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Manipulation Under Anesthesia


Manipulation Under Anesthesia -What is it, and When is it Appropriate?

manipulation_under_anesthesia.jpgAs the term describes, manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) is a procedure undertaken by a medical team in which a chiropractic-like manipulation is performed while the patient receives some sort of anesthetic, ranging from mild sedation to general anesthesia. It is commonly performed in cases of acute or chronic spinal pain, or frozen shoulder, where the condition has not improved after six to eight weeks of conservative treatment.

Let’s stop right there for a moment.  First the term ‘manipulation’ has negative connotation for multiple reasons.  In our office, we use specific, scientific, chiropractic adjustments (aka: adjustments).  Secondly, a medical team, potentially life threatening anesthesia, all after only 6-8 weeks of ‘conservative treatment’.  Let’s look further.

MUA is a non-surgical way of breaking down the fibrous adhesions and scar tissue that may have accumulated around the joints and the tissues in the area surrounding it as a result of past or present injuries. In addition to helping relieve back and neck pain, it is often used to help stretch shortened muscles and alleviate chronic muscle spasms, joint pain and other long-term pain issues. It can also reduce the level of pain in areas that are super-sensitive, which keep the patient from being able to fully cooperate in his care.


All of the above things are common effects under actual chiropractic care, even the last that speaks of ‘super-sensitiv(ity)’.  Proper chiropractic care isn’t painful, regardless of the reason for your visit.  So far the biggest missing connection between this and chiropractic is the nerves.  Nerve interference is the number one priority, and most powerful tool of chiropractors.


Licensed physicians perform the procedure as a team in a hospital or medical center, and this team includes the anesthesiologist, the chiropractor or surgeon who performs the manipulation and an assistant. The American Medical Association lists MUA as an established medical procedure, and it is a technique that has been used in conventional medical practice for over 60 years.


Being that this is an ‘established medical procedure’ the goal is to relieve symptoms.  The goal in our office is to allow your bodies amazing healing and health abilities to work without any interference.  In this case, the interference to that ability is a spinal Subluxation.


Patients who are selected to receive MUA must be made fully aware of both the risks and benefits of the procedure. Patients with one or more of the following conditions are considered to be candidates for MUA:

  • Mid back and lower back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Chronic muscle pain and inflammation.
  • Nerve entrapment.
  • Acute and chronic muscle spasms.
  • Decrease in range of motion in the spine.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Chronic occipital or tension headaches.
  • Pseudo-sciatica.
  • Sciatica where disc bulges are less than 5 mm contained.
  • Unsuccessful back surgery.
  • Conditions where narcotic pain relievers have been ineffective.
  • Traumatic torticollis.
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).
MUA may not be appropriate for patients with bone disorders, circulatory problems and neurological or cardiovascular disorders, such as fractures, arthritis, gout, malignancies with bone metastasis and diabetic neuropathy. 


Like many medical treatments, MUA has almost as many side effects and people it cannot help, than the opposite.


If you have been told or feel you may be a good candidate for the procedure, contact Dr. Seth Anderson, who will take your detailed health history, evaluate any diagnostic testing that may have been performed (such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI or ultrasound), and perform a thorough physical examination to determine if MUA may be right for you.


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  • "For years I suffered with severe lower back pain, sciatica, and migraines. Looking back, I'm amazed I could take care of my kids. My husband is in the military and I am a stay at home mom, primarily. Through all our moving around I've seen military docs all over. The answer was always the same: PILLS, PILLS, PILLS! One day at the YMCA in Lakewood, I met Dr. Anderson. He had an information table and it seemed like he might be able to help me. Dr. Anderson made things a lot better and always treated me with respect and courtesy. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the staff at Discover Chiropractic!"
    Kelly Moore University Place, WA

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