The chiropractic profession offers countless techniques, philosophies, and patient care models. Among all the variability, the one uniting element is the chiropractic adjustment and/or the chiropractic mobilization.
The goal of a chiropractic adjustment or mobilization is to restore normal motion to joints that are restricted. Several theories exist as to how joints become restricted. Scientific evidence highly supports the theory of a meniscoid entrapment. Joints are lined with slips of cartilage (meniscoids) that can get stuck between two joint surfaces, causing the joint to glide improperly.
Meniscoid entrapments usually occur when a joint is overloaded. Poor posture, weak muscles, scar tissue, trauma, and nerve entrapments all lead to overload. Once a meniscoid becomes entrapped, several problems may result, including:
1. Restricted joint motion
2. Increased joint motion above and below the restricted joint
3. Pain and inflammation
4. Muscle spasm or muscle weakness (inhibition)
6. Joint and disc degeneration (arthritis, disc herniation)
An adjustment usually involves a quick but gentle corrective force across the affected joint to separate the joint surfaces. Joint mobilization can achieve similar results, but instead of a quick force, a slow oscillating movement is used. The goal of both is to move the joint in a way that releases the meniscoid entrapment.
The goal of treatment is to fix a problem permanently, so not only does joint motion need to be addressed, but contributing scar tissue, weakness, instability, and perpetuating factors must be corrected as well.