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Is Spinal Manipulations And Adjustments Safe?



It's termed as "spinal manipulation" by spinal physiotherapists, and "spinal adjustments" by chiropractors and osteopaths, but they're essentially the same thing:

passive, high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust in a joint complex aimed to improve and/or restore motion, function and pain reduction.

The result of a successful manipulation or adjustment is a

  • "click"
  • "crack"
  • "pop"

sound and often with immediate pain/discomfort relief to the patient.

The popping and cracking experiences are mainly the sudden release of gases that are trapped in the fluid within the joint, and once that happens, the surface pressure of the joint capsule reduces immediately. Patients usually report also a sense of relief, decreased muscle pains.

how effective is a spinal adjustment or manipulation?

For simple cases of patients with purely acute spine pain with no neurological signs and no medical contraindications, spinal manipulation can be effective.

However, for patients whose spinal pain is one of the conditions (eg with other co-morbidities) or with neurological symptoms, it is not clear to proceed or the outcomes. Generally spinal adjustments or manipulations isn't for everyone.

what are the Contraindications and Precautions of spinal manipulations?

Spinal manipulations/adjustments are considered aggressive treatment techniques compared to other gentler techniques like

  • soft tissue management
  • joint mobilization
  • stretching
  • myofascial and trigger point release
  • etc

- hence the physiotherapist need to assess and be certain of the health and quality of the joint before performing any manipulations.

Contraindications include:

  • Spine fractures such as simple hairline cracks, spondylolisthesis or recent accident/injuries where fractures may not show up YET on X-rays

  • Upper cervical spine that is unstable, eg like if you look up you may feel your neck/head being not steady

  • Any conditions that may have caused the joint/ligaments to be weakened, such as cancer or arthritis

herniated disc

Generally spinal manipulations done by a spinal physiotherapist is safe and can be effective when done safely, properly and when the above conditions are met - it's very effective and quick to help patients with certain conditions eg wry neck ie when a patient wake up with their neck stuck in a specific painful position.

Manipulation in the hands of an experienced spinal physiotherapist will improve the range to near-full/normal almost immediately.



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Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists (sprains and fractures) and fingers, usually will benefit / require Hand Therapy to

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Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes



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Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to accelerate recovery and  shorten downtime / recovery period required.

It also prevents muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle performance. Having regular deep tissue and sports massage will keep your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence.

Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.



ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).

See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.

At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.

Follow up sessions are inline to provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

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