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dallas chiropractor with flexion table.

What is Motion Palpation?

Motion palpation is a diagnostic technique used in chiropractic care to assess the movement and function of joints, particularly those of the spine and extremities. Chiropractors employ motion palpation as part of their hands-on examination to evaluate the segmental range of motion, stiffness, and any abnormal movements or restrictions in the joints. This assessment helps chiropractors identify areas of dysfunction, some know as "subluxations", and guides them in developing a tailored treatment plan for the patient.

The process involves the chiropractor using their hands to feel or palpate the motion and quality of movement in specific joints. This is typically done by gently moving or manipulating the patient's joints through their natural range of motion while observing for any irregularities, such as restrictions or excessive movement. The chiropractor may use their fingertips or hands to assess the texture, temperature, and fluidity of the joint, providing valuable information about its condition.

The key goals of motion palpation in chiropractic care include:

  1. Identifying Subluxations or Joint Restrictions: Chiropractors use motion palpation to detect subluxations, which are restrictions in the spine or other joints. These subluxations can affect the normal function of the neuromusculoskeletal system and contribute to various issues.

  2. Assessing Range of Motion: By evaluating the range of motion in joints, chiropractors can identify areas that may be restricted or experiencing abnormal movement. This information guides them in determining the appropriate adjustments to restore optimal function.

  3. Locating Dysfunction: Motion palpation helps chiropractors locate areas of dysfunction or joint restrictions. This information is crucial for developing a targeted treatment plan to address specific issues and improve overall joint health.

  4. Determining Joint Health: The assessment of joint texture, temperature, and fluidity during motion palpation provides insights into the overall health of the joints. Chiropractors can use this information to tailor their adjustments and therapies to the specific needs of each patient.

It's important to note that motion palpation is just one component of the chiropractic examination process, which may also include patient history, orthopedic tests, neurological assessments, and imaging studies when necessary. The combination of these diagnostic tools helps chiropractors gather a comprehensive understanding of a patient's musculoskeletal and nervous system health.


Chiropractors use the information obtained through motion palpation to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient. This plan often includes chiropractic adjustments, manual manipulations, and other therapeutic interventions aimed at restoring proper joint function, alleviating pain, and promoting overall well-being. While motion palpation is widely utilized in chiropractic care, it's essential for chiropractors to stay informed about current research and evidence-based practices. This commitment to evidence-based care ensures that chiropractors integrate the latest scientific knowledge into their diagnostic and treatment approaches, contributing to the ongoing evolution and credibility of the chiropractic profession.

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