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Understanding the Different Types of Spinal Manipulation Techniques

As chiropractors, spinal manipulation is our bread and butter, a trusted method of treatment that we employ to help our patients on their road to health and wellness. We understand, however, that this term might seem unfamiliar or even intimidating. But we’re here to assure you: there’s nothing to fear. Let’s shed some light on the different types of spinal manipulation techniques and their numerous benefits.

1. High-Velocity Low-Amplitude (HVLA) Technique

One of the most common techniques used in our practice, and probably the one most people think of when they hear ‘chiropractic adjustment,’ is the High-Velocity Low-Amplitude (HVLA) Technique. As the name suggests, this technique involves a swift, controlled movement at a specific joint, with a limited range. The purpose of HVLA is to restore joint movement and alignment, relieve muscle tension, and stimulate the nervous system.


This technique is highly effective for relieving acute back pain, neck pain, and headaches, amongst other conditions. It can also improve flexibility, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the flow of nutrients to the discs in your spine.

2. Flexion-Distraction Technique

Also known as Cox or decompression manipulation, this technique is gentler than HVLA. It involves a slow pumping action on the disc instead of direct force. The chiropractor uses a specially designed table that flexes and distracts the spine in an automated and gentle rhythmic motion.


Ideal for patients with lower back pain and sciatica, this technique helps reduce pressure on spinal nerves from a disc bulge or herniation. It can also improve mobility and posture, offering relief for those with conditions like arthritis and scoliosis.

3. Drop Table Technique

This technique makes use of a unique drop-piece mechanism in our chiropractic tables. With the patient positioned on the table, the chiropractor applies a quick thrust at the same time the table drops. The dropping of the table allows for a lighter adjustment without the twisting positions that can accompany other techniques.


The Drop Table Technique can help restore the mechanics of the spine, reduce disc bulging, improve nerve function, and relieve pain from conditions like sciatica, disc herniation, or injuries resulting from accidents.

4. Gonstead Adjustment

Named after its creator, Dr. Clarence Gonstead, this method is a hands-on technique where the chiropractor identifies specific problem areas in your spine, using a variety of observational tools. Once the problematic area is identified, a precise, high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustment is made.


This highly effective and specific method can bring about significant improvements in pain, inflammation, and mobility, especially for patients with chronic conditions. The Gonstead Adjustment is a comprehensive method to realign the entire spinal column and restore optimal health.

5. Activator Method

This technique uses a hand-held, spring-loaded instrument called an activator. The device delivers a consistent, low-force impulse to the spine. The Activator Method is known for its speed; the instrument is so quick that the body’s muscles are less likely to tense and resist the treatment.


The Activator Method is a great choice for those with acute pain, older patients, or individuals with specific conditions like osteoporosis. It’s useful for treating a variety of conditions, including neck and back pain, migraines, and joint issues.

Seminole Chiropractic Center: Catering to Your Specific Needs

As you can see, chiropractic care isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We tailor our approach based on your individual needs, using the technique (or combination of techniques) that suits you best. The beauty of spinal manipulation techniques lie in their versatility and efficacy, offering a non-invasive, drug-free approach to pain relief and improved wellness.

So if you’re dealing with persistent headaches, back pain, or a nagging injury, why not consider a visit to our office? We’re here to help you understand your options and offer a path toward a healthier you. Remember, chiropractic care isn’t just about managing pain – it’s about nurturing a lifestyle of comprehensive wellness.