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

Find a good chiropractor may be your next step.

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Jun 05, 2024
Left sided chest pain after neck/back adjustment
by: Anonymous

Hello I’m experiencing sharp/dull left sided chest pain as a result of getting my neck/back adjusted today. The left side of my chest hurts to the touch and when I breathe or move. Is this normal? The pain has been constant

Sep 16, 2021
Chiropractic slang
by: Anonymous heritage

Does the massages help chiropractic

Oct 31, 2018
Severe Chest pain after treatment
by: Lynn

I'm a 54 year old healthy female who developed RH lower back pain 2 months after a car accident. My family doctor recommended a chiropractor. Never been to one before, nor needed to. So...had my first treatment yesterday, she was able to isolate the area very well and recommended a course of treatment. She then had me lay face down and did something with a popping "tool" down a few areas of my spine, RH side. It was fine, didn't hurt. But this AM, I woke early and had searing pain in my right chest wall area, from my sternum over, was impossible to take anything but a shallow breathe, and it was severely painful. Took an Ibuprofen and it was much improved a couple of hours later, but even now, when I take a deep breathe, there's pain in my chest. I called her, she seemed surprised and could only say that my body must have just reacted this way to the treatment, she'd never seen/heard that before. Not sure if I should continue...advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

Hello Lynn,
Apologies for not seeing this sooner; you tagged onto someone else's thread instead of seeing your own.

I confess I'm surprised too because it appears your chiropractor used what is known as an activator; it's a very low force technique; perhaps not as low as I realised.

Any overly robust adjustment of the midback has the possibility of disturbing the costo-sternal joints adjacent to your breastbone; and even cracking a rib. It's known as iatrogenic, or doctor-caused, disease; most chiropractors will admit to having caused this pain. I certainly have, probably at least a dozen times in 38 years in practice; it's rare; once every few years. But with an activator?

I would ask your chiropractor to leave your midback alone, use alternating ice and heat over the painful area, pray you don't get a cough and just generally be careful; it will almost certainly pass in a week or two.

Make sure you get some lower back exercises for the LBP.

I hope this helps, and again apologies for the delay.

Dr B

Feb 15, 2018
Left upper chest pain
by: Anonymous

Hi there. I was adjusted briefly in the neck and jaw area today, during a business meeting with a chiropractor group. I'm now having non reproducible left upper chest pain upon inspiration. The acute onset of pain symptoms began within 45 minutes of the adjustment. The kicker here is; I have hyperthyroidism secondary to the big, fat, new friend on my thyroid that we shall call Mr. Tumor. The pain is on the same side as my friend. The other kicker is I'm trying to fight off the horrible respiratory bug going around. It could be the flu or just a nasty, nasty virus. I treat my illness all naturally with essential oils, lymphatic detox, and vitamin & mineral replacement therapy. I'm hoping for a common reason for the resp?? pain, so my ER RN BSN experience will stop worrying that I threw a clot. At first I thought pleuracy from releasing toxins and fluid that became trapped in my, already inflamed, pleural lining, but the acute onset worry me for that. If still imagine it would be acute but starting mild and getting worse on the pain scale, as the tissue became more inflamed with each breath. Rather, it's been the same 8/10 pain since the first deep breath 45 minutes after cracking my neck.

Mm, I'm not convinced of the wisdom of having a consultation during a 'business meeting.' If it had been surgeons rather than a chiropractors, would you have asked one of the doctors about this or that? Likewise I personally wouldn't treat anyone in the circumstances as, almost certainly a proper full and thorough examination and history would not have been done. Right?

Pain on inspiration is unusual after a neck or jaw adjustment. Was your midback also treated? That certainly could have produced these symptoms.

I doubt the thyroid is involved, but certainly if you are coughing, spluttering and sneezing, that could easily have subluxated a rib which produces the typical pain on deep inspiration. But obviously if all started shortly after the treatment, you think that was the cause.

Honest truth, I have no idea being unable to examine you. If you are running a fever and sick then presume that is the cause. If not, I'd phone the chiropractor concerned and tell him what you've written here.

Let me know; I'm curious!

dr B

Feb 14, 2018
Right arm pain
by: Anonymous

I had a chiropractic adjustment yesterday as my rib and t1 were stuck off to the right for a couple weeks; it's been over 24hours and the pain in my shoulder and arm is really bad. Is this normal and do you have any advice for what I can do to lessen the pain? Should I stay away from heating the area (hot tub etc)?
Thank you

There's great difficulty distinguishing between what is normal after treatment discomfort, and an adjustment that has actually aggravated the problem.

You don't state whether your arm was painful before the treatment; if not I as a practitioner would be concerned about the adjustment I had given.

In any event, if you've been sore for weeks then some follow up treatment is called for, and you should frankly discuss these concerns with your chiropractor. If he or she fobs you off, vote with your feet and decline further treatment.

As a rule of thumb, acute conditions need ice rather than heat, or at least alternating ice and heat.

Meantime be careful and sensible, don't carry heavy parcels in that right arm, and ignore any thoughts of spring cleaning for the present.

I hope this contribues.

Dr B

Jan 29, 2018
Looking for help
by: Anonymous

I'm in my early 30's; I've dealt with pain for a long time. The doc wanted me to try to go to a chiropractor. I have phase 3 degenerative disc disease and scoliosis; my neck isn't too good either. I've had an adjustment 4 times now; each time after I feel good mentally; I get tingly arms and hands that feels good.

But I feel as if my pain is so much worse. It's so unbeatable; I'm not sleeping and my hands are in so much pain.

My neck hurts more then ever and just my whole back is in pain . I don't know what to do.

Looking from a distance, with no chance to examine you, I have four comments.

1. Are you doing back exercises every single day? Best is before getting out of bed in the morning. In fact everyone should do this, but specially those with scoliosis? Do whatever you can to help yourself.

2. Has anyone ever looked at your leg length; it's a major cause of scoliosis and a simple lift in the shoe can work wonders. But scoliosis is a complex subject and sometimes a lift may help the pelvis but aggravate the curvature. Also whether it should be just a heel lift, the whole shoe, inside or below.

3. What's your diet like? If you eating crap no treatment will help. Think about an anti-inflammatory diet. This is especially true seeing you have marked disc disease in your thirties, and pain in your hands.

4. Rome wasn't built in a day and nor will a serious problem like yours, not by a chiropractor or anyone else. Having chosen someone to work with, stick with him until it's clear he's not helping, not listening to you.

What's your Cobb's angle? Ask.

Dr B

Food and inflammation

Aug 18, 2017
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
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.

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

» Scapular pain after back adjustment

Oct 02, 2016
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
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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