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Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation is based on the theory that back pain is caused by problems with the muscles and other tissues in the spine and trunk region.

Different practitioners use different types of manipulation, ranging from massage and slow pressing or twisting to rapid movement or forceful pressure on the head, shoulders, back, or hips.

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If you have tight muscles or muscles that spasm, your practitioner may first use heat, ultrasound, or electrical current to relax your muscles before manipulating the spine.

One visit is usually enough

People who benefit from spinal manipulation usually notice improvement after one visit. Additional visits aren't usually needed. At most, 2 to 3 weeks of this type of treatment is considered to be enough to treat sudden low back pain.

Spinal manipulation helps relieve short-term low back pain for many people. It doesn't work for everyone. Most chiropractors, physical therapists, and others who do this type of treatment will work with your medical doctor to make sure you are getting the right treatment.

Although some practitioners encourage long-term spinal manipulation for "maintenance" or "preventive" reasons, this practice has no proven value.

Practitioners who can do manipulation

Chiropractors are not your only choice for providing spinal manual treatment. Other practitioners who can do this include:

  • Osteopaths.
  • Physical therapists.
  • Physiatrists.

Health insurance coverage varies for this type of treatment, so it's wise to check, before starting treatment, to find out whether your practitioner of choice is covered.

Related Information

  • Low Back Pain
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised March 1, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 01, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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