News & Updates

Can Physical Therapists Adjust The Spine?

In most cases, physical therapists do not perform spinal adjustments in the same way chiropractors or osteopaths do. Spinal adjustments, also known as spinal manipulations, involve the application of a high-velocity, low-amplitude force to a specific joint in the spine to restore normal joint function, reduce pain, and improve range of motion.

While physical therapists are highly trained in assessing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, they typically use a variety of manual therapy techniques that differ from spinal adjustments.

These techniques may include…

  1. Joint Mobilization – Physical therapists perform controlled movements of the affected joints within their physiological range of motion to improve joint function, reduce stiffness, and alleviate pain.
  2. Soft Tissue Mobilization – Manual techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) are used to address muscle tightness, trigger points, and adhesions in the soft tissues surrounding the spine.
  3. Manual Traction – Traction techniques involve applying gentle pulling forces to the spine to decompress the vertebrae and alleviate pressure on the spinal discs and nerves.
  4. Therapeutic Exercise – Physical therapists prescribe specific exercises to improve spinal stability, strengthen supporting muscles, and promote proper alignment and posture.
  5. Postural Education and Correction – Physical therapists provide guidance on ergonomic principles, body mechanics, and lifestyle modifications to help patients maintain optimal spinal alignment and prevent further injury.

While physical therapists do not typically perform spinal adjustments, they collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals, including chiropractors and physicians, to ensure comprehensive care for patients with spinal conditions. In some cases, physical therapists may refer patients to chiropractors or other specialists for spinal adjustments if deemed appropriate based on the individual’s condition and treatment goals.

It’s important for individuals seeking treatment for spinal issues to consult with a healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist or chiropractor, to determine the most appropriate and effective interventions based on their specific needs and preferences.