After Chiropractic Treatment Pain

(Keywords: AFTER CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT PAIN, tingling in arms and hands, hyaline cartilage, arthritis)


The majority of chiropractic patients coming for treatment have torn, inflamed, swollen or arthritic tissue that is at the heart of their condition. Stretching, massaging and adjusting of such tissues inevitably causes a degree of "after treatment discomfort or pain". It's no different for the physiotherapist, dentist, surgeon - ever had your impacted wisdom teeth out? Been to a physiotherapist given the task of mobilising a knee or ankle post-surgery? Had a friend who has had spinal surgery? Some post treatment pain is the norm. But how much is some?

Correspondence received at chiropractic help.

I am 60 years old and I have been receiving regular chiropractic care for the past two years. I started care for sciatic pain which I had on only one occasion before starting treatment. I have since had a few more bouts of sciatica but have not had any sciatic pain for over a year now. What I do have is pain in my neck, shoulders and back for 24 to 48 hours after my adjustment. Sometimes it is really unbearable but always subsides in a couple of days. I do not feel that this is a normal situation since I have never had this type of pain and achey feeling prior to care. My chiropractor says it is not related to the adjustment since it happens the day after my adjustment. Why do I have this pain and aching post adjustment?

Is this situation okay, and is it common?

My answer is an emphatic no, and personally I think this person's chiropractor is in denial. If you have unbearable pain regularly the day after your chiropractic treatment, then it is obviously related to the treatment.

But... and it's an important but, a certain degree of discomfort, and occasionally pain for one or possibly two days after an adjustment - is not uncommon. And provided the overall benefit of the treatment is clear to both parties, then it is usually acceptable. The alternative is that the chiropractor must give an adjustment that is so meek and mild that probably little is achieved.

But "unbearable pain?

How should your chiropractor react if you had this to say? How should I react?

Firstly, most importantly, s/he should take you seriously. To treat your complaints with disdain, to ignore them, to dismiss them, is unprofessional in my opinion. It's also stupid. She or he is going to lose a patient.

Reading between the lines, this patient consulted a chiropractor for lower back pain and sciatica, but the post chiropractic treatment pain seems to be mainly in the neck and midback. This raises an age-old question. Should every patient get a full spine adjustment regardless of the initial complaint? My own opinion is no, but there are many chiropractors who would disagree.

Aside at after chiropractic treatment pain.

I had a new patient this week complaining of severe midback pain of several weeks' duration. She has previously consulted chiropractors for various complaints but, if her neck is ever adjusted, she gets severe headaches for a few months. She asked me not to touch her neck, where she had absolutely no complaints.

However, she was in a car accident some years ago and clearly has silent subluxations in her lower neck. The range of motion of her cervical spine was markedly reduced for a young woman. I told her that whilst I respected her request, once the midback has settled down, I was going to ask permission to adjust her lower neck. Otherwise she is certain to get premature HYALINE CARTILAGE aging - arthritis - in the neck as happens in fact all fixated joints. Yes, it's possible that she may have significant and even unbearable headaches for a period after the treatment, though I think this unlikely. The headaches probably resulted from a ATLANTO AXIAL JOINT ANATOMY or other upper cervical adjustment which I would avoid. This person's fixations are in the lower neck. To ignore them means a great likelihood of ARM PAIN or other conditions like tingling in arms and hands, tennis elbow and rotator cuff syndrome.

But everything by discussion and with the patient's full permission. It is after all your body and you have every right to state plainly to all your doctors what they may, and what they may not do to you. We treat our patients with respect.

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Your back is fragile for a period after chiropractic treatment.

Any AFTER CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT PAIN if you ignore this advice lies at your own door! Be sensible after your treatment. If your post chiropractic adjustment pain occurs regularly after your treatment, and you haven't been playing silly buggers then it's most likely directly related to the treatment.


In the above case, I feel a little sad. Said chiropractor has clearly helped the patient with the lower back pain and sciatica. Nevertheless s/he is going to lose his patient in all likelihood. This kind of after chiropractic treatment pain is clearly not acceptable. Two adults ought to be able to speak plainly, and honestly, to one another without offense or embarrassment. The days of "I am the doctor and you are the patient, you will do what I tell you" are fortunately long gone.


Very, very occasionally a patient may have a stroke after upper cervical spine manipulation. Between one in every one to five million procedures, making chiropractic adjustments of the neck one of the safest procedures in medical science. Chiropractic iatrogenic illness ...

Is this "after chiropractic treatment pain" or....?

"I was just adjusted today for a pinched nerve on the left side of my neck. My neck also has no curve and there is s curve in my lower spine. I have felt fine all day until an hour or so ago and the things I'm feeling are a little scary.

The numbness and tingling from my ear, down my neck, to my chest. My neck also feels very hot and my throat area feels tight. Is this normal?"

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Een goeie pak sla

I've just seen a 65 year old lady who has had acute lower back pain since an extended trip overseas. Alas, that's the lot of South Africans. Our talented children go looking for greener pastures. But back to Mrs D. After two gentle treatments that produced no results, I gave her a good hiding (een goeie pak sla). Going home was very sore, and she was miz the next day, but today? 95% better. After chiropractic treatment pain is not necessarily a good reason to stop with chiropractic. But sometimes it may be!


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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr B  came initially for a painful and stiff neck and then asked whether chiropractic could help the cold numb feeling running down the side of his thigh for six months. Meralgia paresthetica is a double crush syndrome with the nerve affected in the back and groin. He's 80% improved after five treatments.

2. Mrs C has a long history of severe, disabling migraine headaches since having her wisdom teeth removed. She clenches her teeth at night. After six treatments she has no migraines but some jaw joint discomfort remains; a bite plate is in the offing.

3. Mrs U has the trophy for the worst back this year. After major surgery with plates and screws two years later she still had paresis in the lower leg and severe disabling back pain. She's doing far better than expected, in no little part due to a lift in her shoe for a very short leg.

4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.

5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.

6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of her foot. It started after a long drive in the car. After six treatments she is 60 percent better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal.

And now a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.

7. This lady is a 70 year old woman, is on maintenance care for a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection after a total shoulder replacement. After four operations he is incapacitated.

8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.

9. This man is a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. I reassured him it's not hip arthritis.

10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.

11. Mr C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.

13. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

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