As a chiropractor, there are a few questions I tend to get over and over again from patients. They are all good and valid questions, but I get them often enough that I thought it would be a good idea to write them and their answers down and share them with the world. So here they are…
1. Do adjustments hurt?
For most patients, adjustments do not hurt. They usually feel amazing! Now, there are times when an adjustment can hurt. For example, patients who are new to chiropractic may be nervous for one reason or another; maybe they don’t know what to expect or maybe they have heard someone’s story of a bad experience. That nervousness often leads to involuntary stiffening during the adjustment which can cause discomfort. Staying as relaxed as possible during an adjustment is the best way to ensure a pain-free experience. Another reason a patient might stiffen during an adjustment is if they don’t quite trust their chiropractor yet. This is completely normal, especially for newer patients. However, most chiropractors are very well trained and are very good at what they do, so there is no reason not to trust their abilities. A chiropractor would NEVER intentionally hurt a patient. If you don’t trust them as a person, well that’s a good reason to seek treatment with another chiropractor. An adjustment to the spine or an extremity may be uncomfortable if the misalignment was caused by an injury, such as an ankle sprain or whiplash from a car accident. This is because the soft tissues surrounding that joint are already inflamed and irritated. So just be aware that the adjustment may not feel the greatest at the time, but that discomfort won’t last long. Studies show that adjusting a joint as quickly as possible following an injury can greatly improve overall healing time.
2. Are adjustments safe? Are there any side effects?
“Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness, or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current research shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours. Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve pressure and tension. Neck manipulation, when performed by a skilled and well-educated professional such as a doctor of chiropractic, is a remarkably safe procedure. Doctors of chiropractic are well-trained professionals who provide patients with safe, effective care for a variety of common conditions. Their extensive education has prepared them to identify patients who have special risk factors and to get those patients the most appropriate care, even if that requires referral to a medical specialist.” (http://www.acatoday.org/level3_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61&T3ID=152#safety)
3. Are all patients adjusted the same way?
Simply put…no! There are several different adjusting techniques that can be used to treat patients. A large percentage of patients are treated with manual adjustments to the spine and extremities, however, select populations, like pediatric or geriatric patients, for example, are treated using other methods. There are adjusting instruments that can be used to provide a chiropractic adjustment without the use of force or rotation of the spine. These instruments are generally referred to as Activators, although there are several different manufacturers of the instruments. These instruments allow a chiropractor to administer a very specific adjustment with very little force and are often used on infants, toddlers, geriatrics and even those with severe acute conditions. Other tools may be used to aid in the movement of the spine and pelvis, such as SOT blocks and drop pieces. SOT stands for Sacro-occipital therapy and these blocks are wedge-shaped and are placed in different orientations beneath the pelvis and upper thighs to help guide the pelvis into proper alignment. Drop pieces are often built into special chiropractic tables, but can also be portable pieces of equipment that can be added or removed during treatment. Drop pieces are wonderful for patients who have difficulty side-lying or tolerating rotation of the low back during an adjustment. They allow a doctor of chiropractic to adjust different joints in the spine, pelvis, and extremities with very little force or rotation. Instrument adjustments are very comfortable and tend to have fewer potential side effects than most manual adjustments.