Is chiropractic manipulation painful?

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Posted on 10 September 2021

You’ve decided you need to visit a chiropractor to relieve back, neck, shoulder, arm or leg pain, and you might be wondering “Is chiropractic manipulation painful?” Despite chiropractic being the 3rd largest primary health care profession in the world, after medicine and dentistry, chiropractic still seems to have a reputation for being painful, and in some instances, a risky form of treatment. The increased awareness and immense popularity chiropractic has earned in recent years is in no small way the result of social media. Indeed many people take pleasure in watching chiropractic treatments on YouTube and other platforms. Chiropractic is talked about amongst colleagues, friends and family members the world over, and yet many people are still reluctant to visit a chiropractor for fear of it hurting them. 

So what are chiropractic adjustments and does it hurt?



No, the adjustment doesn’t hurt, it actually helps a locked or injured joint move again. A chiropractor will only take the joint and the ligaments into the range of movement they can naturally tolerate, so there is no straining or spraining taking place, only a helping hand literally getting the joint moving again. Patients will occasionally report soreness during or after the adjustment, this is due to the surrounding tissues and muscles being inflamed or even injured, if you experience soreness after treatment, this is usually alleviated with a few regular applications with an ice pack. 

After treatment, you may also experience other types of mild aches and pain, stiffness, or tiredness. These are signs that your body is beginning to heal itself and adapt to the adjustments you’ve received. You can expect these minor side effects and reactions to pass after a few days. 

What are chiropractic adjustments?

What makes the adjustment seem abrupt, is, that the chiropractor applies a high amplitude thrust in to the joint to ensure it is moved which is often associated with an audible “pop”. Contrary to common belief this style of adjustment actually prevents muscle straining, whereas slower mobilisation techniques often strain the muscles in the process. Whilst the noise can be unsettling, it’s important to remember that it is completely normal and in fact indicates the joint has been properly mobilised. It is not fully understood how the “pop” is created, it’s believed it’s caused by the release of pockets of air or bubbles within the fluid surrounding your joints.

Chiropractic aftercare suggestions

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So whilst you can expect some level of discomfort after chiropractic treatment due to your body realigning, adapting, and healing, there are a few steps you can take in the hours and days after your session to help it recover more quickly. Your chiropractor at Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic in Doncaster will advise you about aftercare and any lifestyle changes necessary for maximising the benefits of your treatment. Some of the most common aftercare suggestions include:

 Resting for 20 minutes after each treatment.

Avoiding vigorous sporting activities, including gym visits and exercise classes. Gentle walking is fine and advisable for keeping the body active.

Avoiding strenuous tasks, including housework such as hoovering and ironing for 24 to 48 hours.

Avoiding hot baths for 24 hours. This is because heat may increase swelling and impact the result of treatment by altering the muscle or ligament tension

Drink plenty of water. This will hydrate your body, aiding recovery.

Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder or arm. Try to distribute weight evenly across your body.

 These simple recommendations together with personal lifestyle recommendations made by your chiropractor can help your body recover more quickly and minimise the amount of discomfort you experience.

Will I experience pain?

It must be stressed at this point that chiropractic-style manipulation is only safe in skilled hands, and before you embark on treatment make sure your chosen chiropractor is registered with the General Chiropractic Council. The Chiropractic title is protected by law and practising chiropractic without a license is illegal, whilst it’s rare, there are still “cowboys” around who pretend to be chiropractors! The Thorne Road Chiropractors are all fully trained, accredited and licensed by the General Chiropractic Council to practice. So, whilst you may be worried your chiropractic treatment may be painful, we hope the above information has put your mind at ease.

Another concern that patients occasionally come to us with is the worry of side-effects from chiropractic care. A common concern is the risk of stroke.

 Chiropractic treatment is very safe when performed by a registered and fully trained chiropractor. Whilst serious complications arising from chiropractic adjustments are very rare, they may include aggravation of an already inflamed joint or disc, micro-damage to elastic fibres in ligaments and muscle tendons. Stroke following manipulation has been reported in the medical and chiropractic literature, but there has so far been no reliable studies carried out, which have proven a link manipulation, in fact one study assessed that it would be more risky having your hair washed at the hairdresser, as the prolonged neck extension could trigger the process, and again even with this activity, strokes would very rarely occur in a healthy individual. 

Your chiropractor will take a detailed history and carry out a detailed examination, also assessing for potential risk factors and clinical markers, that may affect your particular case. If a patient for instance has a history of high blood pressure, being treated for high cholesterol, is obese or generally at high risk of suffering a stroke, your chiropractor would avoid treating the neck region, as this is the area where manipulation has been known to cause strokes. 

If a patient has a history of long use of steroids (for asthma or other) or a patient is medicated for osteoporosis, the chiropractic treatment may have to be modified to accommodate those issues, but it is by no means a reason not to treat a person, only the treatment must be modified for these particular instances.  

Apart from the above measures, your chiropractor may find that that you will need further tests including X-rays/MRI scanning and/or blood tests before commencing care. So in other words any potential risks from chiropractic treatment will be fully identified and discussed with you by your chiropractor at the time of your consultation, and only with your consent will the chiropractor proceed to take you on for ongoing treatment.

Choose registered chiropractors in Doncaster 

It is important to keep in mind that Chiropractic treatment is carried out daily on millions of people worldwide; the young, the middle-aged and the elderly – and for the most without any side-effects (mild or severe) reported. Chiropractic remains an extremely safe and very effective mode of treatment, which can be extremely helpful to many people, who would often have been through the NHS triage of medication and physiotherapy exercises, but enjoyed no relief from either.

If you’re not sure if chiropractic treatment may be suitable for your condition, still consult with one of our registered chiropractors in Doncaster, and we will discuss your case in detail prior to commencing treatment.

Contact Us

At Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic, we are passionate about our patient’s health. We have been helping people to reduce and even eliminate their pain for over 26 years, helping them become mobile and active again. Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic, serving patients within the Doncaster area and beyond. Call us now on 01302 969 501 and talk to one of our friendly team members. Or you can e-mail us here about your next step to a move active life.

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