(Daytona Beach, FL)

Is it normal or okay to have more pain after an adjustment than before I had it? I had an adjustment yesterday and my lower back was very "stiff". He did his adjustment and when he was done I was in extreme pain and could hardly walk. He said it was because the muscles didn't know what to do yet....Today, I am still in pain, although it is better, and cannot bend to put on shoes or socks...I have never experienced feeling worse after an adjustment and this is a new Doctor, so I am just curious if this is really acceptable...

Dear Friend,
A certain amount of "after-pain" lasting perhaps up to 24 hours is not uncommon. Longer than that is certainly not acceptable. Well, let's be gracious and say two days.

But acute, severe pain after the treatment is surely not the norm, but yes it does occasionally happen. It's one of the reasons that the wise doctor is fairly conservative and gentle in the initial phase of treatment until s/he get's to know the patient's back. Each is individual and has its quirks.

You say it is improving, so I wouldn't be too anxious at this stage. You make no mention of increased leg pain, that I would consider in a more serious light.

In the meantime, use ice for pain-control (an icepack in a tea-towel for about 20-30 minutes), try not to bend, be careful not to sneeze (blow your nose if you feel a sneeze coming on), sit less, perhaps much less.

One last thought: after the treatment, your back will be vulnerable for at least a few hours and sometimes a day or two. You didn't do anything silly immediately after the treatment? Sometimes the doctor gets the blame, but in reality the patient sneezed, or went and played a game of golf...

Discuss this thoroughly with your chiropractor at the next visit. If you feel he does not take your concerns seriously, then I would go elsewhere.

To be quite honest, every back is unique, and the clinician has to work that "this works" and "that makes it worse". Provide you feel s/he is thinking, considering, taking his time, be patient. If you are being rushed in and out, no examination, no history, (take a look at his notes: does he write down exactly what tests were positive and how he treated you?)

In short, is he conscientious, thorough and careful with your body. You obviously have been to other chiropractors before, so you know what I mean. If the answer is yes, then be patient... if not, well you know what to do. Vote with your feet.

I hope this has contributed.

Dr B

PS: I don't buy that "the muscles don't yet know what to do".


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Jan 14, 2011
Doesn't seem right..
by: Anonymous

In my experience of over 25 years going to chiropractors, when I'm worse after an adjustment, something was wrong w/ the adjustment. My own beloved chiropractor that I've been seeing exclusively for many years now (after a few tries with some not-so-good ones first) does not adjust my low back because when I have had him do so on a few occasions I felt a lot worse so I just leave that area alone. Luckily I don't have much trouble there.

My trouble area is my neck and there are times he can fix it on one visit by adjusting 1-2 vertebrae but sometimes he goes overboard and moves them too far or in the wrong direction. I know by the next day (never longer than that) if the adjustment was correct or not. If not I call and go back and since I know and trust him I will return until he gets it right. Which he always does (sometimes right away sometimes after a few visits).

If what's happening to you is muscles, then ice or ibuprofen would ease the pain. Does it? If not, my guess is he did the adjustment incorrectly or something. Low back seems to be a tough area for many chiros to get right (just from my experience). He may not be a good chiropractor for you (since you said he's new). You might want to go elsewhere if you aren't feeling better very soon.

Just my opinion, take it or leave it! Good luck.

Every spine is unique, one responds well to adjustments, another to Thompson drop protocol, some to traction, some to massage, some don't get better with anything that I can do, and very occasionally someone may get worse.

They don't call it a "practice" for nothing. We practise on you, dear patients! Seriously though, if Michelangelo could say at 85 "I'm still learning" then that's good enough for me. Few of us were much good in our first months, and for some years in practice, I certainly wasn't. It takes a lot of acumen, judgement, skill, wisdom to be a good doctor, and that applies just as much to a chiropractor as a surgeon, a gynacologist... and most difficult of all your family doctor. They have to be a specialist of the whole body.

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