As a chiropractor, sometimes I forget to just use simple terms to describe how chiropractic works. This short article here will outline some of the scientific fundamentals regarding how chiropractic is able to help so much despite seeming so simple. Different chiropractors focus on and talk about different aspects of how chiropractic can help…this short post will just try to summarize how the mechanics of a chiropractic adjustment create positive change in the muscles. While my real goal is to put it out there in simple terms, I use plenty of scientific language upfront to allow anyone who reads this article the ability to head over to Google and search for more information about the terms I use. An educated person tends to make better healthcare decisions. At the end of this article, before the reference links, you can find the simple part in bold.
The muscles which cross a joint are typically innervated by the same nerve which innervates the actual joint (as well as the skin covering the distal muscle attachment [insertion]). That is known as Hilton’s Law, and this is an important fact to consider. A chiropractic adjustment creates a barrage of sensory input from nerve cells found in muscles called muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs, and from nerves in the joint capsule. Large inputs of proprioceptive sensation can lead to immediate decrease in pain sensation.
When you get a chiropractic adjustment the chiropractor is taking a spinal joint beyond it’s normal range of motion. The brief expansion or stretching of the joint is accompanied by a similar fast stretch of the muscular tendons that cross that joint. The tendon stretching immediately leads to a reflex response that causes those muscles to relax and become less tense. This is most effective with the deep back and neck muscles, and a chiropractic adjustment is effective whether it is specific to one vertebrae or to a vertebral region.
Summarized in laymen’s terms: chiropractic adjustments reduce tension in spinal muscles.
Additional information about the topic discussed can be found at the US National Institute of Health PubMed site,such as the Neurophysiological effects of spinal manipulation and Immediate Effects of Region-Specific and Non-Region-Specific Spinal Manipulative Therapy in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial.