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      Chiropractic Adjustments: Procedure, Benefits & Side Effects

      Chiropractic adjustments are sessions of spinal manipulation administered by a doctor of chiropractic. These adjustments are used for chronic pain relief and treating other medical conditions by correcting spinal misalignments.

      What is a chiropractor? A chiropractor is a highly qualified health professional who has earned his/her Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Chiropractors adjust the patient’s spinal joints in ways that have been scientifically shown to address certain disorders.

      There are several evidence-based health benefits of chiropractic care. A doctor of chiropractic is able to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal pain, migraines,  and sciatica with spinal adjustments.

      Upper cervical chiropractic is a subspecialty of chiropractic care that focuses on the 2 upper vertebrae of the spine: the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2). Upper cervical care is employed for effective treatment of several disorders and injuries.

      Below, you’ll learn the answer to these questions:

      What is a chiropractic adjustment?

      A chiropractic adjustment (also known as a “spinal adjustment”) is a session of spinal corrections performed by a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments may include a number of individual chiropractic techniques, such as the toggle drop, lumbar roll, or table adjustments.

      A typical chiropractic adjustment by a general chiropractor
      A upper cervical chiropractic adjustment by Dr. Ty Carzoli

      How often should you get chiropractic adjustments? For chronic pain that significantly affects your quality of life, you should get a chiropractic adjustment every week or even multiple times each week. 

      For simple maintenance and prevention, you may visit a chiropractor once a month, but this varies greatly depending on your provider.

      Upper Cervical Chiropractic

      Our upper cervical chiropractic treatment plans typically require weekly treatments for 12 weeks at a time. After this, I will recommend an appropriate plan for maintenance adjustments, although I aim to get you back on your feet and out of the office.

      There is no cookie cutter formula to knowing what someone needs. That being said, based on your condition, lifestyle, and state of your spine, I create a custom fit 3-month care plan to get started. 

      It’s very rare I see anyone more than once a week. Most patients can expect to average about 1 visit per week for the first 3 months of care; “The Corrective Care Plan” phase. 

      Following those first three months, I do a comprehensive re-examination where I will:

      Osteopath vs. Chiropractor

      An osteopath is a slightly different profession from a chiropractor. 

      Osteopaths (doctors of osteopathy, or DOs) go through four years of medical school. Very few osteopaths prescribe to the importance of spinal correction for all-body health.

      Chiropractors, on the other hand, go to a chiropractic post-graduate school, not medical school. The chiropractic profession focuses closely on all-body health via spinal adjustments.

      Osteopaths perform osteopathic adjustments, which are very similar to chiropractic manipulations. However, osteopathic adjustments are basically watered-down chiropractic adjustments. Like physical therapists, osteopaths have minimal (elective) training on “manipulations”.

      Ultimately, osteopathy does not use the principles of functional medicine, in which a lifestyle approach is used to promote health. Chiropractic, on the other hand, honors the innate systems of the body to promote health with minimal to no use of drugs or conventional medicine principles.

      Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

      Chiropractic adjustments correct spinal misalignments and spinal motion issues. Left untreated, misalignments and subluxations may cause:

      Health benefits of chiropractic adjustments include:

      1. Improved joint function (including range of motion)
      2. Reduced lower back pain
      3. Reduced neck pain
      4. Headache relief
      5. Migraine relief
      6. Better blood circulation
      7. Improvement of insomnia
      8. Easier breathing, including with certain asthma issues

      These health benefits are backed by peer-reviewed science. A slew of other benefits have been reported by patients and chiropractors but may not be published in scientific journals.

      If you are interested in a chiropractic adjustment, click here to make your appointment at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. We work with our patients to figure out a treatment plan that works for you.

      What to Expect During Chiropractic Treatment

      Before the Adjustment

      Before your adjustment, your chiropractor should discuss your treatment level. He or she will explain what chiropractic adjustment is required in your case.

      You should not expect any pain during a chiropractic visit.

      The first time you visit a chiropractor, the doctor of chiropractic will likely consult with you regarding your overall condition, symptoms, and desired results. This consultation may include:

      You may or may not get a chiropractic adjustment at this initial consultation. At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we take time to thoroughly analyze x-rays before delivering the first adjustment on the second visit. If a patient travels in from out of state, we will make special accommodations for time.

      After your first visit, the chiropractor can examine your x-rays and formulate a personalized treatment plan for you.

      Getting a Chiropractic Adjustment 

      When you return, it’s probably time for your first adjustment.

      Your chiropractor will likely explore your maximum range of motion before beginning the adjustment, stopping immediately if this movement triggers any pain. The chiropractor may thrust his/her hands down onto the targeted area to actually make the adjustment.

      Personally, I do not employ adjustments like this with my patients. It’s a common practice, but I use a very gentle and precise instrument instead. 

      The Laney Torque Specific Cervical Adjusting Instrument is my device of choice (not to be confused with the Torque Release Technique’s “integrator”). Only 65 of these have ever been manufactured, and I have the only one in the entire state of Colorado.

      We use regular x-rays and cutting-edge technology to ensure the most precise, gentle, and effective adjustments possible.

      What happens when you get adjusted by a chiropractor? The chiropractor corrects spinal misalignments, and restores nervous system function. You may hear “popping”, which is normal. It is also normal to lie on a drop table that raises and drops.

      Results You Should Expect

      How long do chiropractic adjustments last? The amount of time a chiropractic adjustment lasts depends heavily on the state of the patient’s spine. The greatest variation between people is in the beginning of treatment.

      Over time, chiropractors should be seeing people less and less often as they hold their adjustments longer and longer. What people do outside the office can have a big impact on the efficacy of their care.

      Chiropractic adjustments can be used for rehabilitation, maintenance, or prevention. 

      How long until I see results from chiropractic care? On average, a patient of chiropractic care sees results within 1 to 4 weeks of spinal adjustment. You may notice small physical changes right away, like increased lung capacity or limb strength.

      Upper Cervical Chiropractic vs. General Chiropractic

      What is the difference between upper cervical and general chiropractic?

      Drop table adjustments are common tools used by general chiropractors. During this adjustment, he or she will raise a part of the table you’re lying down on, then thrust their hands down, causing the raised part of the table to quickly lower. 

      This actually increases the patient’s comfort level, compared to spinal corrections without the use of a table.

      It is important to wear loose-fitting clothing so your clothes don’t get in the way of spinal adjustments. The chiropractor may lift up your leg or gently twist your back, which may be difficult with tight-fitting clothing. Athletic wear is often the clothing of choice.

      It’s also important to wear close-toed shoes for general chiropractic adjustments.

      You may hear a lot of “popping” or “cracking” like when you crack your knuckles. This is thought to be caused by joint cavitation, when gases in your joints’ lubricating fluids are released. It is a  sign your joints are being mobilized.

      Again, I do not adjust patients using drop table or twisting/cracking adjustments. These are common, but do not serve our patients best in their upper cervical chiropractic treatment plans.

      Is it safe to get chiropractic adjustments?

      Yes, it is safe to get chiropractic adjustments from a trained and licensed doctor of chiropractic. 

      Fewer than one in a million chiropractic patients experiences an adverse event during treatment. 

      Those are much better odds than taking anti-inflammatory meds, such as NSAIDs, for pain. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are not even as effective as spinal adjustments at relieving neck pain. NSAIDs certainly don’t correct the cause of your problem. 

      Side effects of chiropractic adjustments are rare. Potential dangers include:

      Who shouldn’t get a chiropractic adjustment? If a patient presents any of the following disorders, chiropractors may hesitate to perform spinal adjustments:

      Cost & Insurance Coverage

      The average cost of a chiropractic adjustment is $65 to $85.

      Depending on where you live, whether you’re seeing a specialist, and the years of experience of your chiropractor, the cost of a chiropractic adjustment varies. Chiropractic services range in cost from $30 to $200 per visit.

      Many chiropractors require a one-time fee for the initial consultation, where a physical examination, x-rays, and personal health history are usually administered. From this initial consultation, a doctor of chiropractic can lay out an effective treatment plan for each individual patient.

      Most chiropractic care is not covered by insurance. We do not accept insurance, including Medicare/Medicaid for this reason.

      Some insurance plans cover short-term chiropractic care for rehabilitation after an injury, such as a car crash or sports injury. However, most insurance plans do not cover chiropractic care for maintenance, prevention, and general wellness.

      If you’re considering chiropractic care but aren’t sure you can afford it, talk to your chiropractor’s office about options such as payment plans or CareCredit.

      Looking to the Future

      Chiropractors are highly qualified medical professionals with a Doctor of Chiropractic education. They are trained and educated to administer chiropractic adjustments to all sorts of people — from children to the elderly.

      At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we have administered countless chiropractic adjustments. Gentle adjustments of the upper spine are critical to recovering from cervical instability. Click here to learn more about our practice.


      1. Pollard, H., Ward, G., Hoskins, W., & Hardy, K. (2008). The effect of a manual therapy knee protocol on osteoarthritic knee pain: a randomised controlled trial. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 52(4), 229. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597887/
      2. Lawrence, D. J., Meeker, W., Branson, R., Bronfort, G., Cates, J. R., Haas, M., … & Triano, J. J. (2008). Chiropractic management of low back pain and low back-related leg complaints: a literature synthesis. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 31(9), 659-674. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19028250/
      3. Haneline, M. T., & Cooperstein, R. (2009). Chiropractic care for patients with acute neck pain: results of a pragmatic practice-based feasibility study. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 8(4), 143-155. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786244/
      4. Vernon, H., Borody, C., Harris, G., Muir, B., Goldin, J., & Dinulos, M. (2015). A randomized pragmatic clinical trial of chiropractic care for headaches with and without a self-acupressure pillow. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 38(9), 637-643. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26548737/
      5. Bernstein, C., Wayne, P. M., Rist, P. M., Osypiuk, K., Hernandez, A., & Kowalski, M. (2019). Integrating Chiropractic Care Into the Treatment of Migraine Headaches in a Tertiary Care Hospital: A Case Series. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 8, 2164956119835778. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440032/
      6. Yates, R. G., Lamping, D. L., Abram, N. L., & Wright, C. (1988). Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 11(6), 484-488. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3075649/
      7. Kingston, J., Raggio, C., Spencer, K., Stalaker, K., & Tuchin, P. J. (2010). A review of the literature on chiropractic and insomnia. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 9(3), 121-126. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3188343/
      8. Wearing, J., Beaumont, S., Forbes, D., Brown, B., & Engel, R. (2016). The use of spinal manipulative therapy in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(2), 108-114. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761829/
      9. Kaminskyj, A., Frazier, M., Johnstone, K., & Gleberzon, B. J. (2010). Chiropractic care for patients with asthma: A systematic review of the literature. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 54(1), 24. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829683/
      10. Assendelft, W. J., Bouter, L. M., & Knipschild, P. G. (1996). Complications of spinal manipulation. J Fam pract, 42(5), 475-80. Full text: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lex_Bouter/publication/14558928_Complications_of_spinal_manipulation_A_comprehensive_review_of_the_literature/links/0a85e53b069bae04ca000000.pdf
      11. Bronfort, G., Haas, M., Evans, R., Leininger, B., & Triano, J. (2010). Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report. Chiropractic & osteopathy, 18(1), 1-33. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841070/
      12. Dabbs, V., & Lauretti, W. J. (1995). A risk assessment of cervical manipulation vs. NSAIDs for the treatment of neck pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 18(8), 530-536. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8583176/
      13. American Chiropractic Association. (2016). Insurance coverage of chiropractic: quick facts. Full text: https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/What-is-Chiropractic/Access-Coverage/Insurance-Coverage

      Dr. Ty Carzoli

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      Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic

      Patient Reviews Say It All

      Click here to view our glowing patient testimonials. Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic delivers results when conventional doctors say it’s impossible.


      Based on 139 reviews.

      Dr.Ty Carzoli is extremely professional, punctual and informative. The office is clean and organized. My treatments from him have allowed me to think towards the future, not just day to day. Overall, a great experience!

      Leslie Goodman

      I absolutely LOVE going to Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Dr. Ty knows his stuff and I've never felt better. His style of chiropractic care has improved my sleeping, mood, and fitness capacity. Plus, they are really great at making me feel appreciated. See super sweet picture from my birthday. I would HIGHLY recommend giving them a try, but only if you really want to improve how you feel.

      Carla Streff

      Overall, I didn’t necessarily feel that I had any particular issues other than a prior shoulder injury that slightly bothered me when I exercised with a heavy set of weights. I felt fairly energetic due to the typical routine of exercise and eating a well balanced healthy diet. The idea for my treatment was to be more proactive about my long term health and ensure that I was in proper alignment.
      After my initial consultation, I found out my body was out of alignment more than I felt. I did not feel much different after the first few adjustments; however, what I did not realize until a few weeks in is that I had been waking up prior to treatment with kind of a groggy kind of feeling. After years of waking up like this I assumed this was just the norm. I now have been waking up with little fatigue and grogginess (even with a 10 month old baby) and a new burst of revitalization even if I did not get a full 8 hours of sleep. The feeling of being excited the day before a trip has been occurring on the standard day getting up for work. My workouts have also seen an improvement with the new improved energy levels as well as the standard weight I typically lift went up with little efforts.
      Dr. Ty is extremely knowledgeable about what he does and would not think about using anyone else for my care. I love walking into the awesome environment that Dr. Ty has established and the overall care that comes from the visits. Dr. Ty and his fantastic staff has an amazing energy that I very much look forward to when visiting the office!
      Even if you think that you have a good alignment, you should be sure to visit Dr. Ty for a great proactive health care plan!

      Derek Greer


      Visit us at 1778 S Broadway, Denver CO 80210 | Call Us 303-955-8270

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      Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic | 303-955-8270