Chiropractic helps people. It's function is extremely complex. If it didn't help people it would have been simple for me to get out of it. My father has a serious L5 disc degeneration which causes demonstrable problems related to the neurology of his leg muscles, as well as pain. By merely rolling him on his side once in awhile, it dramatically improves his condition. This is where I fully support spinal manipulation. I do not speak bad about it, and if every patient were similar to my father, I would still be in practice. But they aren't. I suppose if you could single out every patient who actually responded because of the biomechanics of the adjustment and got rid of the rest, Chiropractic would collapse pretty quickly.
I bring up my father because his response to the adjustment convinces him beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am the stupidest human being alive for not being a Chiropractor. It eats me up, and I could never make him understand.
My mother and brother have major spinal issues as well, but receive only palliative results from adjustments and no lasting aid. And this is what you get from Chiropractic- a handful of people really do have a dramatic positive result. Many people have a palliative temporary relief of pain due to the release of endorphins and the subsequent muscle relaxation following the adjustment, many receive no benefit and a few get worse. When you add the very powerful placebo effect in the mix you get all sorts of interesting anecdotes. Patients will often tell the Chiropractor that they have gotten dramatically better even though they haven't and time tells that eventually. Most back and neck pain is self limiting anyways, so going to a chiropractor and receiving a temporary endorphin release by stimulation of the mechanoreceptors in the spinal joints will give the false impression to people that the adjustment helped solve the problem, even though the pain was self limiting. As they say, back pain takes a weeks to go away laying in bed and only 7 days with chiropractic.
All in all people like their chiropractors. They stay in business because they are gregarious and work on their patient care skills. They understand that making people feel good is what brings people in more than the actual adjustments they sell. This is missing in the medical field, and just the nice environment makes people love their chiropractor.
There are probably hundreds of different Chiropractice techniques, or maybe a different one for every Chiropractor. Some are hard and forceful and some don't require touching the patient at all. There is a woman in Seattle who vibrates her hands over her patient's neck without touching it. She was on Evening Magazine (a local T.V. show). She has patients lined up out the door and people who have experienced *dramatic* results from her awesome Chiropractic expertise. It must have taken her years to master this skill.
One friend of mine does a technique almost identical, but it uses a metal stylus. This is called "atlas orthogonal" technique (above picture). Using x-ray analysis, you position the stylus on the 1st vertebra just so. Then a tiny impulse imperceptibly pushes the stylus against the vertebra. You can't even feel it. Turning your neck or coughing puts more stress on the 1st vertebra than does this adjustment. This friend of mine also does traditional forceful popping style adjustments. When asked why he still does the non-force atlas orthoganal adjustment his reply was "we still do AO because it gets the best results of any of the adjustments we do".
So, if you live in my universe, this statement can be rearranged to say "generally speaking, doing absolutely nothing at all gets better results than popping the vertebra for most people".