Questions/Answers About Chiropractic Adjustments

Seven questions and answers about chiropractic adjustments.

Many people have questions about spinal adjustments. Here are some answers to the most common questions:
Question and Answer Blue Dice As Symbol For InformationAnswers to common questions about chiropractic care for back pain or neck pain. Photo Source:

Do adjustments hurt?

For most patients, chiropractic adjustments are painless. Some patients who are new to chiropractic treatments may involuntarily stiffen or resist the adjustment and feel a small amount of discomfort until they are able to relax during treatment. In addition, mild discomfort may be felt if the patient has had a recent trauma, such as whiplash, due to inflammation. However, many patients report a feeling of relief, calmness, and a sense of well being after the adjustment; others feel improved mobility.

What is the noise I hear during an adjustment?

When your vertebrae are adjusted, tiny pockets of gas are released from the joints, making a "popping" noise. It's the same sound you hear when you pop your knuckles. Not all patients hear this noise. It's not a sign that the adjustment is working or not working.

Are adjustments safe?

Dozens of research studies have documented the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments. They are significantly safer than taking medications or having spine surgery. Research shows complications from chiropractic adjustments are rare and random.

Can I adjust myself?

No. This is dangerous. Chiropractic adjustments need to be performed by a skilled professional.

Can other types of professionals also perform adjustments?

Yes. Some osteopaths (DOs) perform these techniques (but this is rare these days). However, Chiropractors perform 95% of all adjustments in the world. Be careful of physical therapists, massage therapists, or "healers" who make similar claims but do not have the credentials, qualifications, and experience of a chiropractor.

What types of conditions do chiropractors use adjustments for?

Chiropractic adjustments (a precise method of restoring proper movement) are very useful in correcting:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, hands, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, feet
  • Certain types of headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Injuries and trauma to the body such as whiplash
  • Scoliosis
  • Leg pain and nerve disorders
  • Sports injuries and most muscular skeletal injuries such as tennis elbow, strained muscles, and sprained joints and ligaments
  • Bursitis and Tendonitis (conditions involving inflammation of soft tissues)
  • Repetitive strain disorders such as carpal tunnel
  • Fibromyalgia (chronic muscle pain and stiffness)
  • Arthritis

What if I need surgery?

Chiropractors believe and emphasize that the first response in most illnesses and injuries should be conservative care. However, chiropractors are also trained to recognize when an injury is outside of their scope of practice and will refer patients to the appropriate medical specialist if necessary.

Updated on: 09/24/19
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