Are Chiropractic Adjustments Painful?
Are Chiropractic Adjustments Painful?
Whether or Not Chiropractic Treatment is Painful is Often a Topic of Conversation, Especially for People Who Are Considering Chiropractic for the First Time.
I personally have painlessly delivered tens of thousands of chiropractic adjustments in my 30 year career as a chiropractor with no major complications. I have adjusted babies a few weeks old to patients 100 years old. Have some patients experienced discomfort while being adjusted or after? Of course, a small percentage of people may experience an increase in pain very briefly as tender tissues are manually moved. It is usually fleeting and very manageable. The majority of patients feel relief and no “after soreness” at all.
Comparing Dentistry and Chiropractic
Let’s put this in perspective. Say you have a painful tooth due to a cavity. Your dentist examines you; he or she are probably going to so some things in the exam that cause discomfort and even pain to find out what the problem is. Same with a chiropractic exam; there may be some discomfort as your chiropractor locates the cause and extent of your problem. It’s a necessary means of diagnosing you.
If you’ve had a cavity you know what comes after the exam at the dentist’s office. In order to “drill and fill” your damaged tooth, you will need an anesthetic shot. That can be a moment of exquisite pain necessary to allow the dentist to do their job, but it’s over quickly. A chiropractic adjustment is similar. The adjustment is usually very quick and if you are in pain because of an injury like a car accident, you may experience an extremely brief (1-2 seconds) of pain during the adjustment. Very, very few people cannot handle the level of discomfort and remember it is a minority of patients who do experience more than mild discomfort during an adjustment even after an accident.
After your filling, your dentist may prescribe an anti-inflammatory or tell you to use ice because after the anesthetic wears off, you will feel pain for a few hours to a day after. After your chiropractic adjustment, you may feel some soreness, usually a feeling like you worked out too hard. With a warm shower and some stretching, this “after pain” is usually relieved.
Over the course of a few adjustments, the adjustments become easier because you are used to it and your bones are beginning to unlock and there is generally no after pain.
Now the final comparison between dentistry and chiropractic. Have you ever had a dentist that was clumsy with the shot or hit your tongue with the drill or was brusque and ignored you when you said it was too uncomfortable? In my opinion that is a dentist who is lacking in competence and/or patient empathy. The same can be true of chiropractors. Not everyone is good at what they do. Most are “average.” Therefore, I have had many cases where someone says “my adjustments have always been painful with my former chiropractors and I am afraid to have you adjust me.” After I empathize with them and describe how I will proceed with great care and gently adjust them, they are more relaxed. And when I provide a painless adjustment that makes them feel better, they are amazed that it doesn’t have to hurt.
What if repeated adjustments are painful?
Sometimes chiropractic adjustments do cause discomfort or pain, but it is usually very brief and tolerable. If your adjustments are consistently painful and you suffer more after your adjustment than before, there may be a problem. It’s possible you have an underlying problem that should not be adjusted for the time being. Sometimes after a car accident, the tissues are too sensitive and need time to heal before trying manual adjustments. Severe inflamed arthritic joints, joints with severe ligament damage, disc injuries that are compressing nerves can all result in more pain during or after an adjustment. A competent chiropractor will recognize this and alter their treatment plan. There are other things that can be done to help alleviate pain and then re-attempt adjustments later. Your chiropractor may also order an MRI of other diagnostic testing to see if there is a problem that did not show up on initial x-rays.
Repeated painful adjustments could also mean that your chiropractor is not as skilled as they need to be to provide you with a painless adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments are like dancing. Both parties must be in synch to make it a flowing and effortless experience. Some people simply do not match up well and toes get stomped on. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance, just that you may need to try a different dance partner.
If you would like to see what a gentle and caring chiropractor can do for you, call Dr Marks (714) 938-0575