Chiropractic care is well known for reducing pain, particularly neck and back pain. Many people seek out chiropractic care to help them recover from a car accident, get rid of recurring headaches and migraines, or to help with things like sciatica and herniated discs. Chiropractors are experts in the skeletal and central nervous systems, and they often work in conjunction with other specialists, like neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists, to provide the most comprehensive care to their patients.
So you go to the chiropractor for an adjustment and can’t wait to feel relief from that lingering aching pain or that frustrating shooting pain. But what happens if you leave the chiropractor after an adjustment and actually feel worse than you did before you went in? Does that mean that chiropractic care isn’t working, that it’s not safe, or that something serious is wrong with your body? The short answer to all of those questions is no—but it is important to understand why you may have some discomfort after a chiropractic adjustment.
When you get an adjustment, your vertebrae are being moved slightly. Your muscles have to adapt to the movement of the bone, so they may end up lengthening or shortening slightly, which can lead to soreness. The soreness is related to the movement of the bones and not to the pressure utilized by the chiropractor. It can also be due to the release of the tension in your muscles, similar to when you work out and are sore as your muscles repair themselves. As your body gets used to being in proper alignment, the muscles will adjust accordingly and stop being sore.
The more frequently you get adjusted, the faster your body will get used to being adjusted and the longer it will “hold” the adjustment, which will reduce or completely eliminate the post-adjustment soreness. If you have long-lasting or extreme soreness or continue to be sore after many adjustments, talk to your chiropractor or orthopedic surgeon about exploring other possible causes for this.
Sometimes after visiting the chiropractor, you might start feeling sick. This doesn’t mean that your chiropractor got you sick or that your adjustment caused a sickness. When you get adjusted, your entire immune system is jumpstarted, meaning it’s working at optimal efficiency to clear out whatever is in your body that shouldn’t be. This can lead to some coughing, a runny nose, or some sneezing, or could even result in a full-blown cold at times. Remember that all these “symptoms” are your body showing signs of health, and they are your body’s way of getting rid of bad stuff inside of you. Without the adjustment, you most likely still would have gotten sick, but with the adjustment, the sickness severity and length is significantly lessened.
Just as with soreness and illness, digestive changes can be a surprising and frustrating reaction to a chiropractic adjustment. Because your digestive system is directly linked to the vertebrae in your lower back, getting adjusted can bring about some shocking fluctuations in your bowel movements. Some people with issues like constipation or IBS will see more regular bowel movements after adjustments, while those with normal bowel movements may see an increase in irregular digestion. If this is the case, talk to your chiropractor, primary care physician, physical therapist, or orthopedic surgeon about these changes if they are long-lasting or impact your day to day life.
How to Minimize Feeling Worse After Visiting the Chiropractor
Some after-effects of a chiropractic adjustment are unavoidable, but you can minimize the frequency and severity of these so-called side effects in a few different ways. First, drink lots of water before and after your adjustment. This helps flush out toxins and keep your muscles and joints hydrated and lubricated. Second, stay consistent with your chiropractic care plan. The more you stay in proper alignment, the less likely you are to feel worse after your adjustments. Third, be sure to eat as healthy as possible. While it’s important to do this all the time, doing so right after an adjustment will help your body get the nutrients it needs to heal from any issues and maintain optimal health from your adjustment. And finally, try to get a good night’s sleep after your adjustment. Your body is in ultra-healing mode after you visit the chiropractor, so give it plenty of time to repair and restore whatever it needs to by getting plenty of sleep.
Additionally, be sure to see a chiropractor who is widely respected and trusted in the community, such as those at AICA Orthopedics. Our chiropractors offer appointments all across metro Atlanta at our various clinic locations, and they always work with teams of other specialists to provide you with the best and most comprehensive care. To learn more about chiropractic care or to set up an appointment with a chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist, or other AICA specialist, contact us today.