There’s an abundance of research available showing the efficacy of chiropractic instrument assisted adjustments as compared to manual adjustments.
You’ve likely seen empirical evidence of this in your own practice. However, there is another important factor to consider beyond efficacy when using adjusting instruments. You also need to look at how to maintain safety while performing instrument adjustments, both for you and for your patients.
There is no question that properly sanitizing your adjusting instruments is your primary method of keeping your patients safe from any transmission of infectious agents.1
This should be done between each patient, even if you only use the instrument one time. Look for sanitizing products that will not leave a residue behind on the adjusting instrument. You should also wash your hands with antibacterial soap and sanitizer between each patient, to further minimize the possibility of infection.1
You will also need to keep an eye on the silicone tips on your adjusting instrument. Over time, sanitizing products will cause the silicone to become dry and cracked.2 Having a spare set of tips at all times will increase patient safety by not only further protecting them against infection, but will cause less discomfort than if you perform an adjustment with worn or cracked tips.
As with any mechanical device, your adjusting instrument will be prone to sticking over time.2 Of course, the danger here is that you may end up delivering not enough or too much thrust in order to compensate for any gears and levers that stick.
Look for a lubricant that will not run the risk of breaking down the silicone tips, should it accidentally come in touch with them. Follow any manufacturer guidelines for how to lubricate your adjusting instrument, including how often it should be done.
In terms of delivering the proper amount of force for an instrument assisted adjustment, be sure to properly calibrate your adjusting instrument if it is on a computer-based system. This will give you information on precisely how much force to use, as well as where the trigger points may be.
You should do this for each visit, as you will be able to track the effectiveness of your treatments over time. Obviously, proper calibration will boost not only treatment effectiveness, but also safety, as it will prevent you from potentially performing an adjustment with too much thrust.
Obviously, following proper sanitary, maintenance, and treatment protocols will protect both you and your patient. However, there are additional measures you can take for your own safety in performing instrument assisted adjustments.
You likely think a great deal about optimal positioning of your patient on the table to deliver an instrument assisted adjustment. However, you also need to think about the best way to position your body.
For example, if you have a difficult time reaching across a patient to do an adjustment because you are on the shorter side, you may need to think about ways to give yourself an extra bit of height so that you are not at an awkward angle. One possibility is a step stool with a wide, non-skid surface so that you can easily perform adjustments without worrying about being off balance.
There is no question that you want your instrument assisted adjustments to be effective for relieving your patients’ medical problems. However, you will also want to make sure that both your patient and you are safe while you are delivering those adjustments.
- Evans, M. W., Ramcharan, M., Floyd, R., et al. (2009). A proposed protocol for hand and table sanitizing in chiropractic clinics and education institutions. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 8(1), 38–47. http://doi.org/10.1016
- Beychok T. How to properly clean and store your chiropractic equipment. Chiropractic Economics April 20, 2016.