A Simple Explanation of How a Chiropractic Adjustment Relaxes Your Muscles

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

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.

Numbness in Fingers

so, you’re getting some numbness or tingling in your hands and fingers? This article will briefly explain some of the reasons you may be experiencing this discomfort, which can feel like a mild pain, pins and needles, numbness, tingling, or a heavy feeling in your hands or arms.

Vascular Cause – the blood supply to the arms passes through the shoulder area. An important location to consider outside of what people typically consider is the area underneath and behind the clavicle bone. It is this area where most of the anatomy going into the arms originates. Problems there will likely cause arm problems.  With vascular causes, look for swelling or discoloration.

Some of the main causes of vascular insufficiency leading to arm, finger or hand numbness or tingling include:

-traumatic – when an injury or accident causes damage to the arteries feeding the arm or hand.

-compressive – when a blood vessel is compressed causing decreased blood, such as when sleeping with your arm under your head and waking up with your arm “asleep”. Other times, muscle spasm can squeeze a blood vessel, or postural distortions can stretch (traction) a vessel and decrease the diameter enough to decrease blood flow.

-tumors/malformations – tumors or deformed blood vessels can block blood flow.

Vascular problems may occur more commonly in individuals with certain diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or kidney failure, or in dialysis patients. Occupational exposure (vibrating tools, cold) can be a factor, and smoking also can aggravate and cause vascular disease. – Source

Neurological Cause – damage or interference to the nervous system can cause symptoms like pins & needles, numbness or tingling. Quite often the area to look to is the same as with vascular issues – the area behind and underneath the clavicle bone. It is here that many nerves exit the spine to innervate the upper extremities. Problems here,  or right at the spine, often show up as pain or numbness in the hands or arms.

Some of the main causes of neurological numbness or tingling include:

-trauma / disc injury – if the vertebral discs of the cervical spine (the part of the spine that comprises the neck bones) are injured or inflamed, this can irritate delicate nerve roots and cause pain or numbness in different parts of the arms. Other traumas, such as bending the head and neck sideways too much (especially by impact with something) can tear the nerves or completely sever them, and cause paralysis or neurological deficits in the arms.

-tumors – tumors on or near nerves can pinch the nerves.

-vertebral misalignments – commonly called “subluxations”, these spinal misalignments put either direct or indirect pressuree on the nerves that feed the arms, and cause pain or numbness into the arms or fingers.

-muscle spasm – hypertonic, spastic muscles can put pressure on nerves.


If you have symptoms like there, consult your doctor. If you live in Frederick, give us a call. Take care.

Frederick Chiropractors Donate Care to Iraq & Afghanistan vets

The Frederick chiropractors at Park Bench Chiropractic, just north of downtown on North Market Street, have been participating in an International Chiropractors Association program designed to provide free access to chiropractic care for returning veterans. At Park Bench Chiropractic the doctors take very seriously their opportunity to give back to the community. As chiropractors in their thirties, the doctors at Park Bench have the honor of growing up alongside the generations doing much of the work overseas  as members of the US military.

To date, Frederick’s Park Bench Chiropractic has provided nearly $30,000 worth of complimentary physical examinations, chiropractic spinal and extremity adjustments, physical therapy modalities and other services. Their military and ex-military clients present with issues ranging from discomfort during pregnancy, failed back surgery-related pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, disc bulges and inflammation, headaches, and simple back and neck pain. Dozens of individuals, including many from Fort Detrick, have given the doctors at Park Bench the honor of providing care for them.

Visit their website at www.parkbenchchiropractic.com for more information about their practice.

Headache and Neck Pain Research Update

Here at Park Bench Chiropractic in Frederick we think it’s very important to stay up-to-date with the latest scientific research regarding chiropractic and conditions like neck-related headaches. From time to time we will summarize recent research on topics we find important for our patients as a service to the community. We believe that knowledge is power – especially with your health – and this will help people make informed decisions about their health options.

Today’s article is about the difference between headaches that originate from the head and those headaches that originate from the neck. Many times you can get a headache and the cause of that headache is a problem in your neck muscles or spinal misalignment.

While neck-related headache (“cervicogenic headache”) can have symptoms very similar to a migraine, one of the main differences is the presence of pain down to the shoulder or arm and a history of neck trauma.

This makes sense when you consider that for a headache to be cervicogenic it must be one that has a source in the neck which refers pain to the head. This means that a source must be identified. Restricted range of cervical motion, tenderness over the zygapophyseal joints, and occipital tenderness have all been used as diagnostic criteria, although interobserver reliability is low.

Studies have been done that completely anesthetize different nerve root levels, and some of these studies were successful in completely eliminating the pain. This clearly demonstrates that the pain was being referred from nerves in the neck. Other similar studies doing the same thing weren’t successful.

Perhaps the best way to definitively diagnose a headache as cervicogenic is to treat the supposed neck condition and then, if the treatment is successful, then researches concluded that the headache must have been from a pain source in the neck.

Source: Distinguishing primary headache disorders from cervicogenic headache – Clinical and therapeutic implications, University of Newcastle Department of Clinical Research, Newcastle Hospital, New South Wales, Australia