Chiropractic techniques focus on diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders, primarily through manual spinal adjustments, manipulation, or both.

Chiropractic treatment may aim to reduce a person’s pain and improve functionality. Techniques may involve manipulation, which uses rapid movement at the end of a joint’s range of motion, or mobilization, which works within a joint’s range of motion.

A chiropractor may also recommend other treatment options, such as regular exercise, to improve the underlying problem.

There are many different chiropractic techniques. This article focuses on seven techniques, explaining their application and potential aims.

A chiropractor performing spinal manipulation on another person's neck.-2Share on Pinterest
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This is the most common technique. It involves precise, high velocity, low amplitude thrusts to restore proper spine alignment and movement.

People may notice a “popping” sound as the chiropractor adjusts the joints.

The chiropractor applies this technique to various joints throughout the body, focusing on spinal adjustments. A chiropractor may put a person in various positions to apply this technique.

A chiropractor may use this technique to correct joint dysfunction, enhance mobility, and alleviate pain, making it a versatile technique for a broad range of conditions.

Spinal mobilization uses gentler, more gradual techniques than the diversified method. It involves manual, controlled movement of the joints and muscles to increase the range of motion.

Mobilization is a technique that works within a joint’s range of motion and is easy for a patient to stop.

In does not involve manipulation, which uses rapid movement at the end of a joint’s range of motion. Joint manipulation may be harder for a patient to control or stop.

This technique may be suitable for people with sensitive joints, such as some older adults or those with severe pain conditions.

Spinal mobilization may share similar aims to other techniques while being less forceful in its method than traditional manipulation.

This technique involves a handheld instrument called the Activator Adjusting Instrument (AAI). The instrument provides a high speed, low amplitude adjustment to the spine or other body parts.

This is another potentially gentler technique that may suit older adults.

Older research suggests that chiropractic techniques involving an AAI may help to reduce spinal pain. However, more research is necessary to determine the benefits of this technique.

This technique aims to realign the spine. Similarly to the diversified technique, it involves high velocity, low amplitude thrusts that may cause a “popping” sound.

Chiropractors may use their fingers or imaging tools to pinpoint problem areas. They may deliver this adjustment with the person seated or lying on their side.

This non-thrusting technique employs a special table to stretch and decompress the spine, combining manual therapy with flexion-distraction movements.

Chiropractors may use this technique to address problems such as back pain, which may be due to conditions such as herniated disks.

Aims may include:

  • increase spinal motion
  • improve disk health
  • relieve pressure on spinal nerves without aggressive manipulation

This technique involves a specialized adjustment table with a dropping mechanism. The chiropractor applies a quick thrust while a section of the table drops slightly.

A small 2019 study suggested the drop technique may be effective at improving intervertebral disk height and straight leg raising angle for people with herniated disks.

This technique typically involves a suspension device or traction table to relieve pressure on the spine through controlled, gentle stretching.

Chiropractors may use this technique to target conditions related to disk degeneration, such as herniated or bulging disks, or for chronic back or neck pain.

A 2023 review highlights that there are over 130 different chiropractic techniques.

The benefits, effectiveness, and risks associated with chiropractic techniques can vary depending on several factors, including the person’s specific condition, age, overall health, and the skill and experience of the chiropractor.

There is no one chiropractic technique that is best universally. However, according to the 2023 review, the diversified technique is the most common.

Since chiropractic techniques aim to improve joint function and motion, the best technique may be the one that best succeeds for the individual. Chiropractors will tailor their treatment to meet a person’s needs and circumstances.

Learn about the benefits of chiropractic treatments.


The effectiveness of each chiropractic technique may depend on the underlying issue they aim to treat and the overall health of the person seeking treatment.

A 2021 review suggests that spinal manipulation therapies may be as effective as other treatments, including physical therapy, when treating chronic, nonspecific spinal pain.

However, further research is necessary to validate this treatment and understand who may benefit the most from spine manipulation techniques.


A 2017 review highlights that severe risks are rare, but common side effects may include:

People may also experience fatigue, dizziness, or other symptoms. The review suggests that certain underlying conditions may increase the risk of adverse events.

Some techniques may also carry higher risks for people with certain conditions. For example, techniques involving high velocity, low amplitude adjustments might not be suitable for people with severe osteoporosis or certain types of arthritis.

Seeing a chiropractor may benefit some people, especially those with musculoskeletal issues. However, knowing if it is the right choice requires understanding what chiropractic care offers and recognizing a person’s specific health needs.

Signs that a person might benefit from chiropractic care include:

People can speak with a healthcare professional if they experience any of these symptoms to discuss whether chiropractic treatment might be suitable for them.

A doctor may suggest chiropractic manipulations alongside other treatment options.

Each chiropractic technique offers a unique approach to treating musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders, tailored to a person’s needs and conditions.

The diversified technique is the most common. However, the best technique for each individual may depend on the underlying cause of treatment and other factors.

People can speak with a healthcare professional to understand what type of chiropractic technique may be most beneficial to them.