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Chiropractic Adjustment: Benefits and Possible Risks




There are many benefits to a chiropractic adjustment, from treating headaches or neck pain to improving asthma. Read on and we’ll tell you all about it!

A chiropractic adjustment is a treatment during which force is applied to the spine. This is done in order to relieve pain and improve mobility, which in turn helps in the treatment of a variety of health problems. It is believed to be effective in relieving low back pain, sciatica, and headaches, among other things. In addition, it is considered a safe and minimally invasive treatment.

What is a chiropractic adjustment and how is it performed?

A chiropractic adjustment is a form of treatment therapy. It is also called a Gonstead adjustment because American chiropractor Clarence Selmer Gonstead developed the technique. In this treatment, controlled force is applied to the spine and other specific areas where nerve interference may occur. This is done with the hands or, in some cases, an instrument. The aim is to help improve both posture and mobility.

In this sense, a chiropractic adjustment is recommended to treat problems such as lower back pain or headaches and neck pain, which conveys a sense of relaxation. As it is a non-invasive technique, it does not require any special preparation, however, an examination is first carried out, and possibly the patient may be recommended both tests and studies.

During the treatment, the patient lies on a stretcher and then assumes different positions. Then the chiropractor performs certain movements and applies controlled force with his hands to the patient’s body. This is done at various points in the spine (lumbar, neck, etc.) or at a joint, such as the hip.

The benefits of a chiropractic adjustment

There are several benefits to this type of therapy. Let’s see who and what science says about them.

Natural pain treatment

A chiropractic adjustment is a natural alternative for treating pain. It is recommended in cases of subluxation and when there are high levels of stress. In that sense, it reduces the need for medication and the risks that this can entail.

Migraines and tension headaches

This therapy can be effective in migraine or tension headaches when used in isolation or in combination in the form of multimodal care, which includes conventional treatment.

However, in some scientific reviews on the subject, researchers are careful to mention the potential benefits and instead recommend further studies of manual therapies for migraines.

Pain in lower back and neck

Back problems, either in the lower back or neck, are the most common reason people seek a chiropractic adjustment. According to a study, this type of manual therapy has been shown to be more effective and cheaper for neck pain than physical therapy .

Another study, conducted with acute and chronic patients experiencing low back pain of mechanical origin, came to similar conclusions, showing pain relief, as well as increased functional capacity and satisfaction.

Frozen shoulder

In a clinical trial conducted with patients with frozen shoulders, most showed improvement after chiropractic adjustment therapy. In fact, about a third of the cases were completely resolved.


As you probably know, sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. The nerve, with the same name as the condition, becomes compressed which can cause pain in the legs. Sometimes this pain becomes so intense that it limits the performance of daily activities. However, according to the results of a study, chiropractic adjustment can help relieve the pain that comes with this condition .

Epilepsy and its consequences

Evidence has been found to suggest that chiropractic care may be beneficial in correcting the upper cervical vertebral subluxation complex in pediatric patients with epilepsy. This is also the case for patients where treatment with anticonvulsant medications has failed.

Colic and reflux

A scientific review from 2011 shows that chiropractic care can be a viable option for treating colic in infants, however, it is believed that more research is needed in this area.

In the case of gastroesophageal reflux, documented cases have been seen among pediatric patients who claim that the symptoms associated with this condition have resolved. However, very few controlled trials have been conducted on this topic.

Other benefits of chiropractic adjustment

Other benefits related to performing chiropractic adjustments are also mentioned in the medical literature:

  • Inflammation: Chiropractic manipulations contribute to a normalization response of inflammatory mediators in people suffering from chronic low back pain.
  • Osteoarthritis and joint pain: This treatment helps reduce pain in people suffering from osteoarthritis of the hip.
  • Asthma: It can help improve the condition of people with asthma in general, including non-specific bronchial hyperactivity.

Risks, side effects, and contraindications of chiropractic adjustment

During the therapy session, you can often hear clicking or cracking sounds as the chiropractor helps the joints to move. One can also experience sensations such as pain, stiffness, or tenderness. However, this usually disappears within 1 to 2 days.

Complications can include aggravation of a herniated disc, compression of a nerve, or a form of stroke when the neck is manipulated.

On the other hand, a chiropractic adjustment is not recommended in the following cases :

  • Advanced osteoporosis
  • History of cerebrovascular accident (CVA)
  • Tumors of the spinal nerve, spinal cord tumors, and spinal cord cancer

When can you expect to see results from a chiropractic adjustment?

About 10 rounds of chiropractic adjustment are recommended. In rare cases, results will be noticed before the fifth treatment. However, we want to make it clear that it is not effective for all people.

It all depends, among other things, on your particular situation, the type of illness, lifestyle, and age. Therefore, if you do not notice any improvements after several weeks of treatment, it is a good idea to try something else. Remember that it is important to go to a certified professional. This is a delicate practice that only a specialist should perform. It is very dangerous if you go to someone who does not have the knowledge of the right technique.

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