Love ’em or hate’ em – spinal manipulations are a therapeutic tool used in clinic to modify symptoms, improve movement quality and facilitate recovery…
But how do they work?
First, let’s clear this up – what we are categorically NOT doing is correcting vertebral rotations, altering disc bulges or re-aligning the spine. These are just a few of the explanations that are (unfortunately) still banded about; and they just ain’t what’s going down. Full stop
So what is actually happening
Well, without delving too far into the nitty-gritty sciency bits, the manipulation itself is actually just a very slight and gentle parting of the articulate surfaces, depressurisation of the joint and facilitating the release of gasseous substance within – similar to separating a suction pad from a surface. Stimulus of this cavitation has a direct impact on the surrounding tissues, and it elicits some form of neurophysiological effect on the body that reduces localised muscular tension, improves range of movement and provides a bit of ‘feel good factor’ via a dash of endorphin release and even a sense of being cared for.
What does this mean
As attractive as the theory of ‘spinal realignment’ may sound, a plethora of research into spinal manipulation, supports our current understanding that the benefit of intervention is far more likely to be due to a complex neurophysiological response influencing pain-gate mechanisms, motor-control systems and endorphin release, as opposed to a more traditional biomechanical viewpoint
Should spinal manipulations be used alone
When deemed clinically appropriate, I advocate and practice correct manipulation. And, although we are confident that there are no long-lasting repositioning of joints, we cannot deny that appropriate manipulation can provide both subjectively and objectively measurable improvements regarding experience of pain, movement quality and functionality.
Further to this, ‘technique’ is undeniably most successful when used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, therefore we can, and should, measure each patients recovery against KPI’s in their personal management plan.
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The Osteo Practice