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What Is An Adjustment? And Will It Hurt?

Have you ever wondered why chiropractors do adjustments? Why they make that "popping" noise, and what happens when they move your neck or spine in just the right way? If so, this post is for you. I'll walk you through these questions and others, so that by the end of it, you'll have a better idea of how a chiropractic adjustment works, and whether this may be a treatment approach that is right for you.

Why do chiropractors adjust?

Chiropractors adjust the spine to restore normal motion to joints of the spine and extremities- yes you heard that right chiropractors adjust and treat all areas of the body not just the spine. Proper joint function and motion is necessary to perform activities, whether you are an elite athlete or just looking to keep up with your grandkids without aches and pains and undue muscle tension.

In addition to restoring the mobility of your body’s joints, adjustments help to relax muscles surrounding painful or restricted joints, alleviate pain (hypoalgesic effects), and improve your biomechanics and posture. This is the case whether you are dealing with an acute injury, chronic pain, or just feeling a little too tight or stiff.

Low back adjustment

What does the adjustment feel like and will it hurt?

There is no need to fear the adjustment. It is generally comfortable, although dependent on tissue tension and inflammation in the area, there can be some mild discomfort. Often the sensation is described as feeling a release of pressure or pain.

As we adjust your joint(s) we take them through their normal range of motion. You may hear or feel some pops or cracks. Contrary to popular belief these audibles are not bones being put back into place, rather as we stretch the joint capsule we create bubbles within the joint fluid which subsequently cavitate (pop).

Whether you feel some slight discomfort or hear some pops this is all a normal outcome and should not cause concern – it only means that we are increasing the mobility of your pesky painful or stiff joints.

What happens during my adjustment?

When you come to the clinic, your chiropractor will first perform a complete evaluation of your area of complaint. This may include sending you for an X-rays or other tests if they are needed. They'll then go over your results with you, discuss any problems and work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan to get you back to doing what you love (conquer ‘your mountain’).

During an adjustment the doctor uses their hands to apply a high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust to areas where joints are restricted or painful. This means that the thrust is fast and shallow allowing the doctor to safely take joints through their normal range of motion.

If you are uncomfortable with a traditional manual adjustment, our chiropractors have many other tools to help deliver the same results you are seeking. Examples of alternatives include; joint mobilizations (gently moving the joint(s) through smaller ranges of motion), activator (a tool designed to apply a gentle impulse to restricted joints), and Mulligan techniques (joint mobilization with movement).

Is it safe to get adjusted?

The simple answer is yes, adjustments are an extremely safe method of treatment. However as with any health care intervention, there are risks involved in chiropractic treatment. These risks are extremely rare and our chiropractors are trained to thoroughly examine the area(s) of concern to determine whether or not an adjustment is a safe treatment option for you. Chiropractors extensive training not only teaches them to adjust in ways that are safe, comfortable, and effective, but also to identify any possible contraindications or possible risk factors. We will always discuss benefits, risks, and alternatives prior to providing any treatment, ensuring you are well informed prior to agreeing to treatment.


Chiropractic adjustments are a helpful and safe alternative to conventional medical treatment (i.e. surgery, injections, or pain medications) for people with back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors are specialists in identifying the cause of these conditions, adjusting the spine and extremities to restore proper alignment and function, and offering advice on how patients can manage their symptoms when not in the clinic. The goal is to help patients achieve a more active lifestyle and manage pain and stiffness without relying on medications or other therapies. Our ultimate goal is to help you conquer your mountain, and adjustments are one of the many tools our therapists can use to help you get there!

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