Do chiropractic adjustments hurt?

Kyle True, DC
Chiropractic Medicine
Chiropractic adjustments usually do not hurt. Adjustments to certain joints in the spine or extremities may feel slightly uncomfortable or pressure, but once the adjustment is performed you should not feel pain. In general, patients enjoy being adjusted and like the way that the adjustment feels. The adjustment also helps relax the patient.

If it is your first time ever being adjusted, you may experience slight soreness or discomfort for 12-24 hrs. following the first adjustment. This is relieved by ice and stretching and will subside if it happens at all. Most Doctors of Chiropractic will inform their patients that in response to their first adjustment it is very common to feel sore or "like you worked out" type of discomfort following the adjustment. The adjustment helps restore the alignment of the spine and puts motion back into the joint that is hypo-mobile (not moving in its full range of motion) this stretches tissues (muscle, tendons, ligaments) that have been fixed or tight before the adjustment and in general when you feel that soreness this is typically why. You are breaking up adhesions that have restricted the joint and stretching the tissues that are causing some of the pain/symptoms the patient having previously. 

You should discuss chiropractic treatment with a doctor before initiating to be sure it's safe and appropriate. Seek medical attention if you experience persistent pain or other associated symptoms such as numbness/weakness.
Adjustments are usually pain-free, but can become uncomfortable depending on the amount of inflammation and tension in the affected area. Some clients notice mild tenderness and/or tension as their body's alignment is restored; these feeling of tenderness are normal. Other clients experience an immediate relief from their symptoms. However, if you experience persistent pain or other symptoms like numbness, seek immediate medical attention.
Gerald M. Silverman
Chiropractic Medicine
While there are several other programs and techniques that are designed to increase joint movements, only spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) has gone through rigorous, controlled studies and been proven to favorably affect patient outcomes. Using carefully applied, gentle forces, spinal manipulation strives to increase motion in restricted joints that will stimulate sensory nerves and block the production of pain. SMT has also been associated with the release of the body’s own natural painkillers, endorphins. Studies have shown that SMT is an appropriate, safe, and effective therapy for joint and disc pain (Agency for Health Care Policy and Research 1994). Almost all physician treatment guidelines for neck and back pain now give SMT a favorable rating but caution that it should be performed only by a well-trained and experienced practitioner, usually a chiropractor or specialized physical therapist. Years ago, some doctors and patients were skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of manipulation, but it is now widely embraced. 
Jason Peloquin, DC
Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic adjustments, when done to the specific subluxation, and using a correct vector to restore the limited range of motion, very rarely hurt and almost immediately have a postive effect on a patient's symptoms.  Of course, the severity of inflammation as well as muscle spasm may play a role in the resistance to an adjustment.  This is why it is important that the adjustment be done with high velocity and a low amplitude.

Usually after an adjustment a patient may feel a warm sensation or tingly throughout their body.  This is thought to be from increased endorphins being released and an increase in vascular activity post chiropractic manipulation.

When choosing a chiropractor it is important that he or she be specific in their approach and practice short lever adjustments.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.