What are my chiropractic treatment options?

How a Chiropractor can treat the same injury in 6 different ways.


As a chiropractor I often find there to be some confusion as to what it is we actually do as healthcare practitioners – what exactly are my chiropractic treatment options? I often hear “I don’t need my back cracked, so why would I need to see a chiropractor?” It is true, we do manually adjust the spine – from the neck down to the lower back – but we are capable of so much more, and often times we don’t even need to adjust!

I am going to walk you through a common problem we see in the clinic, and how I as a chiropractor can address the issue utilizing different techniques.

Patient Scenario #1:

Patient presents with neck stiffness that is worse by the end of the day. Usually a few times a week, the tightness in the neck will cause a headache that starts at the base of the skull, and will eventually wrap around the sides of the head. The patient will usually take some ibuprofen or Tylenol and rest for a few hours in an attempt to resolve the headache.


After an exam we arrive at a diagnosis and highlight a few key contributors to the discomfort.



Cervicogenic (Tension) Headache (Headache that originates from the neck)

tension headache causes

Tension headache mechanism

Target areas for treatment:

  • Suboccpital muscles
  • Upper trapezius muscle
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Scalene muscle group




Treatment option 1: Muscle Release Therapy (MRT)

Active Release Technique demonstration

Active Release Technique

  • Using a pin and stretch technique, we target the muscles of the neck in an attempt to loosen restricted tissues. Necks that can’t move well have a tendency to become dysfunctional. MRT aims to strip and stretch the muscles contributing to the headache in order to relieve symptoms.

Treatment Option 2: Acupuncture

Example of Acupuncture

Shoulder Acupuncture with electric stimulation

  • Here we target the hypertonic (tight) muscles of the neck with thin needles that will be stimulated with electricity. By over stimulating the muscles we are trying to trick the brain into breaking the spasm that is causing those particular muscles to tense up. The constant contraction of the muscles will also cause fatigue and thus relaxation.


Upper trapezius graston technique example

Graston (IASTM) technique

Treatment option 3: Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization

  • Another form of soft tissue therapy where we attempt to loosen muscles that have become stiff. This is accomplished by using stainless steel tools that break down muscle adhesions and scar tissue. When coupled with appropriate movement, this will lead to the restoration of complete and pain free movement.

Treatment option 4: Cupping Therapy

Neck Cupping example

Cupping Therapy for the Neck

Cupping uses a cup to pull an area of skin into a suction that decompresses muscles and connective tissue. This promotes blood flow to the area, enhancing circulation and range of motion to the soft tissues. Think of it as a reverse deep massage, where instead of pressing into the tissue, we are pulling the tissue outwards.


Chiropractic adjustment example

Chiropractic Adjustment

Treatment option 5: Joint Manipulation

When joints become stiff and lose movement, the soft tissues around them will tighten and cause increasing tightness. Joint manipulations take stuck joints, and quickly moves them through their full active range of motion in an attempt to restore function. It is a common misconception, but we do not push bones back into place. That sound you hear is just gas escaping from the joints in your body.


Treatment option 6: stretches and exercises

Neck stretch example

Upper trap neck stretch

Most issues can also be resolved actively with the proper stretches and exercises. An effective exercise and stretch routine will help target tight muscles, and then strengthen them to help reduce the reoccurrence of pain and discomfort.


Depending on your comfort level, there are several different ways we can treat the same issue. In actual practice, most treatments will combine several of these chiropractic treatment options to target the muscles, joints and nerves that may be contributing to your discomfort.

In conclusion, we do more than just “crack bones.” These treatment options can be used in almost any situation to effectively treat conditions such as carpal tunnel, achilles tendonitis, or golfer’s elbow. If you believe chiropractic care is right for you, or if you have any questions you can contact us at 905-934-2121 or info@cornerstonetw.com