So you’ve just been to your chiropractor, and he or she has done something to you. What is it exactly that a chiropractor does when they adjust you? How do they know what to adjust? And what happens when a patient has a toxic release?

Chiropractic Adjustment

What is a chiropractic adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustment is done to alleviate joint, muscle or bone pain by manipulating the musculoskeletal system and correcting spinal misalignments. Licensed chiropractors, trained specialists who perform chiropractic care, use their hands or special equipment to safely conduct manipulations. Chiropractic adjustment can provide pain relief to patients, increase range of motion and improve posture.

Chiropractic adjustment techniques

So what happens during a chiropractic adjustment session? Here’s what’s involved.

Generally, a chiropractor will perform the adjustment once you’re on a chiropractic table. Before spinal corrections are made, a thorough examination involving x-rays (if necessary) and palpation is conducted.

Depending on the chiropractor’s diagnosis and the treatment plan they’ve come up with for you, the adjustment method they use may vary. Using their hands or special equipment, they will apply force—sudden and controlled—to your spinal joint. Although there are currently more than 100 techniques that can be employed for chiropractic adjustments, the following are the most common:

Activator technique

This technique delivers the same quick and controlled thrust performed in most manual adjustments. The difference here is that a small handheld device called the activator is used.

Diversified technique

This aims to provide relief from pain by using a quick and controlled low-amplitude force through a variety of adjustment techniques. Hands are used to perform this technique.

Drop-table technique

As the name suggests, this technique utilises a table that allows the chiropractor to lift and drop areas of the body being worked on as they apply a quick yet gentle force. This technique is also referred to as the Thompson technique.

Flexion-distraction technique

Like the drop-table technique, flexion-distraction uses a specially designed, segmented table. Gentle manipulations are performed to decompress the spine.

Gonstead technique

Chiropractors use Gonstead to perform adjustments on the pelvis and lower spine while the patient is lying on their side.

Spinal Mobilisation

This differs from other chiropractic techniques where a high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust is used. Contrastingly, it uses gentle movement to mobilise the joint and enhance its function.

Regardless of the adjustment technique being used, the underlying purpose is the same: to correct spinal misalignments and improve your overall well-being. During the treatment, you may experience hearing popping or cracking sounds. These sounds are part of the process and not something to be alarmed about. This is known as joint cavitation where gas is released from the joints.

How do chiropractors know what to adjust?

So how does a chiropractor know what to adjust when they perform spinal manipulations?

Well, before you go through a chiropractic adjustment, you’ll need to first undergo an initial consultation and physical exam with your chiropractor. Through the consultation, where you’ll be asked about your medical history, and physical exam, the chiropractor can assess what kind of treatment will be appropriate for you.

When it comes to the actual adjustment, they will look at several factors. This includes assessing your gait, posture and range of motion to determine your comfort level while performing various movements. Palpation is also used to identify any misalignments and areas that need adjusting. Palpation is when a health professional uses their hands to examine parts of the body and locate tenderness, injury or pain. Aside from these, a chiropractor may also use your diagnostic results or symptoms to assess how they can proceed with making spinal adjustments. All these factors play a vital role in helping a chiropractor determine where and how to adjust.

Chiropractic Toxic Release

After a chiropractic adjustment session, some people may experience potential side effects. These effects are a result of toxins finally being released through spinal manipulation. Referred to as chiropractic toxic release, this is part of the process and can be experienced by approximately 20% of patients.

Chiropractic toxic release symptoms

While not everyone gets symptoms after a chiropractic adjustment, some may experience the following:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue, aching or soreness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Stiffness of the muscles

If ever you do experience any of the above, you must avoid any strenuous work and get plenty of rest to help you better manage your symptoms. Hydrating more and eating nutritious meals can also help you get back in tip-top shape.

Chiropractic toxic release FAQs

To help you understand chiropractic toxic release better, here are some answers to a few commonly asked questions about it:

Q: Is chiropractic toxic release real?

A: Chiropractic toxic release is a natural part of the adjustment process after receiving chiropractic care. For some, they may experience temporary side effects due to toxic release. As your body adjusts to the improved joint function, the side effects will also disappear.

Q: How long can toxic release last?

A: How long you will experience toxic release symptoms after chiropractic adjustment will differ from person to person. Typically, however, the side effects won’t last for more than a couple of days at most. Some people also experience them for only a few hours.

Q: How do you treat a toxic release?

A: The effects of toxic release lessen the more you receive chiropractic care and your body gets used to spinal manipulation. For those who experience its side effects, it’s essential to get the proper rest that your body requires. Getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water will help you become better over time. For particularly sore or aching muscles, you can apply an ice pack to minimise tenderness and pain.

Keep in mind that chiropractic adjustments should only be performed by licensed and trained chiropractors. At Ridgeway Health and Wellness, we provide quality chiropractic care that can enhance your overall well-being.

Book an appointment with us today. To learn more about our services or your first visit with us, call 01793 814567 or email

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