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Adjustments or Chiropractic Manipulations are specific, safe, gentle and fast forces that push on a vertebra and stretch the joints, ligaments and musculature, they also stimulate nerve receptors in the joint capsule. The aim of the Adjustment is to stimulate the nervous system and reintroduce movement and break the dysfunctional patterns caused by Subluxations.

There are both neurological and mechanical effects of chiropractic Adjustments:

The Neurological effects of Adjustments

The nerve endings in the spine are stimulated by the adjustment. The muscles, the ligaments, the joint capsule, the muscle tendons and the intervertabral discs all have nerve receptors. The stimulation of the nerve receptors from the adjustment causes an alteration in the flow of sensory information or nerve signals into the spinal cord and from there to the brain. (Pickar and Wheeler, 2001).

Adjustments can alter the dysfunctional sensory information and induces a completely new sensory input. This corrects Subluxations!

The change in sensory information affects the integration within the spine and the muscles and the nerves. These changes affect the way that muscles contract and their resting tone and can also override pain signals.

Nerves that carry pain signals also carry those for pressure, stretch and touch.
If there are more signals from the touch, stretch and pressure receptors then from the pain receptors then the pain signals and the perception of pain is decreased. The same way rubbing your knee after you bump it makes it feel better.

Because the stimulation of receptors during the adjustment activates reflex centres in the spinal cord and in the brain they can also have affects in the control of the musculature of organs and glands. This can affect the nervous systems excitation level and the Autonomic Nervous System; this is the reason why most people feel relaxed after being adjusted.

Adjustments can cause reflex changes in muscle activity distant to the site of the adjustment. All muscles have nerves controlling them. These nerves come from the spinal cord and exit between the vertebrae. When reflex centres attached to specific segments are stimulated it has global affects on the segment itself and also on the course of the nerve from that segment. This can decrease muscle spasm and increase muscle strength as a muscles control by the nerve improves.

The Mechanical effects of Adjustments

The mechanical effects of Adjustments occur due to the force of the adjustment as it stretches the joint capsules, ligaments and musculature.

Form follows function, as the function of the vertebral elements improves so does their health and their physical integrity.

Adjustments cause microtearing of fibrous adhesions (scar tissue) and increase the range of motion of joints. If fibrous adhesions are diminished the joint capsules are left supple and elastic following adjustments. There is a decrease in compressive loading forces though the joints as articulation improves. If a segement continues to move in a healthy manner it decreases the periarticular fibrosis or growth of scar tissue around the joints. This globally improves the health of the elements of the segment.

Healthy ligaments have a high failure or yield point and are less prone to injury as there is an increase in thickness of healthy collagen fibers(Form following function).
There is more stable movement around the disc that improves its biochemistry.

Healthy moving vertebrae have increased bone density, have decreased Eburnation or arthritis and are less prone to Osteophyte (bone spur) formation.

Adjustments decrease connective tissue fibrosis within the muscle (adhesions). Muscles have an increase in healthy collagen fiber thickness and have increased mass. There is an increase in mitochondrial content (cells’ ability to make energy) which makes them stronger and less prone to fatigue.