What Are the Most Common Chiropractic Procedures

Chiropractors generally use non-invasive procedures to alleviate pain and restore function, but chiropractors also perform more invasive procedures. The majority of the most common chiropractor procedures are those used for adjustment purposes. The goal is to readjust the spine joints, restoring their proper motion and range.

A chiropractic procedure is a treatment or technique used by a chiropractor to correct a problem in the body. This could be anything from pain relief to an increasing range of motion. Chiropractors use a variety of procedures, depending on the needs of their patients. These procedures include spinal adjustments, mobilization, and manipulation. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at each of these procedures.

Different Types of Chiropractic Adjustments

There are many different chiropractic adjustments for various issues – high-velocity low amplitude (HVLA) manipulation, non-thrust manipulative procedures, low force manual adjusting instruments, and diversified techniques.

We will now look at each one in turn.

Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT):

Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is a manual therapy that involves applying a controlled amount of force into joints and tissues to help improve their movement and function. This is done with the use of hands or a device. Spinal manipulations can be performed by chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists, and medical doctors, although most often performed by chiropractors.

Non-thrust Manipulation:

Non-thrust manipulation (also known as indirect or passive movement) uses a small amplitude thrust to mobilize joints in the spine outside of their normal range of motion. The low velocity and small amplitude allow for tissue relaxation and increased safety. These manipulations use slower speed but greater torque spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) procedures.

Low Force Manual Adjusting Instruments:

Adjustments using low force manual adjusting instruments use a very light touch to move the spine and joints. These movements are slow and gentle and help improve joint mobility and reduce pain.

Diversified Techniques:

Chiropractors use diversified techniques as their main treatment approach. This is a general term that refers to various techniques, including HVLA manipulation, non-thrust manipulation, and low force manual adjusting instruments. Each chiropractor will have their own unique set of techniques that they use depending on the needs of their patients.

Different Types of Chiropractic Procedures

Now that we have looked at the different chiropractic adjustments let’s look at the other chiropractors’ procedures.

Spinal Adjustments

As mentioned earlier, spinal adjustments are the most common chiropractic procedure. This is the manual manipulation of the spine to help restore joint mobility and reduce pain. Spinal adjustments can be performed with hands or devices and can be done using a variety of techniques.

Mobilization: Mobilization is a hands-on treatment that uses passive movement to help restore normal movement and function to the joints. This is usually a more gentle approach than spinal manipulation and is used to mobilize stiff joints and muscles. It can be used on its own or in combination with spinal adjustments.

Manipulation: Manipulation is a technique that uses a high amount of force to move the joints and tissues beyond their normal range of motion. This is done to help improve joint mobility and reduce pain. Manipulations are usually performed as a last resort after other treatments have failed.


Distraction techniques are used on patients who have an increased amount of tissue swelling. The purpose of distraction is to open up the compressed space within the spinal column, allowing more room for the spinal nerves and increased fluid flow. This will also help to reduce nerve irritation. There are three types of distraction techniques: flexion, extension, and lateral. Flexion-distraction is the most common.

The chiropractor will use a gentle force to flex (bend) the patient’s spine forward in this technique. At the same time, the chiropractor will slowly pull the upper body backward. This combination of the upper body being pulled back and the spine being flexed forward will open up the spinal column and help to relieve nerve pressure. 

This kind of procedure is beneficial for patients with herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or other conditions that cause compression of the spinal nerves.

Gonstead Technique

In the Gonstead technique, the chiropractor uses a special instrument called an activator to help position and align vertebrae. There are two types of activators: A spring-loaded instrument with a small handle that releases gentle pressure when squeezed, or an instrument with a small mallet on one side and a flat surface for contact on the other.

The chiropractor will use the activator to apply a light, consistent pressure to the vertebrae. This pressure is applied until the vertebrae are in the correct position and then held there for a short time. This technique is said to be particularly effective for correcting alignment problems and restoring movement in the spine.

Activator Method

The activator method is a light chiropractic procedure that uses an instrument to deliver precise, controlled adjustments to the spine. The instrument provides a consistent adjustment and is considered one of the safest methods available.

In this treatment, the patient lies face-down on a specially designed table. The doctor rests his or her forearm on the back for stability and uses the activator to deliver a light, short thrust to the vertebra. This gentle adjustment is said to help restore movement and improve function in the spine.

Drop Technique/Thompson Technique

The Thompson technique is a chiropractic approach that uses a drop table to provide spinal adjustments. A drop table is a special table with a movable section that allows the chiropractor to adjust the patient’s spine with a gentle force.

This technique is said to be particularly helpful for correcting alignment problems and restoring movement in the spine. The drop table also helps to reduce the amount of force needed to adjust the spine, making it a safe and gentle treatment option.

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of health problems. It can help to relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore function. Chiropractic care can also help to reduce the need for medication and surgery. Below are some of the benefits of receiving chiropractic care:

Helps to Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Injuries often lead to pain, discomfort, and inflammation. Chiropractic treatments can help reduce these symptoms by restoring normal function to the joints and tissues. Regular adjustments also help the body absorb nutrients more efficiently and promote healthy tissue growth.

Promotes Better Mobility and Function

When the body is out of alignment, it can restrict movement and lead to pain and discomfort. Chiropractic care can help to restore normal alignment and improve mobility. This, in turn, can help reduce pain and improve function.

May Reduce the Need for Medication

Pain medications are often prescribed to treat chronic pain conditions. However, medication does not address the underlying cause of the pain. Chiropractic adjustments can help to reduce pain and improve mobility. This, in turn, may reduce a patient’s reliance on medications.

Gentle and Safe

Chiropractic is considered a safe treatment option for patients of all ages and with most types of injuries or conditions. The procedures are gentle and typically produce few side effects. Chiropractic care is also non-invasive, which does not involve surgery or medication.

If you are considering chiropractic care, be sure to talk to your doctor about which treatment or treatments would be best suited to your needs. With the right care plan, chiropractic treatment can be an effective way to get you on the road to recovery.

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