Do Chiropractic Adjustments Hurt?

do chiropractic adjustments hurt?

You’ve gotten out of bed after a night of restless sleep due to chronic back discomfort. You aren’t sure if it’s your mattress or maybe your golf swing that is causing this pain. Or maybe you bent down to pick up your child and you felt intense, sudden pain in your lower back as it decided to lock up tight. Either way, it hurts to move your neck or pick up the groceries. Maybe, it hurts to walk or make any sudden movements. You can’t imagine how you will be able to get through your workday, let alone manage the uncomfortable commute to work.

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Back pain can be excruciating and debilitating. It effects your sleep, your productivity and can be a major source of depression and anxiety. Although many people may be reluctant to try it for the first time, seeking an adjustment from a licensed chiropractor is a perfectly safe and effective route to pain relief. Although it may take several chiropractic adjustments, people often report feeling relief even after their first visit. But for the uninitiated, what exactly is a chiropractic adjustment? And more importantly how much pain is involved in this type of treatment?

Related: 3 Signs It’s Time to See a Chiropractor for Your Lower Back Pain

Do Chiropractic Adjustments Hurt?

When a licensed chiropractor recommends that you receive an adjustment, it simply means that they are going to apply pressure to your back in order to realign your spinal column. With time, this realignment eases your pain, promotes better posture and improves your body’s physical function. In general, chiropractors use their hands or a small medical instrument to manipulate the joints in a quick, controlled fashion. Adjustments are a simple outpatient treatment which can be completed on your lunch break. There is little to no pain involved in an adjustment. Most chiropractic patients report that any minor aches and pains felt after a visit are similar to those felt after vigorous exercise or intense stretching.

Risks of Chiropractic Adjustments

As with any medical procedure, one must be aware of any risks involved. These risks are rare, but nevertheless you must consider them prior to your first chiropractic adjustment. 

  • A chance of a herniated disk or aggravation of an already herniated disk
  • Nerve compression in the lower spinal column
  • A chance of stroke related to a neck adjustment (this risk is minimal)

As always, speak with a doctor or medical provider to get advance about your specific situation. There are certain people for whom a chiropractic adjustment is not advised. If any items on the list describe your health history, do not seek chiropractic care.

  • Known Osteoporosis
  • Any numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
  • Any unusual loss of strength in your arms or legs
  • Cancer of the spinal column
  • If you have an increased risk of stroke
  • Any instability in the spine

Related: Understanding the Different Chiropractic Techniques

What to Expect for My Chiropractic Adjustment

For someone who has never experienced chiropractic care, seeking out an adjustment may be intimidating. Just like any trip to the doctor’s office, you will be led into a private exam room. This room will most likely contain furniture that resembles a comfy masseuse table or chair. This is because you are often asked to lie on your stomach or on your back and relax during the adjustment.

The chiropractor will address your pain issues and concerns while explaining the treatments he or she is able to offer you. The doctor may ask you some questions about your help history or go over any x-rays that you have had taken. The chiropractor will position you on the table while explaining exactly what he or she is about to do. Once you are comfortable, the chiropractor begins your treatment.

Related: Does a Chiropractor Always Use Their Hands When Adjusting?

You may hear pops and cracks from your joints as the doctor performs the procedure, but you should not feel any intense pain. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may perform a second or third adjustment.  After he or she is finished the doctor will advise you on some simple after care such as ice packs or heat pads, which will continue to help your pain management. It is important to note that each type of adjustment offered is a bit different. Here is an explanation of some of the typical types of adjustments performed by licensed chiropractors.

Neck Adjustment

Neck adjustments are performed by manipulating your cervical vertebrae in order to improve mobility in the joints. This is usually done as you lie comfortably on your back in a relaxed position. The chiropractor touches your neck and rotates your head from side to side in a controlled motion. Neck adjustments are often treatment for people who have chronic headaches and neck tension.

Lower Back Adjustment

There are several ways to achieve a lower back adjustment. One typical fashion to have the patient lay on his or her back and gently rotate the hips so that one leg is over the other and the patient’s lower body is resting on the hip. Again, you may hear some snaps and cracks from your joints, but there is no pain felt in this type of adjustment.

Related: 4 Exceptionally Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

most patients report little to no pain after a chiropractic adjustment

Shoulder Adjustment

Although not generally considered part of the spinal column, shoulders can play an important role in spinal health. A misalignment in the shoulder could cause back pain, neck pain or headaches. Typically, this type of adjustment is done while the patient is sitting up comfortably on the examination table. The chiropractor manipulates the shoulder in order to shift the joint backwards or forwards and create better alignment. This will help to improve a patient’s posture which will help with overall spinal alignment. This type of adjustment is especially good for anyone who spends most of their time sitting at a desk.

How Often Should You Get Adjustment?

Some people find that their pain is gone after one chiropractic adjustment. However, most people do require several visits to fully realign their spine. Other people make regular visits to the chiropractor as part of their overall health management. This is something that you can decide along with your doctor of chiropractic. Also, it is important to note that chiropractic care may be covered by your health insurance program. More and more insurance providers are beginning to recognize the benefit of regular chiropractic care. Contact your insurance provider to see how many visits are covered by your plan.

Chiropractic adjustments are a safe and effective way to manage your back, neck, and shoulder pain. Don’t assume that having an adjustment will cause more pain than you are already in. Although some people report minor aches and pains after an adjustment, these symptoms often disappear within a day. Most people feel a reduction in pain and a sense of relaxation and comfort after a visit to the chiropractor. If you are having intense or increasing pain in your back, shoulders or neck a chiropractic adjustment may be right for you.