Pain after chiropractic adjustment

by Pam
(Morro Bay, CA USA)


Pain after chiropractic adjustment

I am being treated by a chiropractor after an auto injury to my neck the spine. They are treating me 3 times a week for 16 weeks.

It has been a month and over the weekend I was feeling a lot of pain on and around my right shoulder blade so Monday when I say my doctor I told him about it and he did a different type of adjustment and it took the majority of the pain from that area and moved it to my front upper right chest area.

Now I have very sharp pains in that area that I have been there since my visit Monday so today when I went in I told him about it and he did another type of adjustment, and mush milder and I am still have the same sharp pains in my right upper chest area. What is causing this pain?

Hello Pam
Mm, I'm going to get myself into trouble with your chiropractor if I tell the truth, the whole truth...

It's never been researched, so this is my OPINION only. It's not based on fact, but simply my experience after 33 years in the field. So, take it with a pinch of salt if you please. Especially as I have no idea what the treatment consists of. Some treatments are much more gentle than others, and more treatment is okay.

Frankly, if you are having manipulation, which is what I do, and most chiropractors do, then I think you are being grossly over-treated.

Like I said, it's never been objectively researched, but my opinion, for what it's worth, is that 25 manipulations of one joint in a year is max, and probably too much.

I don't know whether you are having manipulation, and perhaps s/he is manipulating different joints, so it's not T1 every time, for example, often affected at the junction of the neck and midback in whiplash.

The T1 nerve root radiates according to the pattern above.

I wish I could advise you better, Pam. I'm a great believer in gut feel. Is your doctor thorough, examine you each time, caring, listen to you? Or is it a rat-race, in and out in five minutes?

Follow your instincts.

I hope this contributes. I fear I may have opened a Pandora's box here!

Dr B


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Aug 18, 2017
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Chest pain after PT midback manipulation
by: Deborah

I have been seeing a physical therapist for upper back stiffness. After the manipulation which he put pressure on my upper back spine area pressing along the spine, I returned home. I did bend over to pull a few weeds for 10 minutes and when straightening up a horrible ache came across my upper left rib area toward the front of my chest. When I took a breath, it hurt. I applied ice pack and took Advil and it did go away. It scared me and I am hesitate to return for further treatment.

My back has been sore for 2 days. Physical Therapists do similar treatment to chiropractic but usually use less pressure and depth I am told.

Hello Deborah,
You have entered a mine field here! You are asking me to comment on the manipulation done by a physical therapist. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Having said that, pain with deep breathing is usually associated with a rib subluxation, and very occasionally a fracture. A heavy manipulation in the midback can certainly do this, and yes, it can happen after a too enthusiastic chiropractic adjustment too.

This may also set the scene for a costochondrosis if its affecting the breast bone area.

This is the reason that I as a chiropractor give only very light adjustments, from posterior to anterior, in the midback, and use rather what we call an "anterior thoracic" adjustment.

Lastly, after a manipulation by a PT or adjustments by a DC, or any other treatment for that matter, you need to be extra careful for the rest of the day, and sometimes for several days depending on the condition.

If overall you've been getting benefit from the PT treatment, I would continue, but talk very frankly to him about this severe reaction you had. If he doesn't take your concerns seriously, go elsewhere.

Dr B

Jul 07, 2017
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Scapular pain after back adjustment
by: Anonymous

I've gone to a chiropractor about 5 times in the last week and a half for adjustments on my lower back due to an injury. He does the adjustment where I lay on my side with my arms crossed and he puts his knee on me and effectively "cracks" my lower spine. It's never caused an issue before (as I went to him a year or so ago for low back pain and he did the same adjustments) but this time, during the last two treatments, I got a sharp pain in the shoulder blade I was laying on (each one) when he put his weight on me to do the adjustment. Afterward my arm feels kind of limp for a few seconds and my muscle feels a bit sore. He's not sure why it hurt me and didn't seemed too concerned. He did manipulate my arms and asked if it hurt while doing certain manipulations, but didn't really say too much about what caused the sharp pain that honestly sorta feels like an injury.
Should I have him avoid those adjustments and do some strengthening exercises for the muscles around my scapula before
attempting that treatment again? I'm asking here because he didn't
really give me much insight.
Thanks!

Hello,
It's always a potential problem, and I suspect there isn't a chiropractor alive to whom this hasn't happened. I now take a much broader contact on the chest, on your arms, and give no thrust on the arms; it's just a stabilising hand.

There's always the unconscious tendency to give a little extra thrust with that hand on the rib cage. Just make sure each time before the thrust you give him a little reminder to be gentle with your ribs.

I hope it settles down. In the past, when I've caused an injury, I treat that until it settles with no charge, but of course he may think differently.

I hope this contributes; talk frankly to your chiropractor about it. If he won't, and is in denial, vote with your feet and go elsewhere. We have to be mature about such things.

Dr B


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» Scapular pain after back adjustment





Oct 02, 2016
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Pain in left
by: Mrs. T

On 09/29/2016 I had chiropractic adjustment on neck and upper left shoulder areas. The next day I began experiencing pain in my left hand. Pain has become unbearable what should do to ease the pain.

Hello Mrs T,
You offer very few details of what your problem is, so it's difficult for me to comment.

Which fingers are being affected? Do movements of your neck increase the pain in your hand? Is the "upper limb tension test" positive? Find it at Chiropractic Help using the search function.

Some after treatment pain is not uncommon but if you didn't previously have any radiation to the arm then it is a concern.

The pain in your hand may be quite unrelated; it's fatuous to suggest it, but you get the drift, if you hit your left thumb with a hammer this morning you would have "unbearable" pain in the hand.

Give me a lot more detail for a cogent answer.

Dr B

Nov 12, 2013
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manipulation should NOT be painful!!!!
by: manual therapist

I am osteopathic trained. I have studied chiro "adjustments" and have discarded the techniques as being too non specific,as to level and almost always bilateral. (if your car right front tire is flat why repair the left front tire and the back tires. This does not make anatomic sense. Beware the chiro that causes pain during or immediately after treatment! in my 50 years as a spinal specialist, the techniques have not flared a patient, nor have the techniques been painful. Find another practitioner and consult a medical doctor for tests. You may have something that contraindicates the spine being manipulated. You only have one neck. Treat it with care.

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

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. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

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.



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