After Chiropractic Treatment Pain

Keywords; after chiropractic treatment pain, tingling in arms and hands, hyaline cartilage, arthritis.

The majority of patients coming for care have torn, inflamed, swollen or degenerative tissue that is at the heart of their condition. Stretching, massaging and adjusting of these structures inevitably causes a degree of discomfort.

It's no different for the physiotherapist, dentist, and surgeon; ever had your impacted wisdom teeth out? Been to a PT given the task of mobilising a knee or ankle post arthroscopy? Have you a friend who has had spinal plates and screws fitted? Some discomfort is the norm. But how much is acceptable?

Here's some correspondence received.

I am 60 years old and I have been receiving regular chiropractic care for the past two years. I started needing help for sciatica which I had on only one occasion before starting treatment. I have since had a few more bouts of leg pain but have none 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.

Here's an 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 should be by discussion and with the patient's full consent. 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 you with respect.

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.

Like mature adults, let's discuss things.

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?"

Personal Medical Insurance

A few thoughts from me on the benefits of insurance and the no medical insurance option. It's worth a thought if you're totally committed to healthy living.

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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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mrs B has had one of the nastiest of conditions; vertigo caused by a disturbance in the inner ear. Falling repeatedly and vomiting she consulted her doctor but medication didn't help. After two sessions of the Epley manoeuvres she was 50 percent better. After two weeks she was 75 percent improved; no longer vomiting or falling. She's not enjoying the Brandt Daroff home exercises.

2. Mr S, a 48 year old man, has right low back pain, groin pain and a numb feeling in his lower leg when he sports. For six months he's been off football. He too has two problems; a very treatable lumbar facet syndrome and a very serious blocked artery in the groin; it's called intermittent claudication. Smokers beware.  

3. Mr S looks like the leaning tower of Pisa; he has a slipped disc at L5 making him lean towards the opposite side. It's called the postero lateral disc hernia; we'll fix it, but he has to stop for a week or two. Antalgias are serious so take them seriously. 

4. Mrs V too has two conditions; a chronic low grade sciatica giving her an ache in the right leg, and a threatening Morton's neuroma. She's glad I'm back in Holland; chiropractic fixed it before, and we'll fix it again. 

5. Mrs W is one of the lucky ones, says her doctor. I agree. He says only 40% of patients with lumbar stenosis have a successful operation. We fixed a nasty slipped disc three years ago, but it came back two years later; the surgeon did a fine job but she has a weak ankle now giving her subtalar joint pain; it's routine stuff. 

6. I myself had an acute exacerbation of a femoral nerve lesion last year. One immediate treatment of the new strain by my colleague has fixed the pain in the lower back, but there's some residual numbness in the lower leg; no soaring tomorrow alas.

7. This lady is a 86 year old woman with a 63 scoliosis. Chronic lower back has been her lot in life but she's well pleased with chiropractic and comes for chiropractic help once a month; some conditions you can never cure.

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. A 61 year old man with upper cervical pain yesterday; it's not severe but also not getting better of its own accord. He's afraid it may turn very acute as when I treated him three years ago. Since then it's been fine. 

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. Mrs 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. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

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

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

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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Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.

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