Cary Orthopaedics physical therapist Chad Moses, PT, Cert. DN/SMT, GTS, CKTP, Dip. Osteopractic, produces our Patient Education Series to inform patients about various physical therapy techniques. In this episode, he discusses spinal manipulation.

What is spinal manipulation?

Spinal manipulation is a manual technique that is performed by a trained physical therapist that involves a controlled thrust to a joint within the spine. It is sometimes known as “cracking your back.” This could be performed anywhere from the cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine or the SI joint. The manipulation itself is a fast and gentle thrust within the very short and safe distance within the physiological range of the joint. This causes a gentle separation at the articular surface, stretching of the articular tissues and depressurization of the joint that results in a cavitation of gaseous substances within the joint. The release of pressure of gasses is what makes the “pop” sound. 

This process releases the body’s natural endorphins and anti-inflammatory agents to help with the healing of the tissues. Spinal manipulation can be a very effective technique for symptom modification. It allows physical therapists to decrease the sensations around the tissues and joints, decrease pain, and ultimately improve the patient’s quality of life. 

Protect Against Back Pain

Myths and misconceptions

  1. Spinal manipulation cannot fix or cure anything. It is a tool used for symptom modification, just like many other techniques physical therapists use.
  2. It cannot improve your overall health or treat systemic conditions. We are not bone-setting or putting joints back into place.
  3. It is impossible to manipulate a single joint. While the therapist’s intent is to manipulate a specific joint, they are often affecting multiple joints above and below the target joint. 
  4. You don’t have to hear a click or a pop for the technique to be effective.

More Myths about Back Pain

Spinal manipulation in Morrisville

Spinal manipulation can be a safe and effective technique if used properly and performed by a trained physical therapist. A comprehensive exam is always performed to see if the patient is a good candidate for spinal manipulation. Patient education and a custom exercise program are also a large part of recovery. For more information about spinal manipulation or to book an appointment to discuss options to help alleviate your pain, please contact us today.