Everything You Need to Know About a Full-Body Chiropractic Adjustment

Feb 27, 2022

If you asked almost anybody what a chiropractor does, they would likely say that they address back pain and other problems in the back. It is true that the most common reason people seek chiropractic care is for relief from back pain, but there is much more to the practice. Chiropractors can address illness, injuries throughout the body, and even serve as car accident doctors. In fact, even if you are visiting a chiropractor to address back issues, they will focus on your body as a whole and perform chiropractic adjustments that are holistic in nature. If you have never had an adjustment before, everything you may be wondering is addressed here.

What Is a Full-Body Chiropractic Adjustment?

The main way that chiropractors address concerns is through a procedure called an adjustment, sometimes known as spinal or joint manipulation. They perform these adjustments using their hands and special instruments with the goal of correcting any misalignments in the spine to reduce pain and improve physical function.

During an adjustment, the chiropractor is literally pushing joints back into their correct position. While this may sound simple and look like it is a brute method, adjustments are actually very complex and can only be done by a professional. Each adjustment is unique to the patient and designed around the specific complaints they have presented with.

An adjustment is not as simple as just pushing the joints and the spine back to their proper position. They may need to gradually be moved, and in some cases, the chiropractor will be fighting the body’s natural tendencies. If your spine and joints were misaligned for a long period of time, they might try to return to that position as your discs have gotten used to it. The chiropractor will slowly be able to teach your body how to return to proper alignment, but it can take time.

The majority of adjustments focus on your spine, as it controls much of your body’s function and is where misalignments are most common. However, a full-body adjustment can involve other parts of the body, even those that do not seem to be causing problems at the time.

Adjustments and the Body

It is helpful to understand exactly how the spine works in order to see why adjustments are so effective and how they can relate to the entire body.

The human body is made up of a number of systems – skeletal, muscular, nervous, digestive, etc. – that work together to keep us alive and healthy. While these are each their own entity, the systems of the body are all interconnected, and the main point of connection begins with the spine and the central nervous system.

The central nervous system is composed of the spinal cord and the brain. The spinal cord begins in the brain and runs through the spine, where the peripheral nervous system then branches out to your entire body through a series of nerves. These nerves branch out from different joints in the spine and communicate with the body, allowing you to feel sensations and practice motor skills. If any of these joints are impacted through a misalignment, it can lead to pain, weakness, and other symptoms in the part of the body associated with that nerve.

Because of these nerves, even small issues in the spine can have a major impact on the entire body. One example is the common condition sciatica– a pinching of the sciatic nerve, which sits in the lower spine. But rather than feeling pain at the site of that nerve, a person suffering from sciatica will feel pain radiating through their hips, buttocks, leg, and feet.

Adjustments focus on the joints in the spine, but by addressing these problems, the impact can be felt throughout the body as the nervous system responds.

Benefits of Full-Body Adjustments

As a whole, chiropractic care has been proven to be beneficial for a range of conditions and symptoms. While this care can involve other therapies, adjustments will always be a critical part of the practice. The benefits of getting a full-body adjustment are nearly endless, but below are some of the most common reasons people choose this treatment.

Natural and Non-Invasive

Many people who suffer from chronic pain, injuries, and other spine-related problems turn to medication as a way to manage their symptoms. While medication can be helpful, it does not address their pain and can often lead to worse symptoms over time. In some cases, people may even become dependent on opioid pain relievers because of their condition.

Chiropractic care is entirely natural and does not rely on any drugs or invasive procedures. Instead, it focuses on returning the body to its natural state and promoting self-healing.

Addresses the Root Cause

Unlike medication and other procedures, chiropractic care does not seek to simply cover up or reduce symptoms of an issue. The focus is on uncovering the reason for symptoms like pain and addressing the root of that issue so that the problem is no longer present or is controlled.

For example, headaches are a common affliction that most people experience at some point in their lives, but some people suffer from them as a chronic condition. The easiest thing to do in these cases may be to use pain medication to suppress the headache and allow a patient to get on with their daily lives. However, just because they are feeling no pain does not mean the problem is no longer present. Chiropractic care would look for misalignments in the spine that are impacting nerves and seek to remove those misalignments, which can stop headaches from occurring in the first place.

Quality of Life

In addition to addressing specific problems, chiropractic care can be a great way to manage overall health. An aligned spine can promote better immune responses, increased blood flow, improved digestion, and a number of other functions in the body that need to run smoothly. Those who undergo regular chiropractic adjustments can enjoy a range of health benefits before any problems occur.

Preventative Measure

While most people will visit a chiropractor only after they are experiencing pain, chiropractic care can actually prevent you from developing certain conditions or experiencing an injury. When the spine is aligned properly, the body is better able to move and make use of the full range of motion, making you less likely to cause damage during a normal movement. Regular adjustments can also help you to strengthen muscles and improve joint use so that the body remains strong.

Are Full-Body Adjustments Dangerous?

When performed by a licensed chiropractor, full-body adjustments do not have any serious risks. It is common for people to feel sore or tired immediately following an adjustment or for symptoms to slightly worsen before they improve.

In rare cases, an adjustment can cause complications such as a herniated disc, a pinched nerve in the lower spine, or a stroke. This is most likely when an unlicensed person is performing the treatment. An adjustment should never be attempted by anyone who is not a professional chiropractor.

What to Expect During a Full-Body Adjustment

If it is your first visit to a chiropractor, they will not immediately begin adjusting you during your appointment. First, you will meet with the doctor to review your symptoms and health history and discuss any concerns you might have. They may do a physical examination of your spine to see if there is anything they can identify as a concern. In some cases, you may also be asked to undergo diagnostic scans like an x-ray or an MRI to better see what is happening in your body.

Once they have collected this information, the chiropractor will work to develop a personalized plan for you moving forward. This is usually a series of adjustments with certain goals in mind, though they may suggest including other treatments like massage or physical therapy as well.

Whether it is at your initial appointment or a subsequent one, your first adjustment should be fast and painless. Most people do not report any discomfort, or very minor discomfort, during an adjustment.

You will be asked to lie on a special table, usually face down. These tables are designed for adjustments and have sections that can move up or down as the chiropractor performs manipulation. You will feel their hands on your body’s pressure points, placing pressure and movement in order to adjust your spine. Depending on their techniques, you may be asked to move to a certain position, take deep breaths, or turn to lie on your back. Some chiropractors will also use small metal instruments on your pressure points. They should walk you through what they are about to do so you are never startled by an action.

The whole process generally only takes a few minutes, and you will be able to leave right after it is complete. Soreness may set in over the next day and resolve quickly, but you should not have any lingering effects.

How Many Adjustments Do I Need?

Many people worry that once they begin going to the chiropractor, they will have to come back forever and continue being adjusted. While many people choose to use chiropractic care as an ongoing preventative health measure, this is not a necessary element of care. However, it is true that a single adjustment will usually not be enough to solve any issues.

It is common to feel immediate relief after a full-body adjustment, but it is unlikely that any serious misalignments were fixed at that time. Minor injuries may require a few adjustments over the course of some weeks, while more serious or chronic issues could take months of work to see sustained improvement.

In addition to these adjustments, chiropractors will often work with you to improve your behavior at home in order to encourage healing. Learning how to improve your posture, incorporating stretches, and making dietary changes can all be used to speed up the process of healing and reduce the number of adjustments you need in the long term.

Who Should Get a Full-Body Adjustment?

Almost anybody can benefit from a full-body adjustment as a way to manage overall health and prevent future injuries. However, people with certain symptoms are the most likely to benefit. Some examples of these symptoms include:

Athletes also commonly rely on chiropractic care to keep their bodies performing at peak condition. Because it is a natural treatment, people of any age can benefit from chiropractic care, from newborns to the elderly.

Some conditions that may prevent you from having a full-body adjustment include severe osteoporosis, excessive spinal movement, or increased risk of stroke.

Chiropractic Care for the Whole Body

While adjustments are the cornerstone of chiropractic care, this is not all a chiropractor can do to help ease pain and improve health. A full-body adjustment will be designed to positively impact the whole body, but it may be paired with other treatments that a chiropractor is licensed to perform, such as:

  • Soft tissue therapy is designed to relax tight muscles, relieve spasms, and release tension.
  • Joint bracing and taping can support sprained joints and muscles as they heal.
  • Exercises and stretches can help maintain mobility and range of motion.

Depending on the injury or condition, a chiropractor may also work with other medical professionals. They can refer to physical therapists for more involved exercise routines or pain management specialists when necessary. If less conservative intervention is needed, they may also refer patients to orthopedic doctors and neurologists.

At AICA Marietta, our team includes all of these specialists and more in one practice, allowing them to work together to treat your condition holistically. Our chiropractors are experts in full-body adjustments and have access to other experts as needed in order to ensure you have high-quality and continuous care.


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