, lighter, and gentler than an adjustment that is done by hand.

There is one main difference between an Activator and an Impulse adjusting instrument. The Activator instrument is a mechanical, hand-held instrument that is designed to deliver a specific single tap to the area of the spine that needs correction. The Impulse adjusting instrument is electronic, and it is able to deliver spinal adjustments as either a single tap or in a repetitive manner. Does either the Activator or Impulse adjustment hurt? The answer is no. Are these adjustments safe and effective? Many studies have been done that document both safety and effectiveness.

What about the more aggressive method of spinal adjustment by hand? In my practice, I utilize many different types of chiropractic adjustments, including spinal manipulation. Adjustments that are done by hand are also very safe and effective. However, I only do manual manipulation when I know that there are no significant complicating factors like severe pain, osteoporosis, advanced osteoarthritis, or compression fractures. A thorough spinal examination, including imaging studies, helps to establish the safest and best treatment. Many seniors with chronic pain prefer the non-force instrument adjustments for spinal care.

What type of spinal adjustment is best for you?

There is no specific type of chiropractic treatment that works best for everyone. Chiropractic care, like dental care, is both a science and an art. Recommendations for care must be unique to each patient.

If you have questions about instrument adjustments for spine pain, go to these websites for information on painless chiropractic treatment: goimpulse.com and activator.com.

Dr. Craig Brue is an author, lecturer, and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke, Ariz. For more information on chiropractic care, go to bruechiropractic.com.