Many people wonder what makes chiropractic different from physical therapy. The answer is the spinal adjustment. The chiropractic adjustment is very unique. To understand the difference between a chiropractic adjustment and physical therapy, one needs to understand the stages of range of motion of a joint. For example, as a person voluntarily rotates her head to the right, she will come to a point where her muscles will no longer move her head. At this point in time, she has reached the end of her active range of motion: that range where muscles move the joint.
With assistance from the doctor, a patient’s head can be moved to another point of resistance, a point labeled the elastic barrier of the ligament. At this point, the doctor will encounter resistance. Movement beyond this point enters into the paraphysiological space. This is usually accompanied by a “pop” of the joint. This popping sound is like popping a knuckle. The sound is actually gas being released from the joint capsule. It is harmless. After an adjustment, the joint will have its greatest range of motion. With greater range of motion comes healing.
Another benefit of a chiropractic adjustment is relaxation of the muscles and increased blood flow to the associated area. By moving the joint through the paraphysiological space, the associated muscle is stretched to the point of relaxation. This will help reduce muscle spasms.
Physical Therapy does not move the joint into the paraphysiological space and therefore will not provide the greatest range of motion for the joint.
After any kind of trauma to the spine, there is usually muscle spasming and a decrease in joint flexibility. In other words, your muscles become very tight and you can’t move as well. A chiropractic adjustment is the fastest and most effective way to restore normal joint motion.