A chiropractic back adjustment is a type of manual therapy (i.e., a treatment delivered through the physician’s hands) that seeks to realign joint subluxations. Note that the word subluxation means different things to a chiropractor than it does to a medical doctor, though either way, the definition of the term is “partial dislocation.”
When a chiropractor looks for a subluxation (via the diagnostic process,) the things she notes tend to be subtle gradations of position changes in the joints and accompanying soft tissue problems. When a medical doctor sees a subluxation on an x-ray, it’s a very obvious disconnect between the bones that make up a joint.
Learn more about the difference between the way an allopathic doctor sees a subluxation vs the way a chiropractor sees it.
Although a number of chiropractic methods and techniques exist, the most common version of an adjustment involves a controlled but fast directional thrust into the joint.