Health & Medical Alternative Medicine

When & Why Do We Need Spinal Manipulation? What Happens When A Spinal Joint Is Manipulated?

The long held belief by the public that Spinal Manipulation is tantamount to fracturing your neck or back is brought to us by our local movie house or DVD store in movies of Macho men twisting necks making them go "Crack" and Fracturing the neck, ending the life of the said ACTOR.
Or by the paranoid Medical world scared of a bit of competition - what can the GP do for your back other than refer you to a "Specialist" and give you pain killers that are not really Pain KILLERS as we might get Addicted to them ..
What actually happens when a Professional Physical Therapist such as an Osteopath or Chiropractor "Cracks - Gaps" Manipulates or Adjusts your neck or back? Usually the Spinal Facet joints are "Gapped" and they do this without pain to the Patient (Unlike when you strain your ankle...
Air escaping from the facet joints causes the "Cracking" or "Popping" sounds we hear and worry about.
The Gapping of Spinal Joints is in fact an inbuilt Safety Mechanism we have where by our spinal joints can Dis-engage themselves without pain or trauma to save us from fracturing other bones each time we fell over.
If the Spinal facet joints DID NOT "Give Way" and "Gap", Our Elbows, Clavicles(Collar bones), Ribs, wrist's and or Pelvis's, whatever we landed on that bore the "Load" of the fall, would fracture easily and regularly if the Spinal Joints did not "Give way - Gap" and dissipate the force of that fall.
Like the new collapsing crash barriers at major car races.
The way the Spinal joints "Gap" and "Give" is a NATURAL SAFETY Mechanism in built by nature throughout our evolution and development for standing on Two legs AGAINST GRAVITY.
Anatomy and Physiology of Spinal Dysfunction; A Vertebra has two joints articulating with the vertebra above and two joints with the vertebra below,the joints guide and control the "Ranges" of movement through both Side Bending and Rotation.
There can not be rotation without side bending of the Spinal Vertebrae.
BOTH movements happen in unison with each other.
When we bend Forwards or Backwards in the Mid line our "Load" from Gravity is on and through the Inter vertebral Disc (The spongy cartilage shock absorber between each vertebra, that has NO blood supply and can not heal once damaged) alone and NOT through the Facet Joints, the "Load" of Gravity is transferred to the Spinal joints whenever we rotate and side bend out of the mid line.
These Spinal facet joints can get caught - stuck at the end of a range of movement, a bit like having a gear box stuck in gear - you loose Neutral and your full range of movement.
The Facet joints have a membrane "the Synovial Membrane" this keeps Synovial fluid in the joint that the Joint "Rides" on.
The Synovial membrane can get caught and "Pinched" by the joint "Locking up"giving rise to the Knife like stabbing pain on movement when your back is acutely "Locked Up" or "Out".
When we bend over to get something lightweight from the car and end up on the ground unable to get up or walk.
To prevent the joint surfaces scuffing and the edges getting worn and damaged from you moving about while the joint is Locked up, the Muscles in the local area go into acute spasm to help "Splint" and protect the restricted joint.
The muscle spasm adds to the pain usually and is the main focus for most Therapists as manipulation is so out of "Vogue".
If you get manipulated by a Professional you are often out of pain in that or the next session of treatment.
Held at the end of a range of movement the vertebra appears to be out of Alignment, to be "Out" and is Restricted in its range of movement to the opposite side, causing pain and pinching/stabbing attacks.
This is most often on one side more than the other and often causes the Disc to be squashed on that side (the side it is restricted on) and to be "Bulging" on the other side.
This bulging can give rise to pressure on nerves exiting from between the two vertebrae resulting in anything from Pins and Needles to raging Sciatic pain..
The bulging is reduced as soon as the Manipulation restores the joint movement, no need for a disc operation! The Manipulation from an Osteopath is designed to "Release" the restricted Spinal Joint by sliding the stuck joints apart - very quickly.
As when two panes of glass are stuck together - you can not pull them directly apart you have to slide them..
This is why an intimate knowledge of Spinal Facet joint "Angles" is required so that the Osteopath can easily slide the joints to make them "Gap" returning the full range of motion like releasing the stuck gear box.
The Chiropractor sees the vertebra as Out of alignment and "Adjusts" the Joints back through the range of motion they got restricted in.
Normal alignment is returned and normal function can happen.
These are VERY brief descriptions and probably not everyone will agree but it is the best i can explain it..
it is not the purpose of this article to discuss the differences between Osteopaths and Chiropractors etc, more to show the similarities.
How to get the same end result - NO Pain..
The Physio Therapist manipulates on a very individual basis - whether the practitioner is interested in it or not.
Most Physio's work in Rehabilitation after accidents or operations and illnesses.
When they work in Sports Medicine they often take manipulation and soft tissue techniques on board.

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