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What Is a Spinal Adjustment? What to Expect from Your Chiropractor

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Each year approximately 697 of every 100,000 New Yorkers visit the emergency room after a car accident. New York workers also experience a high rate of worker’s compensation injuries. Worker’s compensation injuries include injuries that happen at work.

Regardless of the cause, after an accident, there are insurance, legal, financial, and medical issues. There are resources available to help you address the paperwork and processes so your focus can be on healing.

You should seek out help to heal from your accident, however small your injury may seem and a chiropractor may help.

Chiropractors treat approximately 30 million people each year. Chiropractors treat different types of diseases and injuries.

Chiropractors use spinal adjustment, massage, exercise, and diet modification to address your injury. Keep in mind, chiropractors focus on the entire body and promote healing.  Read on to learn how spinal adjustment may help with your treatment after an on the job injury or car accident.

What is Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a complementary medical therapy. It also happens to be one of the most common complementary modalities experienced by Americans. Chiropractors believe that the majority of health conditions are caused by joint misalignment.

Misalignment of the spine puts additional pressure on the nerves of the body. This pressure on the nerves causes pain and health issues. Faults in the nervous system then cause illness in other body systems.

Chiropractic care focuses on the physical structure and function of the body and how it impacts health. The primary hypothesis is that when the bony structures, primarily the spine, are out of alignment it impacts the nerve’s ability to function and causes pain and discomfort in joints and muscles. There is some data to suggest that chiropractic care can help with other disorders.

If you correct the misalignment of the spine, then your body can harness its natural ability to heal itself. Chiropractors focus not only on correcting spinal alignment but also on other supportive modalities like exercise and nutritional counseling. Exercise helps to keep the spine in alignment after an adjustment and proper nutrition facilitates healing.


Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and then pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam. Chiropractors are licensed by the state. Like most healthcare professionals, chiropractors participate in continuing education to maintain their licenses.

Chiropractors can take additional course work after they graduate. This allows them to focus on specialized areas like pediatrics, athletics, or orthopedics. There are resources to help you find the right doctor without having to guess about their qualifications or specialization.

Check out our Doctor Directory to find a chiropractor that is close to your home.

What to Expect from Your First Chiropractic Visit

Your first chiropractic visit will be like most doctor’s visits. Be sure to share with them the details of your accident.

At this point, your focus should be on healing. If you have questions about what medical expenses will be covered, read more here. Don’t forget to save all your receipts.

We have a Q & A Section designed to help you find the answers that you need after your accident from the best places to get a spinal adjustment, legal help, and more! We care about your rights and want to help you get all the support you need after your accident.

Comprehensive Medical History

Because chiropractors focus on the whole body they will want a full medical history. Unlike traditional Western medicine where your doctor focuses primarily on the reason, you came into the office, for example, an injury or accident. Chiropractors will want to assess other medical issues that can be resolved as part of their treatment.

They will ask about the current accident plus any past injuries. You will also be asked about any other preexisting medical conditions. Bring all the medications you are taking with you to your first appointment. Be sure to share any over the counter or other herbal supplements that you are presently taking.

Your chiropractor will also ask about the use of any drugs or alcohol. Because Chiropractors are holistic you should expect questions about lifestyle habits as well. Chiropractors are interested in your exercise, diet, stress, and sleep habits. You should expect recommendations in these areas as part of your treatment plan.

The first appointment should take about an hour, and you should expect to arrive early to complete the official paperwork.

A Physical Exam

Your chiropractor will do a complete physical exam that may feel different than a traditional medical exam. Chiropractors use different equipment to assess your spine and the ways your body moves.

They will assess your spine and move your joints. They will assess your joint’s range of motion around the injured area but also in other parts of your body.

In some cases, where you feel pain is not where you have an injury. This is called referred pain and a chiropractor will evaluate this as part of your initial assessment. They will also watch the way you walk. A chiropractor may also order x-rays before starting a treatment plan.

If there are concerns about your blood pressure or cardiovascular health other tests may be recommended before you begin treatment.

Your Spine

Your spine allows you to stand upright, bend, walk, and twist. It is made up of 24 small bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other. What allows the bones to move is the disc in between each vertebra it prevents the bones from touching.

The vertebrae have a hole in the center that the spinal column fits through. There are also joints in the vertebrae, facet joints, they also allow the spine to move.

The spinal cord is the main hub, next to the brain, of the nervous system. From the spinal column, the nerves that talk to every cell in the body is connected. There are 31 main nerve roots that come off the spinal column.  These nerve roots pass through the space between the vertebra to talk to every cell in the body.

Why is Spine Important for Overall Health?

When the spine is healthy, the vertebra stack on top of each other in an S-shape. The shape allows the discs to maintain even pressure. The even pressure of the discs allows the nerves to pass through unobstructed. Unobstructed the nerves can send the signals needed for your body to function.

When the spine is not in alignment, the nerve function becomes hindered. This hinderance can be small, like the digestive system functioning, but not functioning ideally. Or it can cause severe back pain limiting functioning.

A chiropractor is trained to assess the spine. As they find abnormal alignment in the spine, they can then adjust it to move it back to a healthy position.

What to Expect from a Spinal Adjustment

Spinal manipulation, or spinal manipulative therapy, is the primary manual therapy performed by chiropractors. Chiropractors use force, called thrust, to return your spine to its ideal positioning. The amount of force used in a thrust is dependent on the state of your injury.

The spine consists of vertebrae that have extending points. It is these points that get out of alignment and press on nerves. The thrust is designed to put them back into their natural alignment.

You may hear a popping sound when you expect to experience the jerk during an adjustment. The sound is similar to the sound heard when you crack your knuckles.

Spinal manipulation is different than spinal mobilization. Spinal mobilization does not involve a thrust. Spinal mobilization is done within a joints range of motion, even if the range of motion is limited. Spinal manipulation works to expand a joints range of motion.

Chiropractic Equipment

Chiropractors use a specialized treatment table to perform spinal adjustments. Your chiropractor will use the table, their body weight, or other tools to move your body. While the focus is on the injured area, your chiropractor may also adjust other areas of your body and spine as part of your treatment.

Your chiropractors might also use things like the Graston Technique within their treatment. The goal of the Graston technique is to break down the scar tissue that has developed as a result of this, or previous injuries. Scar tissue and other soft tissue injuries can cause limits in joint range of motion and in some cases pain.

If you have questions about the type of equipment that will be used, be sure to ask.

Types of Pain Associated with A Spinal Adjustment

You should not feel any pain during your adjustment. It is not uncommon to experience some soreness in the area that was treated in the hours or days after your visit. Be sure to discuss with your chiropractor and physician how to address that pain.

Discuss with your chiropractor when they think you will begin to feel improvement. Be sure to tell them if your pain changes throughout treatment.

Other Possible Treatments

After your sessions, you will get written instructions. These instructions may include the recommended exercises to perform, changes to your diet, and possibly some herbal supplements.

You should schedule the next visit or visits recommended by your chiropractor at this point. Chiropractic treatment is done over a period of several weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. Future visits tend to be shorter but may include re-assessment to monitor your progress.


Diet recommendations are designed to promote healing and reduce inflammation. While, it is always suggested that you eat a healthy, balanced diet, after an injury, your body needs additional protein to rebuild damaged muscles.


Chiropractors do not prescribe medication or drugs but may recommend supplements for you to help in healing. Chiropractic care is dependent on your being an active participant in your treatment and healing. To achieve the optimal results you will need to comply with the other between visit recommendations.

Massage and Exercise

Massage is an integral part of most chiropractic treatment programs. When your joints are not aligned some of your muscles are overstretched and other muscles are tight then they should be.

Massage helps to return muscles to their normal length, which allows joints to return to their natural alignment. Massage also stimulates our nervous system to break down scar tissue and can help to increase your range of motion.

Muscles work in opposition, if some are tight others are weak. Your chiropractor will prescribe stretches and strengthening exercises to be performed in between sessions to help the muscles stay in their normal range of motion.

Massage, stretching and strengthening all work together as a combination treatment plan to help you after you have an accident.

Ultrasound or Electrical Stimulation

They may also use ultrasound or electrical stimulation to facilitate healing. Electrical stimulation can help to strengthen muscles around the injury area in a safe and pain-free manner.

Ultrasound is both a diagnostic and therapeutic tool. Ultrasound, like an x-ray, will show you deformities in soft tissues. It also helps to break down scar tissue and reduce inflammation if done properly.

Often pain and limited range of motion is caused by inflammation. Chiropractors use a variety of tools to address any inflammation you are experiencing.

Now you have a better idea of what to expect during your first chiropractic visit and how spinal manipulation and adjustment can help with your healing. After an injury, your focus should be on healing, so if you have questions about the process involved with your worker’s compensation or accident case explore our comprehensive resources.

Have You Been Injured in New York?

Workers’ compensation is complicated, we do not offer insurance or medical or legal services. However, we have put all the information you need in one place to help you navigate the process. Our goal is to help you take the guesswork out of paperwork, filing and finding the right doctor so you can focus on healing.

We have done the same for those injured in automobile accidents. If you are in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island or Long Island we have a directory of the top accident doctors to help you navigate the insurance and recovery process.

When you have the misfortune of suffering through a workplace accident, injury, or illness, you need to empower yourself as much as possible and cover yourself from every angle. Utilizing the available materials at The Accident Help Zone will help ensure that you completely understand your rights, obligations and what you should and shouldn’t do from the moment that you are injured.

Don’t leave your health or health or financial well-being to chance. Take the time to review our website. Then, contact us if you have questions or need additional information.