Chiropractic adjustments, also known as spinal manipulations, are a popular form of treatment used to alleviate pain and improve function in various parts of the body, particularly the back and neck. More than 35 million Americans (nearly 1 in 4 Americans) visit chiropractors annually, highlighting the widespread use of this healthcare approach. While many people find relief through chiropractic care, it’s essential to consider the potential side effects and risks associated with this practice.
Understanding Chiropractic Adjustments
Chiropractic care originated in the late 19th century with the principles established by D.D. Palmer. It was based on the idea that the body has a powerful self-healing ability and that the spine’s condition is fundamental to overall health.
The core philosophy behind chiropractic treatment is that misalignments of the spine can lead to disruptions in the nervous system, potentially causing various disorders, especially those related to the back, neck, and joints. Chiropractors believe that correcting these alignments enhances the body’s natural healing processes.
While spinal manipulation is the most common technique in chiropractic care, practitioners may employ various methods, including:
- Mobilization: Moving and stretching the muscles and joints to improve motion.
- Spinal Decompression: Gently stretching the spine to alleviate pain due to herniated discs or other spinal disorders.
- Activator Technique: Using a small, hand-held device to deliver gentle impulses to the spine.
Many chiropractors integrate other holistic approaches, such as nutritional counseling, exercise rehabilitation, and lifestyle advice, to promote overall wellness.
Common Side Effects
Most people who undergo chiropractic adjustments experience minimal to no side effects. However, some individuals might experience mild discomfort or soreness in the treated areas. This discomfort is usually temporary and resolves within 24 to 48 hours. Other common side effects include:
- Temporary Pain or Discomfort: Some patients report aching or soreness in the spinal joints or muscles. This is typically mild and short-lived.
- Fatigue: A sense of tiredness or fatigue is another common reaction, possibly due to the release of tension in the muscles.
- Headaches: Some individuals might experience headaches following an adjustment, especially if the neck was treated.
- Muscle Soreness and Stiffness: Just like after a workout, the muscles that have been manipulated during a chiropractic session may feel sore. This is due to the release of muscle tension and the body’s response to the realignment.
- Reactions in Chronic Pain Areas: Patients with chronic pain may initially experience an increase in pain following adjustments. This reaction is often part of the healing process as the body adapts to the new alignment.
- Emotional Release: Some patients might experience an emotional response after treatment. This can range from a feeling of euphoria to a sudden onset of emotions. This is believed to be due to the release of tension in the body.
Rare but Serious Side Effects
While rare, there are more serious side effects associated with chiropractic adjustments that should not be ignored:
- Herniated Discs: In rare cases, spinal manipulation can worsen a pre-existing herniated disc or even cause a new one.
- Cervical Spine Manipulation Risks: Manipulation of the neck has been associated with a rare but serious condition known as vertebral artery dissection, a type of stroke.
- Neurological Consequences: In very rare instances, patients might experience complications like cauda equina syndrome, which affects the bundle of nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord.
Certain conditions might increase the risk of experiencing adverse effects from chiropractic adjustments. These include:
- Osteoporosis: Individuals with weakened bones should approach spinal manipulations with caution.
- History of Spinal Surgery: Patients who have had spinal surgery should discuss their history with a chiropractor before undergoing treatment.
- Severe Arthritis: Severe joint disease can complicate chiropractic treatments.
- Medication Use: Certain medications can increase the risk of complications from spinal manipulations.
Precautions and Safety Measures
To minimize the risks associated with chiropractic adjustments:
- Consult a Healthcare Provider: Before starting chiropractic treatment, consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have a history of health problems.
- Choose a Qualified Chiropractor: Ensure that the chiropractor is licensed and has a good track record. Discuss your health history and concerns before starting treatment.
- Report All Symptoms: If you experience any adverse effects after a chiropractic adjustment, report them to your chiropractor immediately.
- Follow Instructions: Adhere to any aftercare instructions provided by your chiropractor to minimize discomfort and promote healing.
Embracing Holistic Wellness with Governor’s Park Chiropractic
At Governor’s Park Chiropractic, we recognize the importance of a holistic approach to chiropractic care in Denver, Colorado. Led by the highly trained Dr. Omid Ferdowsian, our clinic specializes in comprehensive treatments that go beyond just symptom relief. Our focus is on treating the whole body through a combination of chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, massage, proper nutrition, and exercise. We strive for long-term health and wellness for our patients, ensuring that each treatment plan is tailored to your unique needs and wellness goals.
From your first visit, we conduct thorough examinations to identify the underlying causes of your discomfort and discuss your health aspirations. Our team’s extensive training and expertise in spinal and extremity conditions, and sports-related injuries, allow us to offer care that is responsive to your body’s specific requirements. Whether you’re seeking pain relief, improved mobility, or overall wellness, Governor’s Park Chiropractic is here to guide you toward achieving your health objectives. Contact us today.