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Dr. Anderson's Guide to Treating Extremity Pain

Understanding Chiropractic Extremity Adjusting
Extremity adjusting by a chiropractor refers to chiropractic adjustments done on the joints other than the vertebrae in the spine. All the joints in your body can benefit from chiropractic adjustments, including extremity joints like shoulders, elbows, and even your fingers and toes. A misalignment in any joint can lead to poor functioning and even inflammation or damage to surrounding soft tissues. Pain doesn’t have to become chronic when you take the time to care for your body and your greater well- being. Realigning joints throughout the body will enhance your body’s natural healing abilities and help your entire musculoskeletal system to function better. Chiropractic adjustments are designed to benefit healthier functioning for your whole body.

knee chiropractic adjustment

Top Benefits of Extremity Adjusting
Here are the top benefits of extremity adjusting by a chiropractor:


  • Decreases Pain. Whenever a joint is out of alignment it can cause you pain. Like a minor back pain, this pain might be dull and aching or stabbing and throbbing. The tiniest misalignment in one of your joints can lead to a significant amount of pain when it negatively affects the functioning of supportive tissues nearby. For example, a misalignment in your wrist joint can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, and an adjustment to your wrist joint can help relieve that pain. Chiropractic adjustments are safe and natural ways to address the root cause of your pain and discomfort so you can experience lasting relief.

  • Improves Body Mechanics. An adjustment to one joint in your body can have positive effects on the functioning of other parts of the body. When you have an issue with a joint, it can lead to poor posture and affect how you carry your weight. For example, an ankle joint out of place can cause you to redistribute weight and pressure from that ankle to the other side of your body. When you overcompensate because of pain or an injury, it can lead to weakening in some areas and too much stress in other areas. A chiropractor can perform an extremity adjustment on your ankle to help improve your body mechanics.

  • Supports Soft Tissues. All the joints in our bodies are surrounded and supported by soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and nearby nerves. When a joint is out of alignment, it can put undue pressure and stress on nearby muscles and other supportive soft tissues. A chiropractor can perform an extremity adjustment on your joint to help restore proper functioning and return those muscles and soft tissues to their normal strength. Chiropractors provide natural treatment to bones and joints as well as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues.

shoulder pain

Treating Shoulder Pain
How prevalent is it among chiropractic patients to seek care for shoulder pain? To find out, researchers in Australia mailed 1,037 surveys to New South Wales-based chiropractors. A total of 192 surveys were completed. Results revealed that “the Prevalence of shoulder pain symptoms as reported by the practitioners was 12% of the total weekly patients, with the major cause of symptoms related to overuse (32%). … Rehabilitation strategies were also used by 89% of practitioners with a main emphasis placed on rotator cuff strengthening” (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 2009; 23:107-17).

The advantage of chiropractic care for rotator cuff injury of the shoulder is its natural, multifaceted approach. Instead of invasive surgery, chiropractors use gentle, safe maneuvers called chiropractic adjustments, combined with specific exercises and physiotherapy that prove effective in alleviating shoulder pain (Chiropractic Osteopathy Journal 2005;16:20).

One report in the prestigious medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at 150 patients with shoulder problems. All patients received standard medical care. Half of the patients also underwent manipulative therapy of the shoulder joint. After 12 weeks, 43 percent of the manipulative therapy (adjustment) group had recovered, compared with only 21 percent of controls. When researchers checked back with the patients after one year, the same difference in recovery rate persisted.

“Manipulative therapy for the shoulder girdle in addition to usual medical care accelerates recovery of shoulder symptoms,” concluded the study’s authors (Ann Intern Med 2004;141:432).

shoulder pain

Treating Elbow Pain

Chiropractic adjustments alleviate common elbow problems, such as “tennis elbow” (lateral epicondylitis) and “golfer’s elbow” (medial epicondylitis).

For instance, a single chiropractic adjustment to the neck (cervical spine) can produce a significant reduction in pain associated with lateral epicondylitis, according to one study (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics 2008;31:678-81). As a part of the experimental, sessions were performed on two separate days, at least 48 hours apart. At each session, participants received either a cervical spine adjustment or manual contact. Findings showed that the adjustment produced an immediate drop in pain and increase in grip strength (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics 2008; 31:678).

Other research conducted at the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, Australia reveals that a specific type of adjustments to the elbow itself produces an immediate and dramatic drop in pain for patients with tennis elbow. As part of the study, researchers tested pain-free grip strength in24 patients before and after receiving manipulation to the elbow or a placebo process procedure. Findings showed “a significant and substantial increase in pain-free grip strength of 58 percent” during treatment but not during placebo and control (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics 2003; 6:205-12).

Treating Wrist Pain

Adjustments to the wrist may also keep elbow conditions at bay. You see, as forearm muscles tighten, they pull on the attachments at the wrist bones (carpal bones). Realigning the wrist bones can reset the tension of those muscles. One experiment enrolled 28 patients with tennis elbow. The subjects received either manipulation of the wrist or a standard physical therapy protocol (ultrasound, friction massage, muscle stretching and strengthening exercises).

A growing body of research indicates that chiropractic care is a winning solution for wrist pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and the lesser-known conditions that mimic it. (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 2007; 30:50-61).

Findings showed that the drug-free chiropractic approach was as effective as medical treatment, without the potentially hazardous side effects of painkillers (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 1998;21:317-26).

Chiropractic care is also effective for the lesser-known disorders that are often misdiagnosed as CTS. One such condition is ulnar tunnel syndrome (UTS). One scientific case study tracked a 45- year-old woman with UTS. Her symptoms resolved following four chiropractic visits during which she received wrist adjustments (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 2003; 26:602-7).

treating wrist pain

Treating Knee Pain

Knee pain is associated with a restriction in the joint connecting the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula). This joint –the tibiofibular joint – is located at the outer base of the knee.


When the knee joint is out of alignment, the kneecap (patella) may be thrown slightly off track during walking and other activities requiring the knee to bend. One study demonstrated that chiropractic adjustments not only subdue knee pain, but they also help restore proper tracking to the kneecap (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 1990;13:539-49).

Another scientific report reviewed a case of knee pain that afflicted a patient for five years. According to the study, chiropractic adjustment of the tibiofibular joint “resulted in immediate and dramatic relief of symptoms.” (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 1992; 15:382-7).

A third study described a patient with a torn knee meniscus. Menisci are bundles of connective tissue that cushion the inner-knee joint. This tear was confirmed by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although three separate medical physicians recommended surgery, the patient chose to try chiropractic intervention first: consisting of adjustments to the knee and homeopathic remedies. The result? A complete resolution of pain and disability (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 1994; 17:474-84).

Pain at the front of the knee (anterior knee pain) is typically associated with sacroiliac joint dysfunction. This critical joint located in the pelvis, connects the sacrum (the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine) with the ilium (pelvic bones). The theory is that SI dysfunction may contribute to muscle inhibition, leading to knee pain.

In one study, researchers divided a group of 20 patients into two groups: 10 who received SI adjustments and 10 who received adjustments to their tibiofemoral (knee) joint. While both groups experienced a boost in muscle strength, researchers noted a more “significant improvement within the SI manipulation group.” (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 2006; 29:145-9.)

leg chirorpactic adjustment

Treating Ankle and Feet Pain

Did you know that there are 26 bones in each of your feet? Injuries, changes in age, footwear and pregnancy can allow the bones of the feet to shift out of alignment causing foot and heel pain, ankle or even back pain.

Scientific evidence supports the use of chiropractic for ankle and foot injuries. In one analysis of 30 patients with sprained ankles, researchers found that chiropractic ankle adjustments were superior to ultrasound therapy. Adjustments significantly reduced pain and increased ankle range of motion and function (Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy 2001; 24:17-24).

Chiropractic and Extremity Pain

When spinal and extremity manipulations are combined, individuals experience less pain and better nervous system function, and old and new injuries also heal faster, providing long term relief and an increase in overall health. Most individuals are also able to reduce their reliance on prescription and OTC anti-inflammatories and pain medications.

If you are experiencing pain, weakness and numbness in your arms or legs or experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow or carpel tunnel syndrome, come visit our Lakewood chiropractic office. We can diagnose the source of your pain and treat your extremity injuries.

wrist pain
Understanding Chiropractic Extremity Adjusting
5 Benefits of Extremity Adjusting
Treating Shoulder Pain
Treating Elbow Pain
Treating Wrist Pain
Treating Knee Pain
Treating Ankle and Feet Pain
Chiropractic and Extremity Pain
Patient Story
Lush Hills

A Bad Case of Swimmer's Shoulder

How one swimmer found relief to get back in the pool

Things were going great for Rebecca- it was her senior year, she was captain of the swim team, and she had interest from major college swim teams for the following year. 

Until they weren't.

shoulder injury

Rebecca got out of the pool a week before the first meet of the season. Her shoulder was kind of bothering her, but she didn't think much of it, she figured she just needed some rest.

The next morning Rebecca woke up to throbbing pain in her shoulder, she could barely lift it above flat. She had another practice that day before the big meet and didn't know what to do.

"The next morning Rebecca woke up to throbbing pain in her shoulder, she could barely lift it above flat."

She came to practice after a long day at school struggling to type and write. When she tried to swim, her shoulder failed, so her coach recommended she rest. Rebecca sat on the cold bleachers wishing she could swim with her team.

After practice, Rebecca asked her coach what she should do. She figured she over did it at practice the other day but didn't know how to make the pain in her shoulder go away.

"I've got a great chiropractor, he always fixes my pain fast."

"'I've got a great chiropractor, he always fixes my pain fast.'"


Rebecca's coach gave her a chiropractic's card and told her to walk-in for an appointment before their next practice. Her coach knew she was eager to swim in front of the college scouts and wanted to help her get back into the pool as soon as possible.

The following day Rebecca and her mom went to the chiropractor for an adjustment. The chiropractor asked a few questions about her pain and where it came from, then performed an adjustment.

He started with a manual adjustment, then moved on to an activator adjustment to fine tune her shoulder. Rebecca felt instant relief and could even move her arm above her head again. 

Rebecca was able to participate in practice that day. She was still a little sore, so she went in for a few more treatments before her meet the following weekend. Feeling fully recovered, Rebecca felt ready to conquer her meet- she even won first place and caught the eye of a recruiter from her top choice college.


Dr. Anderson is a very personable individual that really cares about overall wellbeing. I have never really felt confident enough to actually go in to see a chiropractor but Dr. Anderson made it easy to give it a go. I have recently had my second adjustment and can say that it will not be my last. He takes into consideration the type of work you do and makes the corresponding adjustments to help you in your day-to-day life. The next step for me is to properly align my feet, knees, and spine, and Dr. Anderson is there to help.

Jordan C.


Get out of pain today

Call, make an appointment online, or walk-in to get treated at your convenience. 

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