Can Chiropractic Adjustments Be Harmful?

According to a recent Gallup Panel, approximated 35 million people saw a chiropractor in the United States over the past year. Of those people, 77 percent described their treatment as effective. It is hard to argue with so much success, however, there are individuals who remain skeptical about the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic adjustments.

What are the chances of being injured from a chiropractic adjustment?

Less than one in a million patients have a negative reaction to a chiropractic adjustment. In all, it is more likely that a person would have a negative reaction to taking pain medication than a chiropractic adjustment.

What are the possible side effects of a chiropractic adjustment?

The risks of chiropractic care tend to be minimal. Most professionals agree that there are five common side effects of chiropractic adjustment. Although these side effects are minor, they can happen in some individuals. 

Despite these side effects, studies show that chiropractic adjustments have fewer side effects than over-the-counter pain relievers. For example, common ibuprofen side effects include:

  • Upset stomach, mild heartburn, nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness, headache, nervousness
  • Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Mild itching or rash
  • Ringing in the ears

Compared to these symptoms, those of chiropractic adjustment are much more minor. The common side effects of chiropractic adjustment include:

Soreness or Stiffness

According to Dr. Dominguez, a Georgia chiropractor, minor muscle soreness or stiffness can occur after a full-body chiropractic adjustment but often resolve within 24 to 48 hours. This is due to the movement of the body that occurs during a chiropractic adjustment. 

In addition to soreness or stiffness (which doesn’t always occur immediately), some individuals have reported mild headaches after an adjustment. If you experience a headache after an adjustment, be sure to tell your chiropractor on your next visit. They may be able to alter your care plan to try and avoid this side effect.

Toxic Release

Just like therapeutic massage, another common chiropractic side effect is the release of toxins in the body. These toxins are stored in your muscles and joints, and when your body is adjusted the toxins are released. 

Although this could bring about symptoms similar to those experienced when one has a cold or the flu, releasing these toxins is actually a good thing. It is a sign that your body is responding well to treatment.

What conditions create a higher risk for injury from a chiropractic adjustment?

There are some medical conditions that put individuals at a higher risk for potential injury from a chiropractic adjustment. Before treating a patient, chiropractors will obtain a patient history and medical questionnaire. If patients have indicated that they have any of the following conditions, their care plan will likely be altered to avoid the potential risk of injury.

  • Paget’s disease: A disease that can cause bone fractures or deformities.
  • Multiple myelomas: Cancer that affects plasma cells in the body.
  • Osteomyelitis: A spinal bone infection.
  • Severe osteoporosis: A metabolic bone fragility disease.
  • Bone tumors: Either benign or cancerous growths.
  • Neurological conditions.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Any form of inflammation.
  • Reactive arthritis: Joint pain caused by infection, also known as Reiter’s syndrome.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: A type of inflammatory arthritis.
  • Bleeding disorders.