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What is Soft Tissue and Bony Palpation in Chiropractic?

Palpation is a common word in the healthcare field for evaluation by touch. The term soft tissue refers to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and fascia. Soft tissue palpation refers to the evaluation of the soft tissues by touch by identifying if there is tightness (also known as tonicity), tenderness (pain or discomfort with touch or pressure applied to the soft tissues), soft tissue quality (does it stretch or lengthen appropriately for proper range of motion and mobility?) and if it creates any familiar symptoms that the patient experiences. Pain referral patterns can occur as well when performing soft tissue palpation where the pain can travel and show up in another spot on the body when pressing in one area to evaluate tonicity and tenderness. 


Bony palpation refers to evaluation of the skeletal system, which can include bones themselves (such as if evaluating for a fracture, leg length inequalities, etc.) or how well joints throughout the skeletal system are moving together or individually. 


Often times, chiropractic adjustments and manipulations are targeted in segmental and specific regions where the joints are not moving enough, which can result in pain, degeneration of the joint and arthritis.

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