A Comprehensive Guide

Manual adjustments are a fundamental aspect of chiropractic care, involving the use of the chiropractor's hands to adjust the spine and other joints in order to improve alignment and restore proper nerve function. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits and different manual chiropractic techniques, including Diversified, Gonstead, and Thompson techniques.


Introduction to Manual Adjustments

Manual adjustments have been at the core of chiropractic care since its inception in the late 19th century. They involve the application of controlled force to a specific joint, with the aim of improving spine and joint mobility and restoring nervous system function. Manual adjustments can be used in the management of a variety of conditions, including back and neck pain, headaches, and joint issues in the extremities.

When performed by a trained and experienced chiropractor, manual adjustments are safe and effective for patients of all ages. While manual adjustments are just one component of a comprehensive chiropractic treatment plan, they often serve as the foundation for other complementary techniques and therapies.

Benefits of Manual Adjustments

Manual adjustments offer numerous benefits to patients, including:

  • Improved range of motion and flexibility
  • Enhanced muscle strength and function
  • Correction of misalignments and subluxations
  • Improved posture and spinal alignment
  • Increased blood flow and nutrient delivery to tissues
  • Reduced pain and discomfort
  • Support for the body's natural healing processes

By addressing the root cause of pain and dysfunction, manual adjustments can help to facilitate long-term improvements in health and wellbeing.


Types of Manual Adjustments

There are several different types of manual adjustments, each with its own unique approach and focus. In this guide, we will explore three of the most widely practised techniques: Diversified, Gonstead, and Thompson.

What to Expect During a Manual Adjustment

During a manual adjustment, the chiropractor will first perform a thorough assessment of the patient's spine and musculoskeletal system, which may include a physical examination, postural analysis, and range of motion testing. The chiropractor will then identify any areas of dysfunction, or subluxation, and develop a tailored treatment plan that addresses the patient's unique needs.

During the adjustment itself, the chiropractor will apply controlled force to the affected joint, using their hands or a specialised tool to deliver a high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust. Patients may hear a popping or cracking sound during the adjustment, which is the result of gas bubbles being released from the joint. This is a normal part of the process and is generally not painful.


Following the adjustment, the chiropractor may provide additional therapies or exercises to support the patient's recovery and help to maintain the improvements achieved through manual adjustments. These may include soft tissue work, stretching, strengthening exercises, nutritional supplementation and lifestyle advice.


Are Manual Adjustments Safe?

Manual adjustments are considered safe and effective when performed by a qualified and experienced chiropractor. As with any healthcare intervention, there is always some level of risk associated with manual adjustments. However, the risk of serious complications is extremely low, particularly when compared to more invasive treatments such as surgery or prescription medications.

It is important for patients to discuss any concerns or medical conditions with their chiropractor before receiving manual adjustments, as some conditions may require a modified approach or alternative treatment methods. Additionally, patients should always follow the advice and recommendations of their healthcare provider to ensure the best possible outcomes from their chiropractic care.


Manual adjustments are a foundational component of chiropractic care, offering a safe and effective means of addressing joint dysfunction and promoting overall health and wellbeing. By utilising techniques such as the Diversified, Gonstead, and Thompson methods, chiropractors are able to tailor their approach to each patient's unique needs and support their journey towards improved function and pain relief.

As with any healthcare intervention, it is essential for patients to work with a qualified and experienced chiropractor who can develop a comprehensive and individualised treatment plan. By taking an active role in their own care and following the guidance of their healthcare provider, patients can achieve lasting improvements in their health and quality of life through manual adjustments and other chiropractic therapies.


Find the right chiropractor for you

The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association has a registry of trusted practitioners located across the country. All members are Government registered health professionals, so you can feel confident that they meet required standards to care for your unique needs.