A chiropractic adjustment is a clinical procedure. Chiropractic Adjustments take years to learn and master and should only be applied by a doctor of chiropractic. The procedure is very safe. However, “self-adjusting” is not really an adjustment. The joint would only be mobilizing further into a misaligned position.
Because of the cavitation (popping sound) that is often, not always, accompanied by an adjustment people assume that this popping sound is synonymous with an adjustment. This is not true. It is not the same. This is why there is a huge misconception that performing a chiropractic adjustment by yourself is even possible. It’s like saying that removing a baby tooth is that same thing as orthodontic surgery. Sure you’re both taking out teeth but that doesn’t make them the same thing. This isn’t really the best metaphor but there really isn’t any accurate metaphor in healthcare because there is no other procedure in medicine that people attempt to perform on themselves to feel better that is as safe as an adjustment even when done incorrectly.
You may be making a popping sound in your joints that feel better for a bit but that does not make it the same. A great deal of education goes into diagnosing and preparing a treatment plan to correct structural shifts in a spine. Ultimately the popping sound (recently seen on motion MRI) is only there because of the creation of a small vacuum of air in an otherwise fluid-filled joint because of the motion. The key to making that motion a chiropractic adjustment is having the proper direction of force. Even for a chiropractor, this is basically impossible to perform on yourself.
Almost anybody can create this vacuum that results in a popping sound but that does not make them a chiropractor. Lots of people can “self-medicate” with drugs, that doesn’t mean that they should or that they are a medical doctor.
The bottom line is that while mobilizing joints and causing a cavitation can provide some short-term relief in that joint, you’re rolling the dice that the joint is not being mobilized further out of its proper alignment. This is typically the case with “self-adjusting” because the joint is often out of place because of a weakness allowing the joint to stay misaligned, which is why it needs a proper chiropractic adjustment to realign the shift not just mobilize it to make a popping sound.
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