What do spinal adjustments feel like?
The most familiar type of spinal manipulation is the hands-on approach: You lie on a table while the chiropractor uses his or her hands or a device to apply pressure to an area of your spine. Some people call this "cracking" your back because of the popping sound that is sometimes made. But nothing is actually "cracking." The sound happens when the tissues of the spinal joint in question are stretched.
Spinal manipulation normally doesn't hurt. If you're already in pain because of your back, it may hurt to move. But manipulation is aimed at making you feel better.
Some chiropractors use a drop table for manipulations. Parts of the table drop slightly when the chiropractor presses down on a patient's back. The table is noisy, but this method is actually very gentle.
Some chiropractors use a hand-held device called an activator to do spinal manipulations. This is also very gentle.
How to choose a chiropractor
Whenever you are looking for a health care provider, ask friends about who they do and don't like, and why. Check the background and education of providers you're interested in. It is sometimes helpful to have a visit to make sure you are comfortable with a provider's practice style.
Make your family doctor aware of your other providers and the treatments you are getting.