MRI Scans Reveal Effectiveness of Chiropractic Adjustments

Decades of research have demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic care for back pain, and we see the success of chiropractic every day in our Salem clinic. Still, the biological mechanisms behind chiropractic adjustments are still unclear, and scientists are continuing to uncover exactly why spinal adjustments lead to pain relief.

Often people with low-back pain have limited mobility in the lumbar spine due to degenerative changes and fibrous adhesions in and between the joints of the spine. One hypothesis suggests that spinal manipulation (also called chiropractic adjustments) break up these fibrous adhesions. This enables the joints to move fluidly, and in turn reduces back pain.

Researches from the National University of Health Sciences sought to test this theory by examining spinal gapping in 112 patients with lower back pain. They examined spinal joint gapping, or the space between the joints, immediately after spinal manipulation therapy (SMT).

At two different sessions, patients were randomly provided with one of four treatments: SMT, side posture positioning (SPP); SPP control; or SMT control. After each treatment the patient received an MRI scan that allowed doctors to measure changes in joint gapping in the lumbar spine. Between these two tests, the patients were treated with chiropractic care.

All the patients improved within two weeks of chiropractic care, however, those that received spinal manipulation immediately before the MRI demonstrated the most significant changes in spinal joint gapping. Patients who received a combination of SMT and SPP had the best improvements in immediate pain relief after treatment. The authors of study believe that lumbar side-posture positioning enhanced the therapeutic benefits of chiropractic adjustments.

These results help to explain why chiropractic adjustments are so effective for relieving pain in our Salem patients. Whether you're suffering from a herniated disc and sciatica or are recovering an auto injury, your Salem chiropractor, Dr. Geary Michels, can get to the root of your back pain for lasting relief.


Cramer GD, et al. Magnetic resonance imaging zygaphosphyseal joint space changes (gapping) in low back pain patients following spinal manipulation and side-posture positioning: a randomized controlled mechanisms trial with blinding. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013; pii: S0161-4754(13)00055-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.04.003. [Epub ahead of print].

  1. dr Robertson

    Dr. Julia Robertson, DC is a Chiropractic Physician who worked with Michels Spinal Rehab and Associates and who is now the proud owner of Robertson Spinal Rehab & Associates. She provides personal one on one services specializing in spinal manipulation, physiotherapy, nutritional counseling in addition to developing personal rehab programs.