Chiropractic adjustment — also called spinal manipulation — involves moving a joint beyond its usual range of motion but not beyond the range of motion the joint is designed to move, anatomically speaking. You often will hear a popping or cracking noise during chiropractic adjustment as the joint is manipulated.
The goal of chiropractic adjustment is to relieve pain and improve your body’s physical function. Chiropractic adjustment is performed by a chiropractic doctor.
Heat provided by the hot packs has several important benefits. It relaxes tight muscles causing tissues to relax. This decreases pain caused by muscle tension or spasms. It also causes vaso-dilation of the blood vessels which increases circulation to the area. Patients with muscle strains, spasms, or arthritis often benefit from treatment with moist hot packs.
Cold packs are a frozen gel substance used by physical therapists to treat areas of pain and inflammation. The cold packs are wrapped in a wet towel and applied directly to the area in need of treatment. The cold transferred to the patient’s skin, muscle, and tissue has several beneficial effects. The cold temperature causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the area. This decreases the inflammation in the area. By decreasing inflammation, pain and swelling are decreased.
Ultrasound machines are a treatment modality used by physical therapists that utilize high or low frequency sound waves. These sound waves are transmitted to the surrounding tissue and vasculature. They penetrate the muscles to cause deep tissue/muscle warming. This promotes tissue relaxation and therefore is useful in treating muscle tightness and spasms. The warming effect of the sound waves also cause vessel vaso-dilation and increase circulation to the area that assists in healing. The physical therapist can also adjust the frequency on the machine to use waves that will decrease inflammation.
Electrical stimulation uses an electrical current to cause a single muscle or a group of muscles to contract. By placing electrodes on the skin in various locations the physical therapist can recruit the appropriate muscle fibers. Contracting the muscle via electrical stimulation helps strengthen the affected muscle. The physical therapist can change the current setting to allow for a forceful or gentle muscle contraction. Along with increasing muscle strength, the contraction of the muscle also promotes blood supply to the area that assists in healing.
The term “traction” applies to the use of weights and other forces to treat skeletal and muscular disorders, pinched or compressed nerves and injuries to the joints, vertebrae, muscles and ligaments by stretching the muscles and ligaments and increasing the space between vertebrae. Chiropractic traction may also help to relieve the pain caused by herniated or bulging discs or by disc degenerative disorders.
Manual Therapy Techniques
Manual therapy techniques are skilled hand movements and skilled passive movements of joints and soft tissue and are intended to improve tissue extensibility; increase range of motion; induce relaxation; mobilize or manipulate soft tissue and joints; modulate pain; and reduce soft tissue swelling, inflammation, or restriction. Techniques may include manual lymphatic drainage, manual traction, massage, mobilization/manipulation, and passive range of motion.