Many types of chiropractic instruments are frequently used in practices around the world.
These tools are capable of treating numerous conditions, including many that affect the extremities. Issues with the shoulders and knees are often treated with instruments due to the delicate nature of the joints. But the most common problem that chiropractic patients report is back pain, which in many cases can be effectively addressed with instrument adjusting.
Lumbar disc herniation
Lumbar disc herniation usually occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old, and occurs in men more often than women.1
Many people with herniated discs prefer conservative chiropractic treatment, rather than a surgical approach. In cases of lumbar disc herniation, there is some evidence that mechanical force manipulations “may provide definitive benefits over side-posture manipulation of the lumbar spine in treatment of resistive disc lesions, because of the lack of torsional stress imposed upon the disc during instrumental spinal adjustment.”2
Cervical disc degeneration
Another condition that DCs may choose to treat using instrument assisted manipulation is cervical disc degeneration. Using an instrument allows for a gentler adjustment. Additionally, mechanical force instruments provide targeted, specific movements. Instruments designed for soft-tissue mobilization are also used to bring relief to patients with cervical disc degeneration.
Although cervical disc degeneration cannot be cured, chiropractors can often find ways to help patients manage the associated pain. The use of instrument adjusting may well be part of that treatment. In one study that explored how DCs in Australia approach their treatment plans, instrument adjusting was the second most common technique chosen by most practitioners.3
One study looked at the efficacy of using instrument-assisted adjusting to treat a woman who suffered from post-traumatic cervical syndrome involving protruding discs. Her condition did not respond to traditional, high-velocity, manual adjustments, but after a series of adjustments with a short-lever, mechanical force instrument, she experienced a complete resolution of symptoms.4
Every patient, doctor, and situation is unique. The question of whether or not instrument adjusting is the appropriate way to treat a condition affecting the spine requires expert analysis. But having the tools and knowledge available may mean the difference between successful and failed patient outcomes. Learning about instrument adjusting for the spine and how it is being used by others in the field may lead you to helping more patients.
1 Jordon J. Herniated lumbar disc. BMJ Clin Evid. 2009;2009:1118.
2 Polkinghorn BS, Colloca CJ. Treatment of symptomatic lumbar disc herniation using activator methods chiropractic technique. J Manipulative Physiol Ther.1998 Mar-Apr;21(3):187-96.
3 Clijsters M, Fronzoni F, Jenkins H. Chiropr Man Therap. Overall frequency of use of each technique for specific musculoskeletal conditions. 2014;22:33.
4 Polkinghorn BS. Treatment of cervical disc protrusions via instrumental chiropractic adjustment. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1998;21(2):114-21.