Chiropractic adjustments (or manipulation as it is sometimes referred to) are the essence of chiropratic treatment. The objective of the adjustment is to maintain and restore normal vertebral/joint motion. Abnormal motion may have occurred for a number of reasons ranging from normal daily activity to trauma such as a car accident.
When abnormal motion occurs between vertebrae it has both local and overall systemic effects. Locally, it can create pain and over time lead to more rapid, extensive, and painful degenerative changes. Systemically, this lack of motion (called a sublulxation) can create nerve interference, compromising the communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the periphery (joints, muslces), and between the CNS and the internal organs, predisposing them to problems.
An adjustment, or manipulation, is a controlled and gentle manual pressure applied by the chiropractor to the joints, to restore normal vertebral/joint motion. It is analagous to cracking your knuckles, more about positioning the joint than applying force; ie: getting the joint to the end of its range of motion and introducing a minimal force. As with cracking knuckles, this happens with a quick movement that be accompanied by an audible pop, and rarely causes any discomfort. In fact, almost everyone reports increased movement with decreased pain after getting adjusted.
Overall, the adjustments restore normal joint motion which help decrease pain, slow down the degenerative process and restore normal communication between the brain and the periphery and internal organs to keep the body functioning at its highest level.
Because subluxations can be caused by daily activities, posture and minor injuries, it is a recommended to get adjusted at intervals (once or twice a month), even if you feel ok, to help maintain maximal spinal function and overall health.