One question I hear quite often from patients is who, other than chiropractors, can adjust the spine. Chiropractic is the only profession that is trained in finding and correcting spinal misalignments, or subluxations. This correction is made by adjusting the spine. Some doctors of osteopathy are also trained in some forms of manipulation, but other than that, no one else should be adjusting the spine. This post will discuss some of the people that I commonly hear people get “adjusted” by.
Commonly I hear, “I don’t need to go to the chiropractor, I can adjust myself.” This is completely untrue, not even chiropractors can adjust themselves. Although some people may be able to “crack” their own neck and back, this is not the same as an adjustment.
When a chiropractor makes an adjustment, they are making a specific contact and thrust to ensure that they are correctly aligning the proper bone into its proper position. When someone attempts to crack their own neck, they generally place one hand on their chin and twist in order to get a “pop.” They have no clue what they are moving or where they are moving it. The argument I often hear is that they feel so much better after the “pop.” This is because when the pop occurs, their body is releasing endorphins, which are the hormone that makes your body feel good. The only problem is they only last in the blood stream between 15-20 minutes before wearing off. This is why someone who tends to pop their own neck or back do it on a consistent basis, they aren’t fixing anything, they are just using hormones to make them feel better.
Another thing I often hear is that patients get friends or family members to attempt to adjust them. No one should ever attempt to adjust the spine without the proper training, it can be extremely dangerous. I will never forget a story that was told to me by a chiropractor I used to work for. One afternoon, a teenage boy was brought into his office being carried by his parents because he was unable to walk on his own after one on his friends had attempted to “crack” his lower back. Fortunately,the damage was not permanent, and the boy made a full recovery after being under proper chiropractic care, however it is a situation that could have been easily avoided. The spine and spinal cord are extremely delicate, and should only be treated by those who have had the proper training.
Finally, I sometimes hear that patients will occasionally get “cracked” when they go for massages. Although massage therapists are highly trained to care for our muscles, they have absolutely no training in spinal manipulation, therefore they should never attempt to adjust you before, during or after a massage.
In conclusion, only chiropractors are trained to safely and properly adjust the spine, and not even they can adjust themselves.