Pain and aching post chiropractic adjustment

by Judy Grodsworth
(Val-Des-Monts, Quebec, Canada)

Hi, thank-you for giving me the opportunity to ask a question. 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.

I have no health problems, do not take any prescription medications, am not overweight and am involved in physical activity on a daily basis. I also follow a healthy diet and take nutritional supplements. Why do I have this pain and aching post adjustment??

Thanks for your help.
Warm regards,

Hello Judy,
A certain amount of discomfort post-adjustment is not unusual and, provided it subsides within a day or two, we're generally not too concerned.

However, "unbearable" pain for a few days is another matter, even if it subsides after a day or two.

My suggestions: tell your chiropractor that you have really quite severe pain after the treatment. It's almost certainly related to the treatment if it occurs regularly within a day or two of the adjustment.

Ask him to be more gentle.

If, between the treatments you are having minimal problems, then space longer periods between the treatments.

If you have little or no neck problems, ask him to leave your neck alone.

On the day of the treatment, be extra careful. Your back is vulnerable on the day of a treatment, it's not the time to start spring cleaning! People sometimes are sore the next day because they did something silly, but if it's happening regularly, this is almost certainly not the case.

An ice pack on the tender area will help relieve the after-adjustment discomfort and pain.

Speak directly to your chiropractor, even forcibly. If he's not listening, vote with your feet! However, it does sound like he has really helped you, so it's with reluctance that I would suggest you go to another chiropractor.

I hope that all contributes, perhaps even print this out and take it to him!

Dr B

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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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