Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic Adjustment

If you have ever considered visiting a chiropractor, or wondered if a chiropractic adjustment might help you, you are not alone. Each year, 35 million adults and children visit a chiropractor. Chiropractors are physicians who are specially trained in adjustment techniques for the spine and other joints in the body.

Spine Anatomy

A chiropractic adjustment, also called a spinal adjustment or joint manipulation, often focuses on one, or multiple, areas of the spine. Your spine is made up of 5 different regions. There are 7 cervical vertebrae (the neck), 12 thoracic vertebrae (the middle back), 5 lumbar vertebrae (the low back), the sacrum (the base of the spine) and the coccyx (the tailbone). These vertebrae stack on top of one another and make up the many joints of your spine.

Joints are made up of bones with cartilage in between for cushioning. They are surrounded by tendons (which attach muscle to bone), ligaments (which attach one bone to another) and muscles. All of these parts have to work together for your body to move correctly and without pain. Chiropractors spend over 4,200 hours in both classroom and hands-on training to learn about the body and how to treat each of the spinal regions, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

The Basics

An adjustment is a very quick and specific force that chiropractors apply to a joint using their hands, or sometimes using a hand-held adjusting tool. There are a few different reasons your chiropractor may decide to perform an adjustment: to improve the way a joint moves, to reduce nerve irritation, or to reduce muscle tension or spasm. In any of these cases, the main goal of the chiropractic adjustment is to put the body in a state in which it can heal itself—without using medications or surgery. Most of the time, patients report feeling “looser” and have less pain and muscle tension after a chiropractic adjustment.

Many people think of a “cracking” or “popping” sound when they think of a chiropractic adjustment. Cavitation is the technical word that describes that noise, and it happens when pressure (in the form of gas—a combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide) is released from the joint that is being adjusted. During an adjustment, space is made in the joint, and trapped nitrogen is able to escape. The noise is similar to the cracking or popping sound you might have heard when pulling on your knuckles.


Some patients wonder about the safety of a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments performed by a trained and licensed chiropractor have been shown to be a safe and effective way to treat pain and dysfunctional joints and muscles. Your chiropractor has been educated to identify problems and has also been trained with screening and testing tools to decide whether or not a chiropractic adjustment is a good choice for you and your condition. Of course, if you ever have questions or concerns about your care, don’t hesitate to raise this issue when you are talking with your chiropractor.

A common question we hear from patients is, “Can’t I just ‘crack’ my own neck or back?” Here’s the short answer: You shouldn’t! Trying to adjust your own spine is kind of like trying to pull your own tooth. It might look easy enough, but you could really injure yourself more in the process. Often, we find that patients who “self-adjust” end up with pain because they are creating the wrong type of motion or too much motion (called hypermobility) in certain areas. That hypermobility causes ligaments, which are supposed to be supporting and protecting joints, to become unstable, and instability causes pain. In other cases, “self-adjusting” can cause those same ligaments to be sprained and muscles to be strained, leaving you with even more pain and a bigger problem than when you started. Your best bet is to leave the chiropractic adjusting to a professional.

If you would like to learn more about chiropractic adjustments and how they may help you, call to make an appointment.

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I've been coming to see Dr. Bob since 1984 for my back pain. After each visit, the vast improvement lasts about one whole month. Even after all these years, Dr. Bob continues to provide outstanding care for me, my children, and my grandchildren. I've referred several people to HealthWise Chiropractic, so they too can see the results I have. My favorite part of my visits is the friendliness and professionalism of the staff and doctors and, of course, the results I get that improve my daily living."
    Danny S.
  • "About ten years ago I was at the gym, I bent over and couldn't get up, the pain was horrible. I contacted Healthwise and Dr. Mike gave me an emergency appointment that evening. He did a complete physical and x-ray before he started any treatment. After my first treatment I was able to stand up and walk with minimal pain. With a few visits I was back to normal. I continued treatments as needed for the next several years.
    I see Dr. Bob regularly to stay fit and pain-free. He tests my strength and weakness to determine the best treatment. Our open discussion led him to help my acid reflux. I now exercise and walk as is essential for a septuagenarian.
    I told Dr. Bob that I was starting to get knee pain that I thought was arthritis; I didn't think chiropractic care could help. He told me about new equipment to help. I look forward to improvement.
    I was a skeptic of chiropractic care, now I would recommend HealthWise to anyone with chronic/simple pain. It worked for me. It can work for you!"
    Sherry B.
  • "I was very miserable with constant pain in my leg while knowing it had something to do with my back. My friend surprised me with an appointment with Dr. Bob. After being treated by Dr. Bob I knew right away it was exactly what I needed. I learned a lot through my conversations with the doctor. I am really thankful to Dr. Bob and his staff."
    Ed L.
  • "I had a very limited understanding of chiropractic care until I tried it for the first time 12 years ago. I came in with severe pain in my neck, which prohibited me from moving my head. I was greeted by a kind staff, had an exam and x-rays done on my first appointment followed by an adjustment. I felt so much better after my first adjustment and by following the treatment plan my headaches and migraines improved. My overall health has improved because of chiropractic care. Dr. Bob helps make sure that I am taking the right supplements to optimize my health and fitness performance. They have helped me with allergies, knee and shoulder pain, and earaches. I had no idea when I began my chiropractic journey just how much help the doctors and staff at HealthWise would be at improving my quality of life."
    Britt H.
  • "I have been a patient at HealthWise Chiropractic for over 20 years. In the past and currently I am seeing Dr. Bob, however, I have seen all docs at Healthwise. My general issues are usually seasonally related to sinus and allergies. Recently I have been receiving treatment for my hip and lower back. Dr. Bob zeros in on trigger points and quickly relieves my pain. He is a wealth of knowledge and offers help and suggestion on my health issues. The staff is friendly and helpful. I leave feeling better and I believe helps to keep my body aligned and energized. I have also come in after falls, injuries and surgeries. I truly believe my adjustments at the time added to a quicker recovery."
    Liz B.
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Bob for two and half months. . I see him for an adjustment every two weeks. I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time in January 2021 while working in Florida for my continued lower back pain and chronic bilateral hip bursitis. Because my pain was mostly relieved with continued adjustments, I decided to continue with treatment when returning to Wisconsin. I have been very happy with my continued pain relief/adjustments at HealthWise. I highly recommend anyone with chronic back and neck pain to try chiropractic adjustments here at HealthWise. It will make your life better."
    Marianne V.
  • "Really enjoyed the different things that they can do for you and your pain management. Would highly recommend."
    Rhiannon P.
  • "I enjoy coming, getting readjusted and any additional therapies. It has made my life healthier and less stressful. If I have questions, they are answered at that visit. The staff is very professional, personable and friendly. I always look forward to my next visit with them. I am glad to be part of Healthwise Chiropractic family:)"
    Marcella L.
  • "Dr. Mike is fantastic! He is very personable….will take time to really to your needs… I enjoy my visits…the maintenance has helped tremendously…..and he is there when the emergency pops up! Excellent Chiropractor!"
    Ann W.

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