Do Chiropractic Adjustments Hurt?

Not typically. Pain during or after an adjustment is fairly uncommon. Sometimes there is a bit of discomfort in the joint during or after an adjustment. This discomfort usually lasts for a short duration and usually is mild (and sometimes described as "like I just worked out the muscle").


There are a few things you can do to reduce your likelihood of pain during and after an adjustment. First, make sure you're going to a chiropractor or perhaps an osteopathic doctor; chiropractors are the most skilled and trained in spinal manipulative (thrust) therapies (adjustment). Second, make sure that your chiropractor has performed a full exam; don't go to a chiropractor that schedules you and adjusts you on the first visit without doing an exam. Thirdly, relax during the adjustment. A lot of times, the pain during an adjustment happens when a chiropractor adjusts/thrusts through a spastic muscle caused by a patient not relaxing. So relax!

There are times where a chiropractor will say, "I expect this will hurt a bit" or "I expect this will be slightly uncomfortable" or even "this is really going to hurt." For example, I had a patient whose boyfriend tried to adjust her and in the process ended up throwing an anterior rib out of alignment. She was in tears coming to see me. When I did the adjustment (an exception to the "don't adjust on the first day-rule"), I told her it was going to hurt a lot. And it did. But then she immediately felt better starting the second after the adjustment. She stopped crying (she was crying before the adjustment) and was able to breath with manageable pain. There are a few adjustments which are innately achy. I would estimate that out of about 100 adjustments, I am going to warn about mild discomfort about 2-3 times. Severe pain is something I warn in probably 1 in 5,000 adjustments (it's not really even 2-3 times per year in my office). Even the most serious chiropractic complaints are relatively easy to adjust without pain. That includes patients with severe low back pain, slipped discs, etc.



Refer: Chiropractic: Is it Efficient in Treatment of Diseases?

Outcomes of usual chiropractic, harm & efficacy, the ouch study


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