What Does a Chiropractic Adjustment Do?

This is such a common question, it is continually being researched and the answer refined.  It is so rarely answered well, that I thought it would be good to create a full page to answer.  I will also update it periodically?  When I do update it I will create a post about the update so that you can be kept up to date, and the information will be all in one place.

In my first post on this topic.  I decided to leave out some reasons for space limitations (I try to keep my blogs under 400 words, not that I’m always successful), and some for the lack of research, some for  them being controversial, and many others I just don’t know about.

So, here goes…

Chiropractic manipulation is not just joint popping. In fact the audible pop doesn’t even need to occur for a successful manipulation, though it often does, and some patients and doctors like to hear it. Research has found that pop or not, the same benefits are experienced and that trying repeatedly to get a pop can actually cause damage.

The mechanism of why manipulation works is not completely understood. One thing that is understood is that it does work. Most of the simple explanations are incomplete or just plain wrong. The most recent research points to a more complex reason for the therapeutic effects of chiropractic manipulation. It is suggested that many things are occurring at the same time that provide the benefits.

Here are some of the known things that can begin to explain why manipulation works.

1. Proprioceptive stimulation triggers the release of endorphins. These endorphins cause a near instant and temporary relief similar to pain medication making you less aware of the problem. This trick of the body can cause a secondary benefit, that of relaxing local tissues such as trigger points or tight musculature that may be pinching nerves.

2. Manipulation provides improved nutrient supply. The cartilage and other structures inside of a joint have no blood supply. These structures get their nutrients through motion. The blood supply goes to the outside of the joint and nutrients move into the synovial fluid of the joint. Joint motion moves this fluid around thus providing fresh nutrients to all parts of the joint, as well as removing waste. If a joint becomes locked down by muscle spasm, scar tissue, a cast, or any other means, for a prolonged period of time the joint begins to feel stiff. You know the feeling of needing to stretch after sitting in the car for a long time.

The facet joints in your spine are particularly vulnerable to this problemskeleton because they work in tandem and because of the body’s amazing ability to compensate. Your facet joints all work together, if one is injured it can become locked down to prevent further injury. When this happens you may get the desire to stretch or move your back. This usually works, but if all of the other joints compensate for the problem joint and take that added stress of movement on themselves then the problem joint stays locked down. Specific manipulation induces full range of motion and synovial fluid movement.

3. Manipulation can reduce pressure on the nerves. Your nervous system is the control center of your body, and it is not without weaknesses.  Nerves and nerve bundles are soft tissue.  They don’t function well under physical pressure.  In fact it has been shown that inflammation, a bulging disc, or fragment floating around can interfere with proper nerve conduction.  The stuck joint as discussed previously can also physically be stuck pressing on a nerve, or could be causing inflammation that is pressing on the nerve, or could just be moving in a way that rubs the nerve.  In any case.  The adjustment can cause a relief of this pressure. through movement of the joint to the correct position, or motion.

4. Proprioceptive retraining allows for improved function. The brain also records these proprioceptive signals from the joints motion. Especially for chronic conditions the brain is in need of retraining regarding the motion of that joint. Manipulation takes a joint through its full range of motion. This new input is then stored and replayed in the brain, similar to muscle retraining that physical therapists will do, or physical training of athletes, when the body has done the motion enough times it remembers it. This retraining provides a functional correction that may provide pain relief.

Here are some of the more controversial observations, benefits, and mechanisms of chiropractic. (I must note that just because we don’t know how it works doesn’t mean that it doesn’t.)

Somatovisceral effects – That they exist is not so much controversial as is the predictability.  We know that the spine can effect the visceral organs, but we can’t really say that if you adjust this level this often in this way that you will get the pancreas to produce this much more insulin.  The mechanism, more likely, is one of many things acting on the organs.  As with everything else in the body it is more complicated than one single interaction.

Reduced high blood pressure – WebMD research article more research needed, and mechanism unknown.

Improved immune system response – I have yet to see a great side by side study of people who receive chiropractic care next to a control group who doesn’t, to see who gets a cold and how long they last.  However there are articles and case studies out there.  Even if chiropractic does benefit the immune system, we don’t know the mechanism of how.

Decreased colic in babies – I’ve seen an association, and I’ve read studies that show that there is an effect.  I don’t know the mechanism, and I’ve not seen anything more than theories.

I have taken to recording my own observations and creating case studies of the effects of chiropractic that I have seen. Two new and relatively unstudied benefits that I have found are  an improvement in vocal performance, and a decrease in bed wetting with chiropractic manipulation.  A mechanism for these is not fully understood yet.

Many other benefits have been observed, and still others suspected. Research is still going on and much more is needed.  I will add them and any new or additional documentation as I find them, and as my time permits.

198 thoughts on “What Does a Chiropractic Adjustment Do?

  1. Maryann

    If I have been receiving chiropractic care for a week and a half now and i would like to stop (even thought she has months more planned), how do i go about “closing the spine” and being able to run, jump, and exercise without damaging my spine?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I don’t quite understand the term “closing the spine.” To run, jump and exercise without damaging your spine you need to have a healthy spine. If you just started care then you have begun the process of returning your spine to health. I would recommend continuing. If you are out of pain and feel that is all that you want out of the care then you can end it. At that point I would recommend wellness precautions. Do everything that you should to take care of yourself. Regular cardiovascular exercise, core strengthening, healthy diet, and don’t smoke or use other drugs. If there is something specific the chiropractor told you and you disagree I suggest you discuss it with her and determine your best path. Good luck.

      Reply
    2. Kat

      It takes time for your spine to heal, so listen to your Chiropractic says or if you think its heal enough, go back to your doctor and tell him or her on how you feel on this situation with your spine.

      Reply
  2. Tara

    @Maryann – it doesn’t really work that way. You can’t make the healing go faster. It’s your SPINE, a delicate and fragile instrument, you can’t just cram months worth of work into a week!!

    Reply
  3. kidsbluefishie

    I have been seeing a chiropractor for about a year to treat residual symptoms from chronic lyme disease. A few weeks ago, it dawned on me that I had not shared with him there is a direct correlation between my menstrual cyle and an increase in all my symptoms he is treating. I didn’t purposely withhold this information, I have been living with it so long it didn’t occur to me to say anything. However, I am now embarrassed to say something. I fear that this may be information that isn’t relevant to his treatment plan, and it would be an “akward” conversation for nothing. I am not even sure how to bring up the conversation. Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I hope that my doctor patient relationships are such that my patients feel comfortable telling me anything related to their health. As a doctor we have to deal with socially taboo topics. We have to tell people that they are overweight in order to help them with it. I have to tell women that their larger breasts may be the cause of their upper back pain. I have to ask people about their bowel and bladder habits to determine nerve function. You wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who was unable to deal with these topics, and you might think less of a doctor who couldn’t tell that you were overweight. Your information may or may not change your treatment plan, but the more information that you can give to your doctor the better decisions he can make. You are not a bad patient for omitting something that you didn’t realize was a symptom, but now that you recognize it you should add it to the list. Good luck stepping out of your comfort zone.

      Reply
    2. irma

      Definately tell your chiropractor. I have bruxism and never told my chiropractor. When the pain took over and I told him so he used a tool specifically for that issue. Speak up. Its worth it.

      Reply
  4. kidsbluefishie

    Thank you for your reply. Any tips for making this less akward? Or is it just best to be straight forward and talk about it directly?

    Reply
    1. Amanda

      I have been seeing a chiro that I love and trust for some post pregnancy adjusting (initially 5-6 sessions and now prn) I went today after doing some very heavy (totally not supposed to) lifting moving not only my sister but also my work office. After today’s adjustment, I rocked my daughter to sleep in the recliner and when I got up to put her in bed my right leg completely buckled at the knee and I went down to the floor. My daughter never left my arms and bless her heart even stayed asleep. (She is 10mo and around 25lbs) Could there be some correlation with the adjustment? Has this happened to anyone else? I know my leg was not asleep. I sat with my daughter on the floor for about 90 seconds and then I was able to bear enough weight to stand, though it was probably about 4 minutes before I could bear weight on it completely.
      It should be noted… I had lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in 2004. I have some residual nerve damage and weakness on my right side because my ortho surgeon shaved bone off my hip to fill my spinal “crack” for lack of a better term. The surgery was due to dangerous spinal movement due to spondolothesis (not sure if that is spelled right) my spine was impinging on my cord. Also the same right knee does like to “pop” frequently, so I may have some free fluid behind the knee or some tissue damage. But my leg has never given out and I have never dropped to the floor before. Any links or ideas would be appreciated.

      Reply
      1. cmnacnud Post author

        Amanda, I’m sorry to hear that you are having such trouble. Typically weakness/paralysis is the worst of the nerve symptoms, and warrants a nerve conduction study to make sure that you don’t end up with any permanent damage. With prior nerve damage it is possible that this is related to your old surgical injury. It is not likely related to the adjustment as it would more likely have happened right afterwards with a sudden temporary nerve injury like bumping your funny bone. The timing to me points to your posture in the chair. Especially while holding babies we tend to do funny things to our body to make sure that the baby is comfortable and does not wake. My guess is that the nerve was being pinched due to an odd position and manifested upon standing.

        The good news is that you are probably fine. Occasionally things like this will happen and just be unexplained. In most cases that I’ve heard of this just happens and then never happens again. I still would recommend getting a referral from your Chiropractor to a good Neurologist or talk to your surgeon and ask about it as a possible complication from your surgery.

    2. Amanda

      I would absolutely be direct. Something like “I have noticed that when I have my menstrual cycle that (this) happens.” Any doctor chiro etc is treating you based on the symptoms that you present. And your chiro may then say “ah that makes sense because…”

      Reply
  5. Dimitri

    I recently went to the chiropractor for the first time to treat a shoulder injury and he put this down to a spinal misalignment in my lower back region. I have had two injuries in the past which were a pretty severe right side lower back injury two years ago playing football (the same side as which is now under strain) and having foot surgery which involved local anaesthetic on my right foot (which occurred around 5 years ago). He feels that it is possible that the surgery has deadened my nerves in my right foot and played a factor in my misalignment. I am just wondering if this is plausible, although in my first session he was very throughout it just doesn’t seem that this diagnosis is all that convincing. Although I cannot provide you with specific details of my test results your general input would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      My initial reaction is similar to yours. Shoulder symptoms are not usually caused by foot or low back injuries. However your body is well connected for example if you’re walking funny because of foot pain your body can balance the poor posture all the way up using your muscles thus causing a headache. It would be a more convoluted path to the shoulder, but I can think of at least a few possible relations and so without seeing you I won’t say that the other doctor is wrong in his diagnosis, but I would demand a great deal of explanation before accepting only lumbar treatment for the shoulder issue. Good luck.

      Reply
  6. Cherie C.

    I was having some issues in my back so decided to go to my neighbor’s chiropractor yesterday. He had an electronic adjuster adjust the places he felt were stuck and then put me on electric stimulation with cold packs for 10 min and then a water massage table that was lovely. I felt amazing when I left knowing that it will return as my body adjusts but I just know that it makes sense that it will be a process which I do not mind even with the money. We spend on nonsense but if it comes to our bodies, we suddenly become tight wads.
    My question is this.. is it common to experience a night sweat after being adjusted? I want to add that I felt like I had a better night sleep than I have had in a while and barely moved all night but then had sweaty sheets. It wasn’t a huge deal but wanted to hear if there was any relation to the adjustment.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I have never heard of night sweats as a side effect of chiropractic manipulation. It is more common with hormonal issues such as menopause, or infections which cause fevers.

      Reply
  7. Cherie C.

    Crazy thing is that I have an IUD and do not get a period regularly but today I started spotting. I wonder if this is similar to the other women that have posted and perhaps it does do something to get the hormones flowing. I have to say that I haven’t slept this soundly in a long while. I truly think I am going to continue to invest in my body’s wellness by getting adjusted regularly. I loved the explanation given to me that chiropractors solve the issue and not just throw a pill at it. The rationale behind the continued treatment to fix the issue that the body gets used to being in a position so it wants to go back to it even after an adjustment until it learns the correct position seems extremely logical. Kudos to you all.

    Reply
    1. Sidra

      Cherie
      Did anyone ever respond to you starting spotyping after your visit? I started spotting after my visit.

      Reply
      1. cmnacnud Post author

        There was a reply, but I had transferred this blog to another site before it and now I brought this one back so you didn’t get to see it. If you want it is here
        Here was the summary:
        I’ve recently had a few comments on this topic. I’ve even gone back to research the topic to see if there was anything that I had missed, but I have been unable to find any correlation between onset of menstruation and chiropractic manipulative therapy. I have successfully treated patients for menstrual type pain and other related symptoms, but have not ever heard of onset immediately caused by adjustments. There are some great articles out there regarding chiropractic and the treatment of menstrual related symptoms. Here’s one nice summary type article: http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/ABSTRACTS/Female_Menstrual_Cycle.shtml I will continue to look into this issue and will create a post or get an expert to post on the topic if I find any good info.

  8. Kat

    Hello, I am having a problem with my left leg. It has been like this since birth. (left leg is an inch shorter than the other). I went to my leg doctor the other day and he says that I need an alignment to be done on the left leg, does that mean surgery?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Terminology is so different from person to person that I’m not sure what he means by “an alignment.” If your leg is truly an inch short there are limited treatments. Most of the time you will just be looking to limit the effects that the short leg has on the rest of the body. There are surgeries that can be done, but they are not usually worth it. Usually the medical community will try surgery or a specialty shoe that raises one leg. Chiropractic cannot lengthen the leg, but can help decrease other problems due to the leg complaint. Good luck.

      Reply
  9. Kathy

    My chiro said my pelvis is twisted and she worked on me and I’m still in pain, I also have scoliosis, how long before my pelvis gets better?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Every person is different, and you have the complicating factor of scoliosis, so it will take longer for you than for someone who is textbook healthy. Depending on what else is going on it may take more or less time. My answer would be to ask the doctor who examined you. If you would like a second opinion you will also need a second examination. A general rule that I go by is that acute care can relief symptoms significantly withing 2-5 weeks about 5-20 visits, then corrective care can be anywhere from 10-60 visits. So, you can see how hard it can be to say exactly how long.
      What I usually do for my patients instead of giving them a timeline I have them set goals such as being able to lift their children, or mowing the lawn, or just getting dressed. I also measure their range of motion. Then every 10-15 visits I do a brief re-exam and see how well they are doing on achieving these goals. As long as they keep making progress we keep going. If they aren’t making progress then something about the treatment needs to change. Set some goals achieve them but most of all make sure your doctor is on the same page as you.

      Reply
  10. Crystal

    I just started seeing a chiropractor and wish I would have started sooner. I have been suffering from migraines for 6 months straight. After my first adjustment the pain was relieved. Is it safe to assume that my pain will continue to be relieved?

    Reply
    1. irma

      Probably need to get adjustments for continued benefits. I know from my own experience. I need once a week adjustments and have no headaches. I missed two weeks and I am paying for it now. But started again and slowly recooperating. :-)

      Reply
  11. Amy

    I’m not sure whether to stay with chiropractic care or go to some sort of specialist. I originally started seeing a chiropractor 2 years ago for migraines. He adjusted my neck a couple of times and it was better, but he also started adjusting my back. One time he wanted to ‘try’ something and he pushed down somewhere around my mid back and the table somewhat dropped down underneath me. I know this is common practice but he didn’t warn me about it and it hurt, and I’ve been spiraling downhill ever since. Complete lower back pain, particularly on the left side, swollen around the SI Joint, pain down the left leg to the toes. An older more experienced chiropractor in the office took over my case but I only got worse. After a couple months I couldn’t wear shoes with any sort of heal at all, flats – completely flat with cushion (not easy to find, and always very expensive). I had a CT Scan and found a mild case of bulging disc and was ordered physical therapy. During this time my hip flexors started to hurt so bad I couldn’t hardly stand it. So I also went to an orthopedic doctor who found mild dysplasia left hip. He didn’t xray the right side. He gave me some stretches to do along with more physical therapy and orders to come back if the hip flexors didn’t feel better. After months of physical therapy I was only slightly better with my back. Whenever I mentioned the possibility of the SI Joint being out of whack to the chiropractor or physical therapist they would simply acknowledge it, but not really address it.

    When I got a massive migraine again that lasted all weekend, I went to a different chiropractor who did wonders for it, and also found a massage therapist trained in dealing with pain other than just muscle aches (unfortunately the massage therapist is not covered by insurance and I saw her 1-2 times/week). I went to the chiropractor often for continual neck adjustments (1-3 times a week), and still often do though not as much (1-2 times per week). I still get ‘zaps’ occasionally at the base of my skull right side. He believes this is from a disc in my neck pinching a nerve. Sometimes it settles down after one adjustment; sometimes it takes a few. Eventually it does come back and I go in for that. My bigger issue is the lower back. It was quite some time before I would let this chiropractor even try to stretch the lower back a little with his hands, now not trusting hardly anyone. Over the course of the last several months we’ve made quite a lot of improvement with movement finally happening and adjustment to the SI Joint(s). At one point, the only thing that bothered me was still some nerve sensation in my leg down through my foot. Tingling, some mild burning, nothing like it originally was though. I knew it would take some time for the nerves to heal, if they even completely would. The longest I’ve been able to go without some sort of adjustment between my neck issues or my back is 12 days, usually at least once a week though.

    However, within the last couple weeks it has all been coming back and I feel like I reverted back 4 months. Lots of stabbing leg pain, tingling, more burning sensations in the foot. I don’t know what I would have done to regress like that. Like others, I notice it is worse with monthly cycles but that isn’t the case right now. I will see my chiropractor later today and hope he can work some magic. I trust him, but I know there’s only so much that can be done. He says he’s had previous cases like this, though I don’t know if so severe. I don’t know whether to keep doing this, see someone else, or what? Are there other techniques I should try? The next nearest chiropractor I would see is 2 hours away, and a neurologist is almost 3 hours away and would take quite some time to see. Have you experienced any long term cases like this? And I don’t understand why this all came on when I never had issues other than mild back pain if I overdid things before I saw the first chiropractor.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I’m sorry to hear about your difficulty. Yes, prolonged cases with multiple conditions happen frequently. Usually the person comes in with something that they want resolved and then as that resolves they remember that they’ve also had another problem, or we discover it in an exam or something, and if not careful we end up chasing symptoms around the body. What I usually do when I find something like that happening is, I do a full physical exam to try to see what all of the symptoms are. That way I can get my head around the whole picture often these symptoms are related or all caused by a primary issue. That issue may even be something like depression, anxiety or some lifestyle activity. Those are often hard to find because we don’t think about them, and doctors don’t see a running video of your life. The one thing that I would recommend is a more thorough exam with complete imaging. If there is an SI complaint that is not resolving or responding as expected then X-rays at a minimum are indicated (bi-lateral for comparison).

      While it is not likely that one drop table adjustment caused everything it may have initially contributed if done poorly. I’m curious as to why the doctor tried that if things were already working well.

      Migraines can last a long time, and are often not fully resolved. It is usually considered a success if I can reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of the migraines. Often my treatment becomes the alternative to medication. When someone had been getting 4 migraines a month and with treatment they are down to once a month and they don’t have to take medication that’s a win even if they still have to maintain treatment. They would be on the medication for the rest of their life anyway. While it is nice to be able to find the source and remove it. Sometimes we can’t find the source. Symptom management is never the desired outcome, but sometimes it’s the best thing we can find for now.

      One thing I would recommend if you haven’t tried it already is a headache journal. Every time you have a headache you record it and then write down what you ate, drank did and felt in the past 8 hours or so. Usually what happens is that you find a pattern or a trigger something that you do, eat, or something that triggers your headache. Then when you find that you try to remove it from your life. It’s not easy, but may help.

      I hope these recommendations help. Good luck.

      Reply
      1. irma

        This is helpful even for me. And I too think if its not broke Y fix it. Unfirtunately u might have gotten hurt when ur chiro adjusted something u had no issues with. My chiro tells me everything he is doing beforehand. That way no surprises.

  12. Amy

    You have given the most information and the best so far, and I thank you for that. As far as the original chiropractor trying the drop table, I question it every single day. He had only adjusted my back maybe two times before he decided trying it. I had said well it bothers me but only slightly; next thing I knew he said ‘let me try something’ and then bam, that was it.

    I don’t have the migraines hardly anymore, thank goodness. But what I get are what I refer to as ‘electrical zaps’. Where it feels like someone electrocuted me at the base of the skull, right side. They may only last a second or two, but may repeat off and on over the period of quite some time, and sometimes wake me up.

    Your description of ‘chasing around symptoms’ is exactly how I feel. After my adjustment the other day after my original email made me feel better and I found a Bengay or Icy Hot patch near my back thigh at night helps. I still have the burning (almost tingling) sensation down my foot and/or on my toes. Drives me crazy but the pain is better. I can tell though that even though I’ve been wearing a hip brace my current chiropractor approved, it isn’t going to last.

    I appreciate all your help and willingness to respond to people. It is so hard to find anyone to at least listen and help guide patients in the right direction so they do not suffer further damage. Thank you!

    Reply
  13. Bea stewart

    Hi this is only from my experience but I had the same symptoms, I went to gp who said I had low vit d and calcium.. Took prescribed which worked for a while but then it came back, I did some research and you need magnesium to absorb the vits and the symptoms have really reduced. Have bloods taken though just to make sure..hope this helps

    Reply
  14. Ptran

    Hello, I started out with numb left leg and shocking down the same leg… Years passed by and one day I had a burning sensation in my lower back… I started to see some chiropractors and recently I have been having sharp lower back pain when I sit, stand, bend ect… Other then that it feels achy and sore. My left calve gets stiff and pressured. What could be going on? Did chiropractic care make my symptoms worst? I don’t feel better but much more worst.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Ptran,
      What your describing sounds like there is nerve involvement and probably some disc involvement to. If there is a disc herniation then an adjustment may possibly make it worse, though usually chiropractors will have good results with adjusting them if they are careful. I don’t know the whole situation, but if there is nerve root involvement and initial treatment has made it worse I would probably recommend an MRI next, as well as even more conservative care first, perhaps some decompression, or positional relief and exercises until you were able to tolerate adjustments better.
      I hope that helps.

      Reply
  15. Robin

    I winder if you can explain what something from a medical report means. To give you a broader picture, I go to a chiropractor every few months because my neck/upper back goes out, causing much muscular pain (usually the trap and deeper, and I think also the long muscles running the length of the spine). It’s usually resolved in one visit. I think my neck/upper back goes in and out very easily (a little too easily perhaps). I can twist a few millimeters or tightened a certain back muscle and I will hear and feel a pop and a change.

    Nine months ago I fell and broke my R patella, and in the fall I had a bad contusion of my L arm. I was in a wheelchair with limited movement, and once my arm healed, I briefly tried crutches, but they aggravated my neck too much. So I went to my chiro, who did the usual adjustment. But then he surprised me when the middle part of the table felt like it suddenly opened, I heard a loud bang, and I was jolted very hard, all at the same time. It hurt!! I didn’t think much of it except that I didn’t want that again. But a few hours later, my chest/rib/side area began hurting right below the breast area at the top of every breath. The deeper the breath, the more painful it was. Long story short: I was admitted to the hospital for possibly pulmonary embollism. After a CT scan and leg ultrasound, they determined it wasn’t PE. But could the pain have been due to the surprise jolting adjustment? I’m curious to know your thoughts on this.

    Also, on the final hospital report, it states:

    “Incidental SPECT/CT findings include left lingula atelectasis and sclerotic foci in the T8 vertebra, possibly bone islands.”

    I’m particularly eager to understand what “sclerotic foci in the T8 vertebra, possibly bone islands” means. Could this be related to my neck consistently going out every few months? Is it safe for me to get future adjustments? Please share any and all thoughts. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Robin, that is quite the trauma that you are going through. I’m sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time. Also, sorry to not get back to you sooner. Labor day break kept me from answering questions on here.

      Incidental findings are things that are found on the test that isn’t what they were looking for but showed up. It is usually things that don’t cause a problem, but should be noted just for future reference. Bone islands are just that they are islands of extra bone. Not true islands as they are still surrounded by bone, but they are an extra density of bone in an area of normally distributed bone. Which is a good definition of a sclerotic foci, an extra dense centralized area of, in this case, bone. They are not a major concern and in the T8 vertebra are also probably not related to the chronic neck complaints.

      I would be more concerned about the reported atelectasis, which is essentially a collapsed portion of lung. It may have been an old finding which is why it would be incidental. If they were looking for lung related pain such as an embolism, this would in my opinion be significant and not incidental. Lungs are not a chiropractic specialty, but that finding is something that I would make a referral for. The only reason that I can think of for them not explaining that finding to you was if it was known and an old injury past the point of concern.

      From a chiropractic perspective, yes a sudden unexpected jolt as you described could lead to some rib and or muscle pain in the areas that you spoke of. This could especially be the case if it was an accidental mechanical malfunction of the table instead of a planned adjustment by the doctor. Having not been there I don’t know if that is what happened. I would ask him more about it and give him a chance to take responsibility for an accidental injury if one occurred or explain the situation if not.

      Good luck

      Reply
      1. Robin

        Thank you for your explanation! That puts my mind at ease. Yes, the pulmonary doctors were monitoring me closely and thought I may have had pneumonia. They discharged me once they ruled out lung problems.

        I saw my chiropractor yesterday and asked him about the jolting adjustment. He said it had been for my hips. (I agree that sitting in a wheelchair with one leg elevated caused an imbalance.) He also said that it would not have caused pain in the chest. I still asked him not to use that adjustment for me anymore. He denied that it would have been the cause of the pain, but I tend to think it’s connected.

        I wish he would use something gentler like wedges. Before I moved, my first chiropractor would slide wedges under my hips for a few minutes, and they worked beautifully and ever so gently. I miss those.

        Anyway, thanks for your thorough response! Much appreciated!

  16. Jan

    Hi, I had been seeing the chiropractor about a year before I stopped(spine shifting,pinched nerves,back pain) and went to a physiotherapist. I found out the therapist can’t be much help either…I apparently have knots that are so bad when she works on them and sends me home, I return next appt. only to have had them worse then before or no change at all. I have them all around my shoulder blades where she can’t get them…can a chiropractor get them somehow? I’m in pain and cant get any relief. Help please? Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Jan, I’m sorry to hear about your lack of success in treating this pain. Unfortunately I can’t answer your question without knowing exactly what is going on. If they are muscle knots or trigger points then a massage therapist combined with chiropractic may be of significant help. That way you would address both the soft tissue and the joint together.

      Reply
  17. Doreen

    Hi, I was seeing a chiropracter for lower back pain, I’d suffered about 5-6 months. Dr recommended one. After initial treatment the pain was eased but she insisted I keep up the visits. After 7 sessions, not needed in my opinion I have been diagnosed with piriformis syndrome. Something I’ve never had before. I have e mailed the chiropracter to ask her opinion but I fear her treatments have caused this? I am in so much pain my life is not worth living. GP has prescribed naproxen, which I’ve stopped as I felt they don’t work, and co coda mol. I don’t like taking them as they make me feel “hungover”. Please help, I’m going abroad in 10 days and fear the plane travel. Doreen

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that you are in such severe pain Doreen. I’m glad chiropractic care was able to help you with your initial complaint. To provide you some additional information on why a chiropractor wants to see you even when you are not in pain check out this post.
      I don’t know how it could and have never heard of chiropractic treatment causing piriformis syndrome, but it is an excellent treatment of it. Essentially it is a tight muscle pinching the sciatic nerve, the best treatment for it is stretching that muscle. I have written about it before here. That post even includes a stretch that you can do to help relieve the symptoms. Massage, chiropractic adjustments and stretching are the best treatments that I would recommend. Beyond the medication that you mentioned medical doctors will also occasionally recommend injections at the site to force relaxation. Since you have 10 days I’d say that you may be able to get the pain down and manage the symptoms with the more conservative options then address it further when you return from your trip. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  18. Karen

    I took a hard fall to the shoulder years ago. I visited chirpractors throughout the years. I finally got tired of the pain & saw a bone doctor who popped my neck & scarily about pulled my head out of the socket. However, I could then popmy shouders /arm bone for the first time. I still have problems with my arm hurting though. So, I went to a chiropractor. He popped it a couple times & then put his knee up on my collar bone (I was laying on my back & applied pressure. It sent burning pain & numbness all the way from my neck to my middle & 2nd finger. Now my arm hurts constantly above the shoulder – stinging. It even hurts when I’m laying down. Coud he have possibly ripped a muscle?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Ripping muscle takes a lot of force, so while it is possible, it is not very likely. What is more likely is a nerve root irritation. I was not there to witness the procedure, and so can’t speculate regarding the mechanism of injury, but it does sound like nerve injury. If it persists then the only way to really tell will be an MRI. At this point the question is what can you do to solve the problem. I would first ask that chiropractor to explain himself. If that explanation does not satisfy then a second opinion and an MRI would be recommended. Good luck.

      Reply
  19. Sharon

    First why does my chiro popping my neck and my spine cause me to break out into a sweat?

    Second do you know of chiropractors involved in The Patriot Project?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Sharon, chiropractic adjustments do stimulate the autonomic nervous system which regulates sweating and so while it is not a common side effect, I suppose it may be one possible explanation for your sweating after an adjustment. It is also possible that you are nervous about the adjustment (consciously or not) and that can increase sweating.
      I have met a few chiropractors who were supportive of The Patriot Project. (The project advocates free care for military personnel and their families.) While I understand the sentiment and appreciate the effort that these docs are making I disagree with the method. I feel that our troops should have the care that they have been promised by congress. They have been given chiropractic care as part of their benefits and should be able to access it. If we as chiropractors give our services away for free then there is no incentive for our government to increase access for our troops. If however there is a huge outcry and demand for care from our troops, or if chiropractors attempt to bill TRICARE for the services rendered (knowing that it would be denied) then those in charge will see that the demand is there and may speed up implementation. I feel that normal citizens and chiropractors lobbying congress and the military is a better way to effect larger change.

      Reply
      1. Heather

        I am a physician liaison and do marketing/IT support for a chiropractor. That role included, at one time, insurance billing and thus, some familiarity with TriCare. Your point is well taken and I believe should be disseminated to the public and to other chiropractors who are so often “hit up” to give away their services and expertise for free. The profession is pilloried by QuackWatch and “mainstream” medicine yet the demand for and satisfaction with chiropractic is high, despite the adversity. I would no more expect a primary care physician to provide free exams at health fairs than to see a duck jump from a plane. Yet chiropractors are often so demeaned with these requests for free services which I believe perpetuate a stigma legitimacy.

  20. Anna Goens

    Hello, I have scoliosis, and was seeing a chiro for four years. All he did was to hook me to some electrical contraption that stimulated the muscles of my upper back (between shoulder blades), and a short massage and some manipulation. I saw that a new chiro office was opened in my neighborhood so I decided to consult in the hopes of getting a better treatment. I was sold instantly as the speech he gave me made me hopeful of getting faster results than I thought I was getting from my old chirop. However, my new chiro tells me that my problem is the curvature of my neck and that he needs to concentrate on the area between my shoulders. The problem is that the treatment itself is so painful!, he puts all his weight on this specific area and pushes so hard, I feel like I’m breaking. It so so bad that I automatically tense up, and he keeps saying to me to relax!. I even noticed that this area is constantly in pain, whereas this was not a problem before. He even told me to relax and started to stretch me, but I am in so much pain, even that felt like torture. I think he is way too rough on my poor body, and I have decided to quit him and go back to my old one. The problem is that I signed a contract for $480 dollars for 3 months’ treatment, and I only have paid 160 for my first month. Do I still have to pay even if I am not happy and refuse to go back to medieval torture? Please answer with some advise—IS CHIIROPRACTIC TREATMENT SUPPOSED TO HURT SOOOO MUCH???? Thank You , Anna Goens

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Anna I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience. No chiropractic is not supposed to hurt. It can at times be uncomfortable positioning or pressure, but should not hurt every time you go. Every body is different however, and one doctors approach may work for someone while not for you. The problem with scoliosis is that there is little that can be done to fully resolve the scoliosis and most treatment is designed to help you be able to have a better quality of life rather than curing you. There are some techniques that claim to be able to resolve scoliosis. The research that does show moderate improvements but never a complete restoration of the spine to normal. The chiropractor may have been trying to be more aggressive to achieve greater improvement, faster, but it was obviously too aggressive for you. If telling him this did not get him to reduce his approach then you are right to leave. You are in charge of your body. Always remember that with every type of doctor, you can always say stop. But, I highly recommend voicing your concern before you leave and allowing the chiropractor to adapt to your needs if they can.

      As far as the billing goes, you never have to pay for treatment not rendered. In Utah it is a breech of ethics to not return unused funds paid in advance. There are legal contracts and terms that I am not qualified to discuss, and I have not seen the contract, but the general answer is no you don’t have to pay for work not performed. In our office we are willing to work with you if you have to discontinue your treatment for any reason even if you have paid in advance, but there are always bad apples in any profession. Make sure that you take care of your health both physically and financially.

      Reply
    2. michelle

      I had surgery for my scoliosis n notice when he is adjusting me it really hurts in that area like sharp needles but I just deal with it.

      Reply
      1. cmnacnud Post author

        What kind of surgery did you have. Most scoliosis surgeries fuse the spine and implant rods. If that is the case then you should not be getting adjustments at a fused level. I also never recommend just dealing with the pain. Always tell your chiropractor how you feel after an adjustment whether good or bad. Please let them know.

  21. Pingback: https://chirotalk.wordpress.com/what-does-a-chiropractic-adjustment-do/ | trfamilychiro

  22. Brenda

    Sometimes after a neck adjustment I feel a warm sensation at the base of my skull….why is this and is it normal….or should I be concerned??

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Brenda, It is common for people to feel sensations similar to what you describe. Little is known about what that sensation actually is. Some have implied that it is a return of blood flow to the area. That may be true, but the increased blood flow is not due to blocked blood vessels released by the adjustment. It is more likely a type of paresthesia, an abnormal sensation probably occurring with the release of pressure on the nerves to that area. It is not something to be concerned about, but an excellent question.

      Reply
  23. annie

    Good morning. I have been in chiropractic care now for a little over a month and a half now, actually I’m at my 2nd healthcare facility due to the fact that at the first one my husband’s insurance changed at the beginning get of this year, 2015, and they’re not in our network. Anyway, I have a history of PAIN. First off I was diagnosed with optic neuritis which left me with severe migraine attacks, then came the fibromyalgia diagnosis later and after that I find out I’ve got scoliosis. First time for 10 days I was put on this table and hooked up to this stretching technique afterwards the doctor would used this little air type gun of sorts up and down my mid back then she’d use a hand held pad type thingy, and do a rotating like method.(yeah I know I’m not using the medical terminology for it but I really don’t feel like looking for the paperwork). I worked with the Physical Therapist 1 time.
    2nd facility. .. I’m now lying down with my head securely braced between 2 brackets as to not move while hooked up to leads at the base of my neck while being massaged by this machine (feels so good). After so many minutes I’m seen by the doctor to talk for a few and then he check all my points and he CRACKS Everything that needs cracking. My question is, can all of this PT be affecting my other bodily functions because I’m urinating more frequently, having a bowel movement more so than before, some times I’m doing them AT THE SAME TIME. I’d ask the doctor did he need to see the x-rays from the previous facility just so he could see how extensive my problem was he said, “well, if you want you can get them but I pretty much know what’s going on” REALLY
    MY PICTURES SHOW MY HIPS HAVE SHIFTED TO THE RIGHT
    MY NECK HAS SHIFTED TO THE RIGHT
    BONES SPURS STARTING TO GROW BETWEEN SOME OF THE VERTEBRAE
    PINCH NERVE
    Last night I was awaken in the middle I
    Of the night screaming because my left leg was having this gripping muscle spasm going on and it move down to my foot into my toes only the tingled. I couldn’t put pressure on it. My husband massaged me with the green alcohol and helped me walk until it subsided. I’m tired off pills…
    Please, what do you suggest I do.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Annie, yes the chiropractic treatment can affect your other bodily functions, though indirectly. Chiropractic adjustments will help the nervous system to function more effectively, and so you can in consequence find your body being more efficient. As far as what I recommend you do, I recommend you speak to your doctor in the same way that you posted here. Express your concern and let them address it. If they do not address it to your satisfaction then you need to find another doctor. Sometimes the answers will be that we don’t know, but you should always feel comfortable asking questions of your doctor. I cannot diagnose you over the internet, but it sounds like your case is complicated. The best recommendation from your description is to address your general health while your doctors address your specific issues. What I mean by that is you will have greater success with your treatments if you are eating right, are in the best shape possible, getting the rest you need, drinking plenty of water and have a positive mental attitude. All of those things you can work on any time and they all have a huge influence on your health overall. Good luck.

      Reply
  24. Amy

    I posted to you in 2013 and you helped me understand a great deal, and for that I thank you. I do have a new question, which is, how far up your back can you feel effects from hip bursitis? I believe that’s what I have now, even though I can’t always feel that one particular sac when I push on it. I had an injection once which helped, and I would need to go back to the orthopod for a second, but before I do I am wondering if that is, in fact, what’s making my mid to lower back ache all on one side. Everything I read talks about it affecting your leg and down to your foot (which I’ve also had), but very little talks about how it affects your back. I do go for ART treatments and stretches that are recommended for me, but the help from the treatments and stretches don’t last very long. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I’m glad I could be of help Amy. As far as bursitis referred pain goes it depends on what bursa is causing the pain. There there are many bursae in the pelvis/hip region and some can refer pain as far up the back as the upper lumbar region, though they are not likely for you. Though no body follows the textbook exactly and you may be an exception it is more likely that your hip pain is causing your body to compensate with it’s motion. This compensating motion may be causing some irritation in the mid to low back. I would recommend visiting a chiropractor to have them provide supportive care for your back while getting the bursitis under control that way you are able to maintain as much function as possible and not need as much recovery after the successful treatment of the bursitis.

      Reply
      1. Sammie Dance

        Hi, I have had 4 children and a fall about 6 years ago, I have broke no bones or had any treatment for anything ever. Apart from massage for shoulder discomfort ( not around same time as fall, years after in fact) and pain in the middle of my back, massage worked on every occasion. During one massage I was told one shoulder was slightly higher than the other, even though that was 2years ago, yesterday I went to see a chiropractor for advice for the first time ever. He agreed my right shoulder was higher, he said I was at mild risk of a slipped disk and that my left leg is slightly shorter than the right. Anyhow he did some treatment on my inside right hip, my left buttock, he cracked my top back and then my neck. Although the pain was enjoyable I felt scared because of the negative stories you hear. Last night I felt unusually stiff and this morning I have discomfort around my right hip area. He advices a treatment plan of 4 weeks. Since I had no obvious symptoms before any treatment can you reassure me to follow his advice please. Thankyou.

      2. cmnacnud Post author

        Sammie, I’m glad that you got into a chiropractor before it became noticeable in either pain or function. Pain is a lousy indicator and doesn’t always tell us where the problem is and waits until the problem is severe to tell us that there is one. Your chiropractor sounds like they are on the right track. However they should have warned you beforehand about possible side effects the next day after treatment. It is kind of like working out really hard. You get sore the next day. If your chiropractor moved some things in a way that they have not moved in a long time your body may take a while to get used to it and may be sore. I highly recommend you speak with your chiropractor about this and make sure that he takes the time to explain it until you understand. Don’t let him just gloss over things. You are responsible for your body and your health and should be informed about all of the risks and benefits of treatment before you make decisions. This is a normal reaction though, so I wouldn’t worry, but I would talk about it.

  25. Cindy

    I’ve been going for chiropractic adjustments for 3 years, every one or two weeks. I have extremely tight muscles that pull my hip out. If I go longer than a month without an adjustment, I have spasms very badly. Is this normal? Also my chiropractor places a block under my back, I ly back, face up on table and she pops my back with block. Is this normal?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      It depends on your case as to this normalcy. If you have a chronic condition that you are managing then it may be normal to receive regular adjustments that often. If however you are being treated for an injury then the MERCY guidelines suggest that you should not need more than 48 treatments in a plan. The key is that you should know the goal of your treatment and the end plan. This should have been explained to you. If the goal is to manage the pain of arthritis then coming in 1-2 times a month is significantly better than taking pain medication everyday. If your chiropractor does not have a goal then you need to sit down and discuss it. Pelvic blocking is a normal procedure though not the most common. Why have you not asked your chiropractor to explain these things to you?

      Reply
  26. Christopher

    I just told my Chiropter that an ER DR. told me that my sacrum ilac needs an adjustment, I was wandering how long before I am no longer in pain and can go back to the gym.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      If your SI joint is having problems that were noticed by an ER doc then you probably have a significant issue. I am usually able to get significant improvement with most cases within 2 weeks (5-10 treatments). While that is not always the case it is where I make my evaluation as to continue or not at that time. You will not be 100% at that time, but you should be able to start the return to normal function then.

      Reply
  27. valeria

    I recently went to a chiro,then after I had vertigo! He did a neck adjustment, and back,very first time for me! He had me come back in the next day too! The next morning,felt extra tired,super dizzy,and weak I couldn’t walk,also vomiting! Was this all due to the adjustments?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      This can occur from time to time, but it is not common. Mild dizziness would be more common, but you are talking about vertigo and nausea. The most common cause of this would be positional vertigo, which is easily treated and responds in most cases to just positional treatment. This is a symptom that you should make your chiropractor aware of first so that he can treat it if that is the cause and second so that he can monitor it as it may be signs of a more serious condition.

      Reply
  28. Richard Meyer

    I have had a history of SI pain on my left side going back 25 years. As I have got older I have needed more adjustments, and now typically I go once a week just to maintain. In the last couple of weeks my lower back seems to have gone crazy with discomfort shifting from left to right, my L5 has become aggravated, and my femur joint even shifted slightly. I have probably seen my doctor 7 times in the last 12 days. During this period of time I have been extremely careful limiting exercise to just walking the dog. I also tried some acupuncture at the same office to compliment the chiro treatments. The acupuncture seemed to make things worse although my doctor said in 10 years he had never seen a negative reaction. I am starting to feel better, but in the depths of the worst pain my chiropractor questioned if he was helping and whether there might be another underlying condition that is causing all this joint dysfunction, although I can’t imagine what that would be. Right now I am paranoid that every little movement I make could mess everything up again, and wondering if there is some other sinister issue that could be causing all this unusual frequency of joint pain?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      There are always possibilities, but most of them are so remote that they don’t warrant thinking about. If as you said you are starting to get better then I would play out your current treatment plan. If you are not and have concerns, have your chiropractor do a full examination. X-rays, orthopedic tests, a full work up. If he can find something that might easily explain the symptoms then that is probably the problem. If not then proceed to more invasive procedures to find out what might be going on. Good luck.

      Reply
  29. Terry

    Hi all, what a great page! I had my first adjustment about 4 days ago on my mid back (no X-ray). I am due to return this coming Monday but am slightly worried. The area that the chiropractor adjusted didn’t hurt before, problem was with other area of back and chest. Now the area he adjusted feels bad, one spot in particular if pressed is like pushing a giant spot on your face (that same feeling). Is this normal? Does it mean he adjusted wrong or even after 4 days it is repairing. Just feels odd that one spot that didn’t hurt does and it is centralised to a point on the spine. Any thoughts and feedback much appreciated

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Terry, the first question that I have for you is, were the original problems resolved? It is common that the source of pain is not the area that we think. Imagine a heart attack. Often the pain is in the left arm, but it’s not the arm that causes the problem. When we begin to address the real problem sometimes there is a centralization of symptoms. Like with pain going down the legs when it starts to resolve the low back which may have been the source will begin to hurt more while the legs hurt less. It is possible that your first adjustment was too much for you. Imagine what would happen if a dentist tried to put your teeth in the right place in one day instead of using braces over years. That may have been the right goal, but too fast for your body to handle. Every body responds differently. I don’t know your case specifically. I merely offer these as similar possibilities.
      My recommendation is that you call your chiropractor and let him know what is going on. He is familiar with your case and may be able to offer a simple explanation. If not then he should want to see you right away to determine what may be going on.

      Reply
  30. Terry

    Thank you very much for your reply. I do have a follown up booked on Monday. He wants to make a second adjustment higher up (posy X-ray). Actually some of the original symptoms have subsided. I was only concerned as the spot of the adjustment is now what hurts one small spot that creates lot of pain, I will of course discuss on Monday. In addition, some general tingling and nerves sensations around the body. I might just be getting anxious as you read “should be no symptoms after 24 hours”. I am sure he knows what he is doing, is based in good location in London

    Reply
  31. Faye

    I have been getting neck adjustments about 6 sessions now. I since notice weakness in my arms and legs tingling and aches. Did not have this before the adjustments. Also staring to tingle on the right side of my face as well. The right side of my neck is where the doctor using this machine with a needle point to adjust my atlas. Could this cause this tingle in my face arms and legs? If so can this be corrected?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Those are definitely neurological symptoms However having complaints in both the arms and the legs usually indicates a central lesion in the spinal chord not often associated with chiropractic adjustments, the same goes for the facial tingling the facial nerve can be affected by adjustments, but not usually. It sounds like the chiropractor is a NUCCA doctor. His adjustments may be associated with your symptoms as he is focusing on an area that could produce all of those. these types of symptoms are usually transitory and would go away on their own after a few days/weeks without nerve irritation to the area, but these are symptoms that I would definitely report to the doctor who is providing your treatment. At a minimum the report of muscle weakness should rouse his suspicions and he should try to document it. He may recommend a trial discontinuation or alternate treatment to avoid the side effects that you are having. But above all talk to him and tell him what’s going on. He can’t fix it if he doesn’t know about it.

      Reply
  32. ke&bg22

    I went to a chrio for a few weeks an it started to hurt really bad so i told him so he continued to do the same thing on my spine an shoulders an now i get cronic headache. From it i dont know what to do the headache an mussels spasm wont go away im only 24 an the pain want leave any help with help pleaseee…

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Occasionally chiropractic adjustments can cause headaches, but they are usually short term meaning only a few days. If you are having negative side effects from any treatment then of course you should stop the treatment, and try something different. As a general rule your doctor should be the one to suggest that. If the doctor continued without your permission then you can sue him for assault. The way you commented makes it sound like he did something to you without your approval or consent. If he did explain things to you and you agreed to the care and had a negative result from the treatment then you should provide feedback to the doctor and request another treatment. Were it my clinic and I was made aware that my treatment had harmed someone in anyway, I would do everything in my power to make it right. Usually that is just modifying the treatment plan. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  33. Marie

    Here’s my issue ..approximately 2 1/2 yrs ago I fell on the entrance of our trailer and hurt the right side of my back .. ended up in Emergency ..although very painful, no ribs were fractured or broken .. sped forth to now .. I have neck and shoulder issues ..chronic pain ..my body is so out of alignment that it is visible .. I have gone to phsios, massage therapists, chiropractors ( both cervical and conventional ), and am at present seeing an acupuncturist.
    I am constantly aware of my discomfort .. I need help ..any suggestions ?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Marie,
      With the information that you gave me there are many possibilities. I can’t diagnose you over the internet and it sounds like you’ve been to every type of doctor that you can for this injury. They should have given you three things, a diagnosis, a treatment plan and a prognosis. That means that they should have told you what is wrong, what can be done about it and how likely you are to get better. If you haven’t gotten those things then you need to contact them again. If you got the answer that they don’t know what is wrong with you then additional testing may be required.

      Reply
  34. Hannah

    Hello-
    I just started going to a Chiro for lower back pain and I received only a couple of adjustments. I haven’t had my period in a couple of years (very abnormal cycle) and I just got my period! Does anyone know if this could be caused or triggered by getting adjustments to my spine?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      It may be related. There is no research that I’ve seen that links chiropractic with any definite effect on menstrual cycle, but if the nerves to that area are no longer impeded then I could see a correlation.

      Reply
  35. Pingback: Chiropractors Alleviate Headaches Naturally | DR Mary Pratt

  36. Gem

    Hi
    Would love some advice. I had no injuries prior to my visit – just bad upper back pain from poor posture. I had neck manipulation as well as other things but neck manipulation is what is worrying me.
    I woke up the following day with severe neck/shoulder pain on my right side (my normal back issues are on left) and even though it is getting better, I just don’t feel right. I keep getting a burning sensation in the top of my right arm an my whole neck/upper back just feels very tight and sore. Neck feels quite weak as well.
    My bones are clicking lots too.
    Have a slight headache between the eyes but not sure if this is related.
    Am worrying as have read lots of horrible google side effects of neck manipulation,
    Can you put my mind at rest? Is this normal response to a first time?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that you have increased pain after visiting your chiropractor. I’m not sure what side effects you found on Google, but the most severe side effect, and also most rare, reported from neck manipulation is stroke and the newest studies have ruled out a causal relationship between that and chiropractic adjusting. Since it has been a few days it is even less likely that you had a stroke. As you have reported you are already getting better. It is possible that the chiropractor was more forceful that your body could handle with his adjustment. This can lead to the symptoms that you describe. In these cases the symptoms usually go away in a few days. Soreness can happen anytime you move a joint or muscle farther than it is used to, and the burning and sensation of weakness can be a paresthesia, which is usually just weird sensations due to an irritation of the nerve which is very possible when adjusting the neck.
      Since it is getting better, the advice that I would give you is to report all of these symptoms to the chiropractor and see if he can explain it to you in a way that you can understand. If he can’t then seek care elsewhere. Your symptoms do sound more severe than most people, but still within the range of normal reaction to a first time adjustment. The doctor has to get familiar with how your body responds to an adjustment to tailor it to you. If you want a second opinion then you can go to an imaging center for a catheter angiography or MRI to image the vertebral arteries. I hope that you are feeling better soon.

      Reply
  37. Gem

    Thank you – I really appreciate your reply.
    I did contact my practitioner but he kept saying give it another 24 hours which wasn’t very reassuring!
    I think you are right & my body is simply not used to being moved in this way so am feeling a little tender. It probably doesn’t help that I keep moving my neck around to see if it’s better or worse!
    I will see how I feel by the end of the weekend and if no improvement will seek advice elsewhere as you suggested.
    Many thanks

    Reply
  38. lauren

    I have been seeing a chiropractor for a few years, but only when my si joint is causing severe pain. I generally always have lower back pain though. A friend recommended I see her chiropractor for a second opinion and he said my one leg appeared shorter and that he wanted to adjust tale sacrum instead of the si joint. 24 hours later I was in much worse pain and can’t find relief in any position. Is this normal? Should I continue with this treatment plan or should I be concerned?

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Lauren,
      There are different goals for care. If you have only been treated when your symptoms flare up then you are receiving pain management rather than treatment to solve the root cause. I would have also recommended you get another opinion like your friend. It sounds like this other doctor has identified a cause rather than the symptoms. The first 2-3 treatments are almost always a trial to determine how the patient is going to respond. Since you have had a serious increase in symptoms you should return to the provider and let them know the results. They will likely spend much of their effort trying to relieve the flare up and then should modify either the intensity of their adjustment or attempt a different method that you might tolerate better.
      There is also another possibility. If this condition has been going on for many years your body may have adapted so much that trying to correct it may cause all new problems. If this is the case then you and the doctor have to determine together which problems you want to deal with. If you don’t correct it then you will likely be chronically predisposed to injury meaning that you just get treated to cope like you had been doing. If you do correct it then you may have to change the way your body has adapted and that may take a lot of work and can be painful. It also has a chance of not working.
      My recommendation at this point is to return to the provider and tell them what happened. If they are able to explain it in a way that you can agree to continue then do so. If they can’t explain it or don’t have a real treatment plan for you then I would seek care elsewhere.

      Reply
  39. Jackie

    Hi.
    I have just read your article on the controversial benefits of chiropractor treatments and found it fascinating. Namely about how it could improve the immune system. I never get colds and if I do I get the symptoms for only a few hours, then they go away. At work, the whole office could be off with bugs and viruses but I never pick them up. I often wonder why this is and wondered if it was because I get a yearly flu jab, but I have been told this shouldn’t make me stop having colds. However, I have been visiting a chiropractor now for 6 years for maintenance treatments and after reading your article, I wonder if this could be the reason.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      It could be. As stated in my article there are not conclusive studies on every aspect of our healthcare or reactions to treatment. I often tell people that if wearing a blue hat cures your cancer then by all means, wear that blue hat. Evidence based care means using the evidence that is available, and recorded observation is one form of evidence as weak as it may be. Always keep looking for more or better methods. For info on the flu vaccine see here: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectiveness-studies.htm Last year’s vaccine was 19% effective according to the CDC, so if you didn’t get the flu this last season it probably was not because of the shot.

      Reply
  40. krystyna

    I have been getting my back adjusted now for about 3 weeks. I am currently two weeks late, took two pregnancy tests that came up negative. Can getting adjusted throw your cycle off?

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Getting adjusted can affect just about anything in your body depending on how the nerves were affected. I have now heard of many reports of changes to menstrual cycle and fertility. I have not seen positive research backing up these stories, but there is anecdotal evidence.

      Reply
  41. Pingback: Advantages of Undergoing Chiropractic Treatment | Concierge Medicine Direct

  42. andy

    What are your thoughts on neck manipulations causing vertebral artery dissections? There have been plenty of documented cases of that.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      Here is a nice summary of my thoughts. http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Current_Concepts.pdf I have not seen any documented case of cervical manipulations causing vertebral artery dissections. I have heard of cases where it was claimed, and the mechanism of injury is obviously possible, but none have been proven to have a causal relationship. I look at this information combined with the most recent and complete research by the Bone and Joint Decade, an initiative of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. “There was an association between chiropractic services and subsequent vertebrobasilar artery stroke in persons under 45 years of age, but a similar association was also observed among patients receiving general practitioner services. This is likely explained by patients with vertebrobasilar artery dissection-related neck pain or headache seeking care before having their stroke.” If it was the manipulation then there would be a difference between people who visited a medical doctor and a chiropractor, but the incidence is the same.
      To add my anecdotal evidence to add to the quality research, I have neither had a patient who had such an incident in my care, nor have I, to my knowledge, ever met another chiropractor who has.

      Reply
  43. Mich

    I am 29 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child. I had hip pain during the first one in the last few months.. this time around it started earlier. I decided to go see a chiro to see if maybe there was something he could do for me.. I started treatment. 2 weeks 3 times a week for an adjustment on my lower back area. after the the first week, i noticed i was in more pain than before, my hip would pop painfully trying to move in bed. i think that adjustments were making it worse. I never had the problems im having now before i got adjusted, i would just ache.. now it affects me when i sleep, walk or just when im at work. I think im going to stop treatment and keep with just my massages as i was doing before. it has not been a fun experience.

    Reply
    1. cmnacnud Post author

      I don’t know the chiropractor that you’ve been going to, but I suspect that they have been doing rotational adjustments for the low back, causing increased strain on your hips. Especially later in pregnancy I will always recommend using a drop table with pregnancy pads. A chiropractor who has some more specialized training with pregnant patients might be a good option for you. I highly recommend that you get a second opinion from a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and pediatrics. In the mean time tell your chiropractor that your symptoms have increased with chiropractic care. They should stop or recommend a change in treatment. At the least they should be able to explain things to you in a way that you can understand. If they can’t explain the problem in a way that you understand then you need to find a new doc. Good luck.

      Reply

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