back adjustment

What Does A Chiropractic Adjustment Do?

Many patients know that getting a chiropractic adjustment can ease their pain and help them feel better. So how does an adjustment do that?
Rosie had been dealing with recurring headaches for a few months. Her family doctor diagnosed her as having tension headaches. Her headaches were starting to affect her focus and ability to work as an accountant.

She spoke with her chiropractor and began treatment. After 6 adjustments, her headaches started getting better and were coming less often. Rosie was also given exercises and tips to improve to her work setup. After a few more visits her headaches stopped and she was able work without trouble.

Bone Out Of Place?

People used to think that getting adjusted would help a bone that is “out of place”. The belief that was if your joint or a part of your spine was in the wrong position, an adjustment putting it back in the right position would help bring relief.

Garden Hose Theory?

Adding on to that theory, some people believed that if your bone was actually out of place, it might put pressure on your spinal nerves. The belief was that this pressure on your nerve would then lead to pain and discomfort.
This was otherwise know as the “stepping on a garden hose” notion. However, with more recent and ongoing research, the shift is now more towards a brain based theory to how an adjustment actually helps you get better.
can i run after a chiropractic adjustment

Core Muscles

All throughout your spine are little core muscles. There are 3 muscles that make up your deep core muscles:

  • multifidus
  • semispinalis
  • rotators

Your core muscles work together with your abs and muscles in your pelvis to move your body and stabilize your spine.

Your core muscles play a key role in checking and controlling the movement of your spine and body as you move about your day. They respond to help keep your spine stable and your body balanced in response to gravity.


When your little core muscles contract, they send nerve signals to your brain to let it know what they are doing. This also gives your brain info on where your joints and limbs are. This information is known as “proprioception”.

The signals sent to your brain are then bounced around to different parts of your brain for processing. Think of a large office building with different departments.

If your brain decides these signals are not related to anything dangerous or warning signals, these signals then travel to a part of your brain called your prefrontal cortex, or PFC. Your PFC is found right behind your forehead.

Pre-Frontal Cortex, PFC

Your PFC controls many different things. These include:

  • attention
  • decision making
  • language
  • planning
  • short term memory
  • speech

When your PFC gets this information, it then sends messages to the parts of your brain involved with flight or fight. Your PFC will tell these areas that there is nothing to worry about and they can relax.

getting your back adjusted


Injuries in your body can happen because of something traumatic such as a fall or accident. Your injuries can also be the result of something not traumatic, such as poor posture or repetitive movements over a long period of time. In both cases, this physical stress builds up in your body such as your neck or back.

This build up of physical stress causes that area of your spine to lose the ability to move and function normally. It starts to stiffen up.

As your spine stiffens up, those little core muscles that surround your spine will now contract or activate less than before. If you are having any sort of chronic pain, your little core muscles will also become smaller and weaker. Chronic pain has also been shown to cause changes in your brain.

neck adjustment


Now, your brain and eventually your PFC no longer receive the same kind of input that they once did. How your brain and PFC see your body is now changed.

When the input to your brain is changed, your brain now senses that something is not quite right and will start creating a feeling of pain. Sometimes this results in you noticing symptoms such as neck or back pain. Even without actual soft tissue damage, your brain may still create pain signals such as with many chronic pain problems.

Interestingly enough, sometimes your brain will not sense any pain even when there is actual tissue damage – this is known as the Paradox of Pain.

In addition to physical stress and injury, other types of stress can turn off your PFC. This includes mental and emotional stress. When your PFC gets turned off, a few things happen:

  1. You have a harder time relaxing
  2. Your body shifts away from repair mode
  3. The fight or flight response starts to kick in

Flexible Brains

Much of the world used to think that any changes to our brains was permanent and that was the end of it. What we now know is that our brains are actually quite adaptable.

Just as altered or reduced input to the brain can cause negative changes in your brain, increasing or improving this input can reverse those changes. This is know as, “neuroplasticity”. In other words, our brains are plastic, flexible and adaptable.

what does a chiropractic adjustment do



When you get adjusted, your chiropractor is specifically looking for those areas in your spine and joints that are not moving or working normally. Once those areas are found and adjusted, more normal movement is restored to your joints or spine.

By improving how well your spine and joints move and work helps your little core muscles awaken and start firing again. As those small muscles contract and fire, this will begin to resend those signals back to your brain and PFC.

With the return of normal info, your brain can now better see where your different body parts are. In addition, your brain is now better able to regulate and coordinate your body movements. This improved coordination also helps to prevent future injury.

The end result of an adjustment is that it can potentially improve the communication between your different body parts and your brain.

As for now, we do not yet know exactly how an adjustment helps your body recover. Even still, the latest research does indicate that we are getting closer to a conclusive answer.

Schedule Your Adjustment

Schedule Your Adjustment

Phone 604-738-1168

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it good to get an adjustment?

A: Adjustments can help you recover from injuries such as neck pain, headache and back pain. Other problems can include issues such as sciatica, whiplash and disc injuries.

Q: What part of my body can get adjusted?

A: Essentially any joint in your body can be adjusted. This includes your entire spine as well as your shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees and toes.

Q: What are the side effects of an adjustment?

A: Serious side effects of adjustments are extremely rare. More common side effects you may feel after getting adjusted include soreness, tenderness and fatigue. These side effects will usually go away after 2-3 days.

Results will of course vary from person to person