A chiropractor is a type of health care provider that focuses on diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders. They work by manually adjusting or manipulating the spine and other extremities using hands-on and/or equipment.

Most people seek out chiropractors if they are having neck pain, experience challenges with mobility, lower back pain, disc injuries, sciatica, disc bulges or herniation, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, Plantar Fascia, shoulder, and hip problems.

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Chiropractic Work

Chiropractors use many different types of therapies besides spinal manipulation (spinal adjustment) to treat neck and back pain. Like other types of spine specialists, doctors of chiropractic (DC) perform a thorough physical and neurological evaluation of the patient to diagnose the cause of spine-related pain. Diagnosis of the spinal disorder is essential to the patient’s chiropractic treatment plan. Common treatments chiropractors recommend include therapeutic exercise and stretching, spinal traction, manual soft tissue therapy, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, diet and nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modification.


To use flexion distraction, there is a special table that allows the chiropractor to manipulate the position of the patient’s spine. Along with the motion of the table, the chiropractor will use manual techniques to remove pressure from the disc.

Extremity Manipulation:

Extremity manipulation can be used on all other joints outside of the spine. It is beneficial to restore the mobility of the extremity joints thus creating less stress on the spinal column.

Gonstead Chiropractic Technique:

This method was developed in 1923 and since been used to treat a variety of conditions. This is the most recognizable form of manipulation. It can address misalignment and fixations in all parts of the spine and uses different levels of pressure.

Muscle Stimulation:

This type of therapy uses light electrical pulses that are transmitted to specific areas of the body through electrodes placed on the skin. There are many different types of electrical stimulation. Used for pain relief, to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and muscle atrophy. Some forms of electrical stimulation have combination effects.


Therapeutic ultrasound is a form of deep heat therapy created by sound waves. When applied to soft tissues and joints, the sound waves are a form of micro-massage that helps to reduce swelling, increase blood flow, and decrease pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms.

Spinal Manipulation:

Spinal manipulation is the overall process of spinal adjustments and involves ‘retraining’ the spine and surrounding muscles to adapt to a healthier state of functionality.

Thompson Drop Chiropractic Technique:

This technique is a method of adjustment that involves analyzing the length of the legs and how this correlates to the pelvis and spine. This technique uses a ‘drop table’ to make an adjustment, often using multiple thrusts. A gentle thrust is applied to a joint, which in turn, sets the drop piece into motion and targets the specific joint or tissue. This technique is used for a variety of reasons and is a great technique to achieve a deep adjustment while using a line of correction that is gentle on the joints and discs.


This technique uses a hand-held instrument to correct any spinal misalignment. It also involves analyzing the legs and how this affects the hips and the rest of the spine. This is a very gentle technique and great for pediatric patients and patients with chronic conditions like arthritis.

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS):

A TENS unit is a small, battery-powered, portable muscle stimulation machine that can be used at home to help control pain. Variable intensities of electric current are used. This treatment is recommended to help patients get through periods of severe (acute) pain.

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Important Links

A 2018 study published in JAMA Network Open states that After six weeks of treatment, those assigned to receive chiropractic care:

reported less pain intensity
experienced less disability and more improvement in function
reported higher satisfaction with their treatment
needed less pain medicine


The mission of the Clinical Compass is to improve patient outcomes by advancing evidence-based care in an effort to transform healthcare through knowledge translation.