When most people think of chiropractic treatments they envision the infamous cracking sound associated with direct thrust technique. This is the most commonly used treatment technique among chiropractors.

This hands-on method is performed while you are sitting up or lying down and is highly effective in relieving long-term back pain and realigning the spine.

Diversified Technique

The diversified technique is a family of strong spinal manipulations (adjustments) that are used by chiropractors to realign spine and extremity joints. It’s a hands-on treatment that involves precise, fast thrusting with the hand to correct joint dysfunction and misalignment. It is the most common type of adjustment and the one most commonly performed by chiropractors.

Generally, when this method is used you will hear an audible “popping” sound. This is a normal and healthy sign that the joint is being manipulated and released from pressure. The popping sound is caused by a decrease in pressure that results in a release of gas trapped inside the joint. It is like the joint is sighing in relief after years of holding tension.

This is an effective and safe technique for most patients. It is often used to relieve back pain, neck pain, and a variety of other conditions. The diversified technique also can help to decompress the spine, which is very helpful for people who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or in their car, and it helps restore the natural alignment of the spine.

In fact, according to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, diversified technique is utilized on over 95 percent of all chiropractic visits. It is a classic chiropractic method that was developed by D.D. Palmer and taught at all major chiropractic colleges. The technique was further refined by Otto Reinert DC and Joe Janse DC, who both wrote acclaimed books on the subject of diversified chiropractic.

There are several variations of diversified technique, including Logan Basic and Meric System. Each of these methods utilizes clinical decision-making as to what specific spinal segments should be manipulated/adjusted.


Flexion-distraction is a gentle chiropractic technique that works to increase spinal movement and decrease the pressure on discs in the spine. It is performed on a specialized table and involves a chiropractor gently stretching the spine. The movement of the table can be rhythmic and a chiropractor will often change the position of the table during flexion-distraction treatment to ensure they are not stretching too hard. This helps to keep the spine healthy and prevents injuries from occurring during the therapy session. Only a licensed chiropractor Edmonton area should be performing this on you.

The flexion-distraction technique is used to treat many different back conditions. One of the most common is herniated or bulging discs, which can be painful and limit movement in the spine. This treatment can also relieve back pain caused by sacroiliac syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, and sciatica. It is a non-surgical and pain-free way to reduce these issues and it has been shown to be effective in studies by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.

During a flexion-distraction treatment, patients lie on a specialized table that is equipped with pulleys and weights that allow for the spinal cord to be stretched. The movements of the table help to relax the spine, decrease pressure on the spinal nerves, and reduce muscle spasms. The traction can even help to improve circulation and decrease inflammation in the affected area.

Flexion-distraction can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other chiropractic techniques, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture. This will help to give you the best chance of getting relief from your back pain and ensure that your spine heals properly in a short amount of time. If you have any questions about this treatment or would like to see if it is right for your condition, contact our Parma chiropractor today.

Spinal Mobilization

This is a hands-on technique that uses very precise thrusts aimed at restoring proper movement and alignment to your spine. This is one of the most widely used techniques, with about 96% of chiropractors trained in it. The thrusts are performed on the joints of your spine and extremities, such as your knees or wrists.

This method is a bit more gentle than the other chiropractic techniques. Your chiropractor uses a special table to help you move in a way that moves your spine into proper position. This helps reduce pain and tension by releasing muscle tightness in your back or other parts of your body.

A chiropractor might also use a technique called Cox Flexion-distraction to adjust your spine. In this, a chiropractor holds you in a stretch and then quickly presses down on your spine while a section of the table drops in accordance with the location of your spinal adjustment. The table has different sections that can be dropped in a variety of ways to adjust your back or other parts of your body, such as the ankles or arms.

Another technique involves using a small device that applies a low-force impulse. With this, your chiropractor evaluates leg length, performs muscle testing, and then adjusts the spine or other areas of the body using a spring-loaded manual tool called the Activator method.

Unlike spinal manipulation, spinal mobilization doesn’t apply a high-velocity and low-amplitude force to the joint. Instead, it applies a gentle movement of the joint through its range of motion. This can decrease your spinal stiffness, reposition joints that are slightly off center, and free up any adhesions or fibrous tissue in the joint. Chiropractors commonly implement this treatment, but physical therapists and some osteopathic physicians are also licensed to give spinal mobilization treatments.

Drop Technique

The Thompson Drop Table technique was developed in the 1950s by Dr. Clay Thompson and is one of the most commonly used chiropractic methods. This method involves a specialized adjusting table with segmented drops that lower different parts of the patient’s spine quickly. This allows chiropractors to thrust on the spine without having to use as much force, helping to avoid discomfort for patients.

The specialized adjusting table has multiple segments that are raised in the upper back, dorsal area, and pelvic region, depending on what part of the spine needs to be treated. The chiropractor then makes a quick spinal manipulation and as the thrust is made, that specific section of the table will rapidly drop down, mobilizing the joint during the adjustment. The sudden thrust combined with the rapid drop of the adjusting table help to facilitate quicker adjustments, making it an effective tool for treating spinal injuries.

Unlike other spinal manipulation techniques, such as the Diversified or Gondstead methods, this technique does not result in the “cracking” of the spine. It can be a safer and more gentle form of spinal manipulation, especially for older patients or pregnant women.

The first step of the procedure is to do a leg check analysis, where your chiropractor will position your legs and check that they are symmetrical with each other. Uneven leg length can indicate a muscular imbalance that may need to be corrected. During this process, your chiropractor will also evaluate the length of your spine, ordering x-rays if necessary to determine the best type of treatment for you. This treatment is particularly helpful for adjusting the pelvis or sacroiliac joints, and it is one of the only chiropractic techniques that can adjust spondylolisthesis.

Activator Method

Activator Method chiropractors use a spring-loaded device to apply a low-force impulse to vertebrae and other spinal joints. This is a more precise and gentle approach than traditional manual manipulation techniques such as Diversified, but it still requires a degree of skill to be effective. It aims to nudge misaligned spinal joints back into their correct position, thereby releasing pressure on nerves and eliminating strain on spinal muscles.

Doctors who perform Activator adjustments will often start with an evaluation of the patient, reflex testing and sometimes leg length testing to identify specific spinal joint dysfunction. They’ll then tap the Activator instrument on the area of the affected joint, applying some initial pressure followed by a quick impulse that may feel similar to when your doctor tests the reflexes in your knees with a reflex hammer.

The quick impulse from the Activator device can disengage the muscle’s guard and allow the joint to move naturally. This is one of the reasons why many patients prefer this type of adjustment. It also doesn’t require twisting and turning the body or neck which can be a benefit for babies, elderly patients and those who are highly sensitive to pressure.

The Activator technique is widely used and well-researched but not all chiropractic doctors have been trained in its application. Those that have undergone training in the method are known as Activator certified chiropractors. Our Urbandale chiropractor is Activator certified and has extensive experience with this device. He uses it to treat neck pain, back pain and other joint problems. It can be used to treat everything from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders to sports injuries and even chronic migraines.