After chiropractic treatment pain

After chiropractic treatment pain is not uncommon.

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; have you ever had your impacted wisdom teeth out or been to a PT given the task of mobilizing 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 achy feeling prior to care. My DC says it is not related to the treatment  since it happens the day after my adjustment. Why do I have this pain and aching after chiropractic care?

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.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 5th December, 2018.

After chiropractic treatment pain

After chiropractic treatment pain but how severe and frequently is acceptable?

A chiropractor performing a lumbar roll.

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 consultation. If your post chiropractic adjustment pain occurs regularly after your appointment, and you haven't been playing silly buggers, then it's most likely directly related to the care.

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 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, and 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 personal medical insurance and the no cover option make for interesting reading. It's worth a thought if you're totally committed to healthy living. Then if you have serious after chiropractic treatment pain you won't be at sea; nor if your surgery goes awry. Most likely of all is that you have a severe drug reaction; it's the third most common cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

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 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 have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is 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 is 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 pain-free. 

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 is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has 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 stroll 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; he has a short leg.

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. X-rays 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 few months 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 is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year 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 could not 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 should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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