The Safe, Effective, and Painless Spinal Adjustment

Dr. Craig Brue

During the past 20 years I have been using spinal adjusting instruments, the Activator and Impulse, where patients feel a light tapping sensation on their spine. The Activator is a spring-loaded instrument. The Impulse is an electronic device. You may ask, “How does that work, and how can that help me?”

After being in practice for more than 45 years, I can assure you that there is no single adjusting method that helps every spinal condition. Every patient has spinal problems and misalignments that are unique, and treatment must be dedicated to that person’s tolerance, strength, and age. I have told many patients: it’s not about how HARD you adjust the spine; it’s about how RIGHT you adjust the spine.

A chiropractor does not have to snap, crack, or pop your spine to help relieve pinched and irritated nerves. As a matter of fact, aggressive spinal adjusting techniques are not always the best or safest adjusting procedures. Forceful spinal manipulation may be contraindicated with severe disc degeneration, osteoporosis, spinal fusions, and advanced osteoarthritis.

How does a chiropractic doctor know which spinal adjusting technique is best for you? The answer is knowledge and experience. A thorough chiropractic examination will include imaging studies of your spine. X-rays will give a chiropractor a blueprint to assess the best method to correct spinal misalignment. This is my advice to patients: to see is to know and not to see is to guess. Your spine is too important for guess work. Don’t let anyone recommend therapy or perform a spinal adjustment unless that provider understands the underlying cause of your condition.

Chiropractic care is both a science and an art. As a patient gets older, I usually find that the less aggressive adjusting techniques are safer and more effective. Many patients find that a very gentle chiropractic adjustment is both painless and provides better pain relief.

To help you understand how an adjustment is given by an instrument, I will tell you the story about a mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites you, you often don’t know it at the time. However, your body knows that something has happened because you will soon have a healing response to that little bite; an itchy, red bump. Similarly, your body will have a healing response to a very light spinal adjustment because the adjustment happens so quickly. Just like the mosquito bite, the healing response from an instrument adjustment takes place shortly after the procedure is performed.

My advice: find an excellent chiropractor that has advanced training in many adjusting procedures, including instrument adjustments. It is very unlikely that you will ever experience pain or discomfort after a light, non-force instrument adjustment. If you would like more information about painless spinal adjustments, please go to these websites: and

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