What is an extremity adjustment?

Extremity adjustment

What is an extremity adjustment?

An extremity adjustment is a gentle manipulation that realigns and restores proper movement in joints that are not part of the spine.  Any joint can benefit from adjustments, including ribs, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, feet, fingers, toes, and even your jaw.

Nearly every joint of your skeletal system can to become misaligned, which can impair function and range of motion. When joints lose motion, they begin to break down over time.  If you’ve ever had frozen shoulder, you can probably imagine this very well.  When your joints are misaligned, the tissues around the joint stretch, causing weakening of the adjacent muscles. Aligning the joints will help restore normal strength and proper function.

Extremity adjustments can help with conditions like frozen shoulder, TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome, and many other conditions where there is pain or inflammation around the joint.


First, let’s consider body mechanics as a whole. When a part of your body isn’t functioning properly, other parts have to compensate. For example, when you hurt your ankle, your weight unconsciously shifts to the other foot to alleviate pain and pressure on the injury. While it may be helpful in the short term, it’s important to correct the issue so that your whole body can go back to carrying its normal load. If the  ankle remains misaligned and without healthy motion, it can cause nerve pressure in your extremities which could minimize range of motion.  Having the ankle adjusted will help get you back on track faster and prevent over compensating and experiencing other shifts and misalignments.


Secondly, an extremity adjustment improves body mechanics and how your body is connected.  In the ankle example above, it’s important to recognize the strain you are putting on other joints by shifting your weight.  Walking differently on your “good foot” causes your hips to adjust, which shifts your spine, then your upper body, as well. You also shift your shoulders and tilt your head slightly to adjust for balance, all without being consciously aware. This can lead to other problems in other joints, so it’s important to recognize how our bodies work as a whole.


Next, we’ll talk about “referred pain”. That’s when you feel pain in a part of the body that is away from the actual source. Consider a “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache”.  This happens when nerves in the throat and palate experience rapid cooling and transmit pain signals to the brain.  The experience of referred pain can happen anywhere in the body, sometimes making it difficult to treat the source.

Chiropractors are trained in nerve pathways and how best to relieve the pressure on nerves. While you might feel pain in your elbow, a chiropractor may detect and treat misalignment in your shoulder as the true culprit. Adjusting the source helps promote nerve flow to alleviate the pain, referred or otherwise.


Further, an extremity adjustment is part of whole body wellness care.  Our bodies are connected and everything ties together.  Therefore, it’s important to keep everything maintained at an optimal level to avoid stress on other areas of the body.  The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the small joint where your jaw and temple meet next to your ear. It is put under a lot of stress when you chew, tense your jaw during stressful times, or grind your teeth at night.  Due to its close proximity to the ear, a tiny shift in it can cause headaches, ear aches, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).  These are all conditions chiropractors treat.


Finally, extremity adjustments have a big impact on athletes and staying active altogether.  Our ankle example becomes a risky situation for athletes.  Putting strain on a weak ankle or compensating can lead to some serious injuries.  Athletes must make quick movements, requiring proper function and nerve communication.  Keeping the spine and all the extremities aligned and moving properly improves optimal performance in athletes.  That is why 90% of professional athletes see a chiropractor.

This also has a big impact on people staying active or doing physical labor, especially as you age.  Chiropractors correct imbalances in spine and extremities related repetitive motions you do while working or enjoying our favorite activities.  We want to keep you doing the things you love and help you THRIVE.

It’s always easier to maintain function that repair injury!

We’d love to answer your questions and help you reach your wellness goals.  Schedule a visit online now or give us a call!

Be well!

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