by Julie Duck

As a chiropractor, you are educated to use your hands to effect change in patients’ bodies. While hands-on adjusting remains the gold standard of chiropractic care, instrument adjusting has made a name for itself as an effective way to gently adjust patients while also being gentle on you.

There are several choices with instrument adjusting that includes the use of standard spring-loaded instruments, as well as high-speed “electronic” devices that move so quickly that the muscles can’t resist the adjustment. If you are keen on learning more about instrument adjusting, or if you currently utilize one technique or another, it is wise to carefully consider what each brings to the adjusting table.

A Standard is Born

Created from a dental device originally used to crack impacted wisdom teeth out of the jaw, the first standard adjusting instrument utilized a rubber doorstop at the end. After decades of improvement, today’s spring-loaded adjusting instrument typically delivers chiropractic thrusts between 10 pounds and 37 pounds of pressure.

Techniques for the use of adjusting instruments were then developed, with an emphasis on low-force, high-speed
adjusting. And as the popularity of adjusting instruments grew, so did training in the technique, with schools that once shunned the idea of instrument adjusting now embracing its benefits.

Many DCs who favor standard adjusting instruments like that it seems to offer better, quicker results than manual techniques. This means less soreness for the patient because less force is necessary to achieve the desired outcome. And because it offers different settings, the standard adjusting instrument can be used for a wide range of age groups, from children to patients in their golden years.

Additionally, apprehensive “would-be”patients may consider trying chiropractic treatment if you offer instrument adjusting.

Speed and Agility

With instrument adjusting, getting in and out of the adjustment is a game of skill and speed. Faster, electric instruments perform the adjustment before the muscles have a chance to tighten and resist. They also offer less force and recoil than standard spring-loaded adjusting tools, are kinder to your upper extremities, and allow for multiple thrusts. Patients who benefit from high-speed adjusting include all of those mentioned above, as well as those who are overweight or who desire a low-force adjustment.

The gentleness of the instrument helps to allay fears while accomplishing treatment goals. There are several choices of high-speed adjusting instruments available on the market, each touting its ability to quickly perform the adjustment. Varying styluses, sleeves, and tips are available, depending on the manufacturer, that enable you to use the instruments for particular types of adjustments, as well as to reach soft tissue and acupressure points, among others.

Complementing Your Practice With Instrument Adjusting

There are many DCs who combine instrument adjusting with manual techniques in practice. Whether you use a standard spring-loaded adjusting instrument, or high-speed electric instrument, is based on preferences and outcomes. Its growing popularity is indicative that instrument adjusting is here to stay according to a survey by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 72 percent of today’s DCs use adjusting instruments in their practices. With this in mind, it is clear that your patients can certainly benefit from having a multitude of solutions, including instrument adjusting, available to bring about alignment and wellness.

Which Route to Take?

While hands-on adjusting will always be the preferred technique among DCs, instrument adjusting offers an effective alternative that is gentle to patients and easier on you. Your patients surely appreciate that you help them find relief from pain, whatever technique you implement, but if you choose to go the instrument adjusting route, several choices await you.

Julie Duck is the former editor of Chiropractic Products and a healthcare writer with more than 16 years of experience. She can be reached by email at