Manipulation Under Anesthesia: An Effective Treatment

An estimated 80 percent of Americans suffer from back pain at some point during their lives and finding relief can be the biggest challenge. While the duration and degree of pain can vary greatly, those experiencing the pain can all agree that any time or pain is too much. The most common causes of back pain are muscular or nerve issues, degenerative disk disease, and arthritis.

Whatever the cause may be, finding the right solution is all that matters and manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) may be the answer you have been looking for.  

Chiropractic manipulative treatment is a non-invasive treatment that can help treat acute or chronic conditions like neck, back and joint pain, muscles spasms, shortened muscles, fibrous adhesions and others. The premise behind MUA is to address certain patient impediments that are unresponsive to the conventional care of doctors, physical therapists or even chiropractors.

During MUA, chiropractors use their hands or a device to apply adequate pressure to proper align vertebral column to alleviate conditions like:

  • Scar tissue adhesions surrounding spinal joints
  • Chronic muscle spasms
  • Hypersensitivity to traditional manipulation
  • Persistent shortening of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Nerve entrapment
  • Pseudo-sciatica
  • Complications from back surgery
  • Traumatic torticollis
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Many more

Once the patient has been medically cleared, utilizing anesthesia allows the chiropractor to manipulate without the worry of causing pain but also anesthesia:

  • Shuts off the muscle spasm cycle
  • Sedates the pain perceiving nerves that become activated due to spinal issues
  • Allows complete muscle relaxation so that the doctor can stretch the shortened muscle groups and break up scar tissue formations

Types of Manipulative Techniques

Once the patient has been cleared and evaluated, the doctor will determine the proper technique for the patient’s condition. Some of these techniques include:

  • Soft tissue– includes lateral stretching, linear stretching, deep pressure, traction and/or separation of muscle origin and insertion. These techniques are used to treat the periarticular tissue and decrease the muscle spasms and increase mobility.
  • Articulatory– this technique aims to treat the periarticular and articular tissues to increase both the quality and range of motion. The articulation is put through a full anatomic range of motion while passive force is used in the direction of restriction.
  • Specific joint mobilization– this manual manipulation technique focuses on restoring the joint’s range of motion, reducing restrictions, decreasing muscle tension and to stretch out shortened, scared connective tissues.

Following your MUA treatment, you may experience a slight increase in muscle soreness depending on the technique that was required to address your condition but you should immediately gain an increased range of motion. It is often suggested to follow up with additional therapies such as electrical muscle stimulation, stretching, ultrasound, heat or even massage to help prevent the reformation of the initial problems.

The MUA treatment is done as an outpatient procedure but you will be required to have someone drive you home. Once under anesthesia, intravenous, and you have fallen asleep, the treatment takes around 15 minutes but can be longer depending on the specific details and response. Some cases will require up to four consecutive days of treatment to achieve the desired results but the post-treatment therapies will be prescribed in conjunction to give you pain-free movement once again.

If you are struggling with back pain like so many other Americans are, head to a chiropractor and get the relief that you deserve. BackFit Health + Spine has six convenient locations throughout the Valley (Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, and Tempe), so you are never far from a trusted name in chiropractic care. To learn more about MUA and other chiropractic techniques and treatments offered by BackFit or to schedule your appointment, visit

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