Is Severe Pain After Chiropractic Adjustment Normal?

man feeling severe pain after chiropractic adjustment

Is Severe Pain After Chiropractic Adjustment Normal?


Many patients suffering from mild to severe neck and back pain seek chiropractic treatment intending to improve their discomfort. And while chiropractic care has excellent results in treating many types of pain, sometimes patients may find themselves feeling weird after getting chiropractic adjustments


They might experience what’s also known as “detox symptoms” such as dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches, flu-like symptoms, or muscle soreness.  


Feeling soreness after chiropractic treatment is perfectly normal. It is the body's way of adjusting to its new posture. 


But what about the patients experiencing severe pain after a chiropractic adjustment? Is that normal too? And, most importantly, if you are one of those suffering from this, what can you do about it?


Post-chiropractic Pain Is Normal Within Limits


Experiencing pain after a chiropractic adjustment is normal — as long as it’s not severe.


During chiropractic treatment, the vertebrae are moved slightly to adjust the spine into a healthy physiologic position. This readjustment affects the lumbar or cervical spine, plus the joints, muscles, and nerves around it.


The discomfort usually lasts around 24-48 hours, and the best way to manage it is to apply moist heat to the area. Don't hesitate to talk to your chiropractor about your symptoms. They can indicate the best ways to deal with post-treatment pain.


The ache level depends on the initial cause of the neck or back pain, but it should be within bearable limits. If you feel severe pain after a chiropractic adjustment that doesn't respond to heat or anti-inflammatory medicine — and lasts longer than 48 hours — you should see your chiropractor.


Why Am I In So Much Pain After a Chiropractic Adjustment?


To better understand why your body might respond so intensely to chiropractic treatment, let's go through the main reasons for post-chiropractic pain. 


As mentioned above, the pain level depends on what has caused the neck or back pain, initially.


1. Your Spine Was Misaligned And Is Now Adjusting To Its New, Correct Posture


Misalignment and subluxations are extremely common, precisely because, quite often, they do not cause pain for a very long time. The problem is that while your body becomes used to its incorrect spinal posture, you end up experiencing the long-term effects.


During chiropractic treatment, the vertebrae get readjusted to a correct position, which in time will improve your health by assuring proper positions for your nerves and blood vessels. However, you are likely to experience pain in the first 24-48 hours after treatment because of the change caused to your vertebrae. 


As long as the pain is not severe, rest assured that your chiropractic adjustment will not cause any serious damage.


2. Previously Under Stimulated Muscles Are Now Stimulated


When the vertebrae are improperly aligned, they affect which muscles are active — and which are not. Following chiropractic treatment, the realignment of the vertebrae also impacts which muscles are stimulated during movement.


When your spine's posture is correct, you use the right muscles. If this hasn't been the case for a long time, the new alignment will likely bring some changes. Post-chiropractic pain is similar to post-workout muscle pain and will subside in 24-48 hours.


3. The Nerves Are Adjusting To The New Posture


Aside from the muscles surrounding the vertebrae, the nerves also need to adjust. While the pressure on the nerves caused by misaligned vertebrae might have caused pain before the treatment and this is now relieved, the nerves still have to get used to the new space.  


Can Chiropractic Adjustments Cause Damage?


chiropractor treating patient suffering severe back and neck pain


While chiropractic adjustments may cause post-treatment pain, they do not cause damage to your spine. 


The most serious complication associated with chiropractic adjustments, which is extremely rare, is caused by the worsening of an existing disk herniation.


Chiropractors are professionals trained to assess your case and apply the correct course of treatment for your specific issue, so rest assured that you are in good hands. Your chiropractor will talk to you about post-treatment pain and help you manage it. However, in the unlikely case you experience severe discomfort after a chiropractic adjustment, you will need to reach out to them.  


Can Chiropractors Make Your Pain Worse?


In some cases, as mentioned above, you might feel worse before you feel better. But only for a short period of time. 


Just like wearing braces might sometimes be painful because the teeth are adjusting to their new and correct position, so are your vertebrae. So, in the long run, chiropractic care will relieve your pain, even though you might experience discomfort in the initial stages of the treatment.


If your chiropractor offers tips to deal with severe neck or back pain after a chiropractic adjustment, follow them, but only after getting a post-treatment assessment. 


To help your body get in perfect health and alignment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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