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Physical Manipulation

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Physical Manipulation describes any of a number of specialized manual or mechanical procedures used in an effort to affect the alignment, motion or function of spinal joints and their relationship with the muscular and nervous system. The procedures make up the mainstay of Chiropractic, massage, and physical therapy. The sessions may be supplemented with exercise, physiotherapy modalities, and nutritional recommendations. Claims made for the benefits of spinal, joint, and muscular adjustments range from temporary analgesic or pain relieving effects to long term wellness and preventive care.

The original physical manipulation was a variation of a procedure known today as spinal manipulation. Manipulation of the spine and joints is documented as far back as Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians and was carried through the ages by families of bonesetters. Spine and joint manipulations are generally described as a high velocity, low amplitude, (HVLA) thrust, that usually causes an audible "popping" sound. The effects of this process will continue for hours while it is the body reintegrates to its new alignment.

The effects of spinal and joint adjustment vary depending on the method performed. All techniques claim effects similar to other manual therapies, ranging from decreased muscle tension to reduced stress. Most of these effects can be attributed to theoretical neurological pathways that modulate pain and the sense of the body in space and therefore affect muscle tone and postural balance. Some techniques use adjustments in an effort to restore proper posture and curvatures suggesting that posture is related to health. Regardless of the technique used, most emphasize the repetitive use of adjustments over time in an effort to retrain the body's nervous system.

The effects of spinal and joint manipulation have been shown to include: temporary relief of musculoskeletal pain and shortened time to recover from acute back sprains. Research on spinal manipulation shows that it is effective for the treatment of acute low back pain, tension headaches and some musculoskeletal issues.

Author: Christopher Holder, ND



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