Chiropractic Techniques

Back pain, neck pain, and even poor circulation in the extremities can take a toll on your health, and may be a result of poor spinal alignment. If you have poor posture, a misaligned spine can cause a variety of health problems and requires professional adjustment. Your chiropractor is trained in a number of chiropractic techniques that help align the spine and bring your body into balance; each technique offers benefits including reduced pain, increased mobility, and better health overall.

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation is the overall process of spinal adjustment used by your chiropractor, and involves ‘retraining’ the spine and surrounding muscles to adapt to a healthier state of functionality. Spinal manipulation is often used to increase mobility, and your chiropractor may place a significant amount of pressure to the spinal joint – often forcefully – to bring the entire spinal column into balance.

The hallmark of chiropractic care is the “spinal manipulation”, which is also called a “chiropractic adjustment.”
The purpose of the adjustment is to restore joint position and mobility by manually applying a controlled force to a restricted joint.
This restores proper function, relieves pressure on the surrounding nerves, reduces pain and muscle tightness, and allows tissues to heal.

There are over 20 different adjusting techniques, which can be used alone or in combination.


The focus of the Gonstead adjustment is to be as specific, precise, and accurate as possible; addressing only the problem areas (areas of subluxation). Great care is taken to ensure a bio-mechanically correct position and precise thrust to provide the most accurate and painless adjustment possible. The goal is to restore and maintain optimal health by locating and correcting any interference to the nervous system caused by vertebral subluxation. Gonstead technique utilizes the traditional chiropractic tables as well as the knee chest table and cervical chair to deliver specific adjustments.


Flexion-Distraction, (F/D) is a gentle, chiropractic treatment procedure utilized for back and neck pain. This painless non-invasive procedure is performed using a special treatment table that allows the practitioner to gently stretch and bend the back in various directions while he/she adds gentle pressure to different parts of the spine. There are no jerking movements at all. The table moves in a smooth rhythmic fashion as the practitioner moves his/her hands into different positions.

Impulse Adjusting

Impulse adjusting is an alternative to traditional manual techniques. It is designed to be both effective to treatment of spinal subluxation, as well as safe for osteoporotic patients. The Impulse Adjusting Instrument® is controlled by micro-computer circuitry housed within the device that produces a controlled force that chiropractors can use to treat different areas of the body. Impulse adjusting is a new technique developed to provide controlled treatments to the specific areas you’re having trouble with.

Impulse adjustments are high-tech. There is no popping or cracking with these adjustments , but rather very precise and targeted adjustments designed to specifically care for just the right areas. Years of research have gone into the development of the Impulse Instruments to create gentle chiropractic adjustments that are safe and effective for patients of all ages.


Graston Technique is a soft tissue diagnostic and therapeutic method that has been used in out patient clinics since 1994. Graston instruments- made of stainless steel and specifically designed and developed as an alternative to manual transverse friction massage- are used as an aid in the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue pathology and dysfunction. The instruments provide diagnostic tactile feedback to both the clinician and the patient, as the instruments act as a focused extension of the clinican’s own hands.

Clinical experience has shown that Graston Technique is a benefit to the management of a large variety of musculoskeletal disorders. These include: carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical pain, de Quervain’s Syndrome, epicondylitis, fibromyalgia, IT band syndrome, joint sprain, lower back pain, muscle strain, painful scar, plantar fascitis, post fracture pain and tendinitis. A large case series found that Graston Technique reduces numbness, increases patient functional capabilities both in activities of daily living and work related function.

Since the involved tissue binds with normal tissue, it develops a blood supply. As restrictions are released from healthy tissue, bruising may occur, especially in treating chronic conditions. Some areas of the body that have a very rich blood supply may produce more bruising. An increase in soreness and discomfort is not uncommon after the first treatment session and is most often a positive sign that restrictions have been released. Soreness is usually minimized after 48 to 72 hours and can be controlled with ice and stretching.

If you have not experienced the Graston Technique, yet you have lingering discomfort or stiffness, please ask us whether you may be helped by this effective treatment.

Extremity Adjustment

When chiropractors speak of extremities we will be talking about the joints of the body besides the joints in the spine. This would include: the jaw, ribs, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, fingers, hip, knee, ankle, foot, and toes.

Chiropractors have always looked to the spine for fixations, subluxations, and joint impropriety. These fixations, subluxations, and joint impropriety can also occur in your extremities. These extremity problems can sometimes cause chronic spinal problems. Most often the spine will be checked and adjusted before an extremity will be checked and adjusted (Extremity Adjustments should compliment Spinal Adjustments).

Possible symptoms of extremity fixations, subluxation, and joint impropriety include:

  • pain in the extremities or in extremity joints
  • fatigue in the extremities
  • weakness in the extremities
  • catches in the extremity joints
  • stiffness or immobility in the extremity joints
  • chronic cervical problems
  • chronic back problems

The goal of extremity adjusting will be to analyze the extremity, evaluate the extremity, establish an extremity treatment plan and co-ordinate this plan with the spinal treatment plan.


The Pettibon System uses a collection of manipulative techniques, performed both by hand or adjustive mechanical instruments, and rehabilitative exercises. It is a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the spine’s hard and soft tissues. It uses x-rays for diagnosis, assessing progress, and proof of treatment effectiveness. It tests each patient’s ability to respond to care, and trains patients in home care for faster correction.

The structure of the spine and, ultimately, posture are considered to be a requisite to maintaining health and  normal function. Abnormal posture can cause alterations in some of our basic physiological processes, such as headaches, blood pressure, emotions, lung capacity, and hormonal production. Yet maintaining an erect sitting position is difficult because postural control is mainly reflexive and involuntary. Therefore, although we can temporarily change our posture through voluntary muscular action, inevitably our conscious control bows to our reflexive, neurological control of posture. From this, we can logically presume that the best way to make a lasting change to spinal structure, or posture, is to correct posture from a reflexive, involuntary standpoint. This logic forms the foundation for the treatment protocol of The Pettibon System developed by Pettibon to correct the spine and posture through gradual adaptation of the spinal and postural reflexes.

Inversion Therapy

Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down or at an angle to apply gentle traction to the spine. Not only can inversion therapy help to treat back pain, but it can also be used to reverse the negative effects of aging on the spine. When the body’s weight is suspended from the lower body – rather than borne on the hands as in handstands or headstands or hanging from a bar with arms at sides, which are also forms of inversion – the pull of gravity may decompress the joints of the body below the anchor. Hanging by the feet, as with gravity boots or inversion tables, causes each joint in the body to be loaded in an equal and opposite manner to standing in an identical position of joint alignment.

Check out some case studies on inversion therapy

Thompson Chiropractic Techniques

The Thompson Technique is another method of adjustment that involves analyzing the length of the legs. This technique uses a ‘drop table’ for adjustment, where a gentle thrust is applied to the joints, which in turn, sets the drop piece into motion and targets the specific joint or tissue. After completing a leg check analysis, your chiropractor will determine the type of misalignment – cervical, pelvic, etc,- and then adjusts the legs using a combination of multiple thrusts on various joints.

Cox Flexion/Distraction Chiropractic Techniques

Cox Flexion Distraction involves controlled traction, or stretching, to specific spinal segments with the assistance of a movable table. This gentle technique is primarily utilized to treat disc herniations, or for patients with scoliosis or severe arthritis. It is also used to reduce headaches, and improve posture. If you are suffering from back, leg, neck, or arm pain and do not want to pursue surgery, the Cox Flexion/Distraction technique offers one option. It is considered a safe alternative to back surgery, and helps restore the range of motion in joints and muscles after bringing the spine into alignment. Treatment is performed on a special table that flexes and bends various muscles and joints.



Traction gently extends the neck opening the spaces between the cervical vertebrae and temporarily alleviating pressure on the affected discs. This treatment helps separate the vertebrae resulting in disc decompression, reduced nerve root pressure, and decreased. Neck traction can either be done continuously or intermittently, alternating between short periods of pulling and resting. It’s also possible to do cervical traction at home. There are pulley systems that you can hook up to a doorway, or devices that will enable you to perform cervical traction while lying down. It’s important if you do cervical traction on your own to see your chiropractor first to make sure that you buy the right equipment and learn how to set it up correctly.

Diversified technique (DT)

Diversified is the most common adjusting technique. It involves quick, light pressure to a joint, often causing a popping sound due to the sudden release of built-up pressure in the joint. It is usually painless, and some people say it feels like cracking your knuckles. Diversified is considered the most generic chiropractic manipulative technique and is differentiated from other techniques in that its objective is to restore proper movement and alignment of spine and joint dysfunction

Sacro Occipital Technique [SOT]

The SOT Blocking technique uses triangular-shaped blocks placed under the pelvis of the patient to realign the low back and pelvis.

Manipulative/Adjusting Instruments

Instead of delivering the adjustment by hand, the Adjusting Instrument is a hand-held, spring-loaded instrument used to deliver lighter and quicker pressure. The instrument can be used for all patients, and is often used for those who may not want or cannot have a manual adjustment.

What to Expect During Your First Visit

3 Phases of Chiropractic Care