Chiropractic care — palpation exam to diagnose spine conditions


Though most people might not recognize the term “palpation”, most medical exams include this method of examination. A palpation is an examination technique where a physician will use his/her hands to feel the anatomy of the spine and identify any abnormalities in the spinal structure. Typically, this examination is performed by a chiropractor before any spinal adjustments are performed.

The purpose of the spinal palpation is to identify any misalignment in the spine and the possible cause of this condition before administering any spinal manipulation. This will also help determine the site of the MRI if needed and whether or not a neurological exam is needed before the adjustment.

Chiropractors will use the information gathered in the palpation exam to decide where to make the spinal adjustments and the type of adjustment to perform. Generally, there are two forms of chiropractic adjustments: spinal manipulation and spinal decompression.

Spinal manipulation or spinal decompression

The two main types of chiropractic treatment for neck or back pain are spinal manipulation and spinal decompression. The type of treatment used depends on the spine condition and the related symptoms. Additionally, the chiropractor should perform a neurological test before any manipulations to determine the safety of the treatment.

Spinal manipulation is a very precise, quick adjustment to the spine. The chiropractor will identify the area of the spine that is out of alignment and will realign the spine by pushing on precise areas of the back or neck. Some manipulations involve twisting the back or neck to move everything back into the proper place. Generally, spinal manipulations are quick and painless. They are performed on spine conditions that cause a component of the spine to move out of place, such as spondylolisthesis or bone spurs.

Spinal decompression is used to treat spine conditions that occur when the vertebrae of the spine become compressed. Most people experience some sort of compression as they age and gain weight. As the vertebrae are compressed down, the discs and joints between the vertebrae tend to deteriorate and flatten, causing spine conditions such as bulging or herniated discs. Spinal decompression stretches the spine to relieve pressure on the vertebrae and help to move the discs and joints back into place.

Alternative treatments for neck or back pain

If you have sought chiropractic treatment for chronic neck or back pain, and you have not found any lasting relief from your symptoms, you may want to consider seeking alternative methods of treatment. There are several conservative and surgical treatment options available for spine conditions. Contact our care team to learn more about the treatment options available to you.