Chiropractic Adjustment Care, Treatment & Benefits (2023)


What is a chiropractic adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment is a therapeutic treatment where a licensed chiropractor uses their hands or special instruments to manipulate joints in your body. This treatment is also called spinal manipulation or joint manipulation. A chiropractic adjustment can help reduce pain, correct your body’s alignment and how your body functions physically. Chiropractic adjustments offer treatment that complements traditional medical care you receive.

Who is a chiropractor?

A chiropractor treats many conditions affecting the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. Think of a chiropractor as a doctor who cares for any kind of muscle, bone or joint pain or dysfunction. The most common reasons for a chiropractic adjustment include:

  • Lower back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headaches.

In addition, chiropractors can treat musculoskeletal pain anywhere in your body: in your head and jaws, shoulders, elbows and wrists, hips and pelvis and your knees and ankles.

What does a chiropractor do?

Chiropractors treat aches, pains, creaks and strains. If you’ve got a problem that involves your musculoskeletal system, a chiropractor can offer alternative methods of treatment that don’t involve prescribing medicine.

Treatment that a chiropractor may offer includes:

  • Adjustments: To gently realign joints to decrease pain and increase range of motion.
  • Soft-tissue therapy: To relax tight muscles, relieve spasms and release tension in the connective tissue that surrounds each muscle (fascia).
  • Exercises and stretches: To restore and maintain joint stability and mobility.
  • Joint bracing/taping (Kinesio taping): To support sprained joints or muscles as they heal.
  • Referrals to integrative medicine experts: For guidance on diet and nutrition to reduce inflammation and/or promote healthy eating to manage weight.

What does a chiropractic adjustment treat/manage?

Each person who seeks a chiropractic adjustment has a unique reason for their appointment, but all chiropractic adjustments treat your musculoskeletal system. Some people choose to have a chiropractic adjustment if they have the following conditions:

(Video) Chiropractic Adjustment Care, Treatment & Benefits | Health Insiders

  • Arthritis.
  • Frequent headaches.
  • Healing after an accident or whiplash.
  • Joint pain and dysfunction.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Sciatica.
  • Stiff muscles or muscle aches.

Chiropractors make sure not only that your joints are moving properly, but also that your surrounding muscles are functioning as well.

Why is a chiropractic adjustment done?

Chiropractic adjustments focus on alleviating symptoms that affect the musculoskeletal system. This could be to treat aches and pain, muscle stiffness or chronic conditions. Some people choose to get a chiropractic adjustment if they want an alternative form of treatment that doesn’t involve taking prescription medicine.

How common are chiropractic adjustments?

Chiropractic adjustments are the most common alternative treatment option in the United States.

Who can get a chiropractic adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment is an effective treatment option for all ages, including both children and adults. The most common age range for someone to seek chiropractic care is between 45 and 64 years old. It’s more common for people assigned female at birth rather than people assigned male at birth to visit a chiropractor.

You should receive a screening before a chiropractic adjustment to ensure that you're a good candidate for chiropractic care. If chiropractic care is not appropriate for your condition, your chiropractor will refer you to another healthcare provider to help you.

Procedure Details

What happens before a chiropractic adjustment?

At your first visit, your chiropractor will discuss your medical history and perform a physical exam. If needed, they’ll order diagnostic imaging tests done to understand more about your musculoskeletal system including:

(Video) Benefits of chiropractic care | New Day

  • X-rays.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

After learning more about your symptoms and what might be causing your discomfort, your chiropractor will develop a unique treatment plan based on exam findings and the results of your tests.

What happens during a chiropractic adjustment?

During a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor will offer treatment that is unique to meet your needs.

You will lie face down on a chiropractic table that allows certain parts of your body (divided into segments) to lift slightly higher than the rest, which helps your chiropractor apply pressure to a specific area.

Your chiropractor will use their hands or small instruments to apply a quick, controlled force (amount of pressure) to a joint or they will gently stretch your joints beyond their normal range of motion. This helps align the vertebrae in your spine if they were slightly off-center and release gases trapped within your joints.

What is the popping sound I hear during a chiropractic adjustment?

You may feel and hear a popping or cracking sensations during a chiropractic adjustment. These are gases, like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, released from your joints. Gas gets trapped in small cavities of your joints when you move and stretch. While this gas release may be more apparent during a chiropractic adjustment, you experience a similar sound when you crack your knuckles.

Does a chiropractic adjustment hurt?

Chiropractic adjustments offer little to no pain during a procedure, similar to what you might feel after a workout. You will not feel severe pain during a chiropractic adjustment. Your chiropractor will apply a controlled amount of force (pressure) to your joints, which creates a cracking or popping noise as the gas leaves your joints. While this may sound painful, it doesn’t feel painful.

What happens after a chiropractic adjustment?

After a chiropractic adjustment, you might feel mild soreness or have very minor aches in areas of your body that your chiropractor worked on. This feeling usually goes away within 24 hours and rarely affects people who see a chiropractor regularly.

(Video) Chiropractic Adjustments EXPLAINED!

After your appointment, your chiropractor might recommend “homework” for you to extend your therapy after an adjustment. These recommendations might include:

  • Exercises and stretches.
  • Proper ergonomics for improving your posture.
  • Icing/heat therapy or topical analgesics.
  • Advice on nutrition, diet, weight or general health.
  • Ways to manage stress and relax muscles.
  • Electrical muscle stimulation using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators (TENS).

Risks / Benefits

What are the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment?

There are several benefits of a chiropractic adjustment including:

  • Helps minimize migraines and neck-related headaches.
  • Improves your posture.
  • Reduces pain and improves range of motion of your spine and other joints.
  • Reduces symptoms of chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.
  • Treats minor neck or spine injuries, especially whiplash.

What are the side effects or complications of a chiropractic adjustment?

After a chiropractic adjustment, you may feel tired or sore. Some people might get mild headaches after a chiropractic adjustment. These side effects are temporary.

In rare cases, chiropractic care may cause serious complications such as:

  • Herniated disks.
  • Pinched nerves in the lower spine (cauda equina syndrome).
  • Stroke.

You have a higher risk of side effects or complications if you have adjustments from people who aren’t trained and licensed. Only a licensed, professional chiropractor should treat you.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time for a chiropractic adjustment?

Many people feel almost immediate relief from symptoms after a chiropractic adjustment. After treatment, you might feel sore for 24 hours.

The goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to restore your health over the long term, rather than to relieve your symptoms short term. Your chiropractor will encourage you to learn about new ways to position your body at your desk, when you’re standing and moving and when you’re in bed. They might also recommend incorporating stretches into your daily routine. These long-term tips can help prevent future problems.

It’s important to inform your primary care physician about any pain you’re experiencing, whether recent or chronic (lasting more than three months). Your primary care doctor can rule out potentially serious problems that need treatment beyond a chiropractic adjustment.

(Video) What Does a Chiropractor Do? : Benefits of a Chiropractic Adjustment

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider?

If you receive a chiropractic adjustment and you feel unusual symptoms, such as weakness, numbness or worsening pain, contact your healthcare provider immediately for an evaluation.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Chiropractic adjustments might be right for you if you experience pain and want an alternative form of treatment. Most people will feel immediate relief after a chiropractic adjustment, while others could experience temporary minor pain after treatment. If you’re unsure if seeking chiropractic care is right for you, talk with your primary care provider about your symptoms and concerns.

(Video) 5 Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments | Dr. Josh Axe


What happens to your body during a chiropractic adjustment? ›

Chiropractic adjustment uses “Crack” or “Pop” (Cavitation) to remove restricted joint movement. This facilitates receptors inside the joint and reduces pain signals from the joint. The brain interprets the release in joint movement and reduces pain.

What are the benefits of full body adjustment? ›

Full body adjustments provide the benefits of improved blood flow, improved mobility and brain function, and better sleep. A total body adjustment can even help improve blood pressure and performance in sports!

How often should a chiropractor adjust you? ›

When you are just starting a new treatment plan, it's common to have adjustments multiple times a week. As your body begins to heal, that number could drop to just once a week. And if you are pain-free and simply want to maintain your lifestyle, you might only need to get an adjustment once or twice a month.

How often should you see a chiropractor? ›

Depending on your preference and health situation, weekly or monthly visits could benefit you the most. If you're experiencing warning signs of upper back pain, for instance, you should make an appointment and see what your chiropractor recommends.

Is an adjustment better than a massage? ›

Chiropractors and massage therapists may seem similar but are very different in terms of the approach they take. They both can help alleviate the pain that is disrupting your quality of life. But Chiropractic care address the spine and its alignment and massage therapists are more focuses on the muscles.

How long do the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment last? ›

Those with work-related or lifestyle problems such as hours at a computer or too little exercise may benefit from a regular adjustment every two to four weeks to prevent problems.

Is getting your body adjusted good for you? ›

There are several benefits of a chiropractic adjustment including: Helps minimize migraines and neck-related headaches. Improves your posture. Reduces pain and improves range of motion of your spine and other joints.

Are chiropractic adjustments worth it? ›

Chiropractic adjustment can be effective in treating low back pain, although much of the research done shows only a modest benefit — similar to the results of more-conventional treatments.

When should you not go to the chiropractor? ›

When Not To See A Chiropractor. Patients with herniated or slipped discs and those with arthritis may need advice from specialist physicians before seeing a chiropractor. If there is a physical abnormality or injury in your body, such as a fracture, chiropractic care may not be for you.

How long does it take for chiropractic adjustments to work? ›

Depending on the extent of the spinal injury, patients typically feel a reduction in pain of 40-80% following their first visit. However, general improvement occurs within 1 to 4 weeks from the start of chiropractic therapy.

What kind of toxins are released after chiropractic adjustment? ›

Sometimes, a toxin release feels great because endorphins are released during a chiropractic adjustment.

How do I know if my chiropractor is working? ›

How To Know If Chiropractic Is Working
  1. You Are Feeling Less Pain. One of the most common reasons people seek out chiropractic care is because they are in pain. ...
  2. You Are Sleeping Better. ...
  3. You Have More Energy. ...
  4. You Are Feeling More Relaxed. ...
  5. Your Immune System Is Improving.

Do you have to keep going to a chiropractor if you go once? ›

Although routine chiropractic adjustments are by no means necessary for everyone, nor must you continue chiropractic care after your first appointment, we often recommend regular chiropractic adjustments to improve overall health and wellness.

Should you let a chiropractor adjust your neck? ›

Yes, neck adjustments are safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional. Qualified chiropractors should be more focused on neck alignment than “cracking” your neck, which may increase the risk of blood vessel strain.

Why do chiropractors require so many visits? ›

Common Chiropractic Adjustment Frequencies

To achieve maximum benefits, most injury and pain types will need somewhere between four and twelve sessions. Ongoing maintenance is used to prevent pain from coming back and to prevent additional injuries from forming due to a misalignment of the spine.

How do I know if I need a body adjustment? ›

6 Signs You Need to Seek Chiropractic Care
  1. Chronic Back Pain. Chronic back pain is one of the most obvious reasons you need to see a chiropractor. ...
  2. Frequent Headaches. There are various reasons a person gets frequent headaches. ...
  3. Muscle & Joint Pain. ...
  4. Frequent Sitting. ...
  5. Limited Range of Motion. ...
  6. Sharp, Shooting Pain In Legs.
Jul 17, 2020

What's the best thing to do after a chiropractic adjustment? ›

7 Things You Should Do After Every Chiropractor Appointment
  1. Hydrate. ...
  2. Move, But Don't Exercise Vigorously. ...
  3. Avoid Explosive Movements. ...
  4. Add Chiropractor Exercises to Your Routine. ...
  5. Eat Healthy Foods. ...
  6. Pay Attention to Your Body. ...
  7. Avoid Prolonged Sitting.
Mar 8, 2021

When is the best time to get a chiropractic adjustment? ›

If you are experiencing pain in your body that disrupts your daily life then it is an ideal time to see a chiropractor. Ideally, you will seek out treatment before the pain becomes this troublesome, but if you're already there, chiropractic treatment can help.

Does getting adjusted release toxins? ›

Approximately 20% of chiropractic patients experience toxic release following an adjustment. It might sound a little scary, but it's actually a positive reaction to chiropractic treatment. Your body is releasing toxins due to spinal manipulations, which is a good thing.

What are the disadvantages of chiropractic therapy? ›

  • Spinal and joint manipulation has a chance to go wrong and may cause unwanted fractures or injuries. So it is important that you only have an appointment with an experienced chiropractor.
  • The cost of treatment can be quite high.
  • Some insurance companies do not have coverage for chiropractic care.
Feb 28, 2011

How long does a full body adjustment take? ›

Appointments typically range from 15-45 minutes. Because your first chiropractic appointment will involve a full needs assessment, expect to be there for around 45 minutes.

What toxins are released during chiropractic adjustment? ›

Sometimes, a toxin release feels great because endorphins are released during a chiropractic adjustment.

Does chiropractic work release toxins? ›

Approximately 20% of chiropractic patients experience toxic release following an adjustment. It might sound a little scary, but it's actually a positive reaction to chiropractic treatment. Your body is releasing toxins due to spinal manipulations, which is a good thing.

What not to do after chiropractic adjustment? ›

Keep this alignment intact by not doing any quick or jerky movements following your adjustment, and not doing any heavy lifting or strenuous activities. Because your body needs to relearn how to be in the correct position, be mindful of your movements for the next day or so.

Who should not go to chiropractor? ›

Don't seek chiropractic adjustment if you have: Severe osteoporosis. Numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in an arm or leg. Cancer in your spine.
  • A herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation.
  • Compression of nerves in the lower spinal column.
  • A certain type of stroke after neck manipulation.
Sep 30, 2022

Should you drink lots of water after chiropractic adjustment? ›

If you don't drink enough water after a chiropractic adjustment, your ligaments can lose elasticity and strength due to dehydration. This can leave you sore or worse. So, it's imperative to drink water after an adjustment and to, of course, always stay hydrated.

Is chiropractic treatment worth it? ›

After six weeks of treatment, those assigned to receive chiropractic care: reported less pain intensity. experienced less disability and more improvement in function. reported higher satisfaction with their treatment.

Do you sleep better after chiropractic adjustment? ›

Many don't realize that chiropractors can help with sleep issues. But, it's true! In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one-third of people who have undergone a chiropractic adjustment say they experience an immediate improvement in sleep.

Can you get adjusted too much? ›

Over-manipulation syndrome can begin after high velocity adjustments from a chiropractor or through self-manipulation. While chiropractors provide wonderful care in many cases, there is a risk of damaging the ligament structures and causing joint instability with continued high-velocity adjustments.

How long does it take to realign your spine? ›

Normally, when you get manual manipulation of the spine to correct any of the issues you may be suffering from, this initial process takes adults about 2-3 weeks with two spinal corrections throughout the week.

Does chiropractic help inflammation? ›

Chiropractic Adjustments Help Reduce Inflammatory Agents

When the spine and other joints are properly aligned, and your nerves function as they should, your body's biomechanics return to normal. This stops the production of neuropeptides, which can help reduce inflammation.

Does chiropractic help weight loss? ›

Coupled with a healthy diet and a steady exercise routine, chiropractic care can aid in weight loss. Spinal adjustments can improve pressure that could be causing subluxations. With these removed, exercise should be easier. Additionally, adjustments can supplement weightlifting and can improve muscle tone.

What is happening when a chiropractor cracks your neck? ›

The cracking you hear is not your bones shifting or crunching, but is caused by the formation and pop of gas bubbles. “Adjustments” (that is the technical term), work by quickly stimulating and mobilising the joints and muscles around the spine. These help to reduce pain, & increase the range of mobility and function.


1. The Truth About Chiropractic Adjustments
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2. 11 Chiropractic Benefits for Overall Health
(Dr. Josh Axe)
3. Chiropractic Adjustment Benefits for the Entire Body with Dr. Dan Sullivan
(Dr. Josh Axe)
4. 5 Health Benefits of Chiropractic
(The Evidence Based Chiropractor)
5. What is a Chiropractic Adjustment? (From Chiropractor)
(Back Intelligence)
6. Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustment : Principles of Chiropractic Care
(ExpertVillage Leaf Group)
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