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Neck Pain Worse After Chiropractor 

Date: June 11, 2023

Have you ever experienced worse symptoms after visiting a chiropractor for neck pain? It's much more widespread and frequent than you might imagine. A chiropractor probably didn't do anything wrong.

Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong with your body. This could be the result of a physical injury, or it could be the result of emotional stress reflecting in the body. 

There's always a reason why you can feel even worse pain right after leaving the chiropractor. To find out the answer, we are here to help you unwrap it. 

We'll talk about chiropractic treatments for neck discomfort, their causes, and various treatments. You can also check out our five simple remedies for relieving neck pain.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

A chiropractor helping a patient
A chiropractor helping a patient

Sometimes our feelings cause us greater bodily pain than actual injuries. When it comes to problems like neck pain, chiropractors are the go-to medical professionals for relief. 

A chiropractor will start by asking about your health background. This enables them to comprehend the strains their body has experienced fully. 

Chiropractors will also do a thorough evaluation of your current state of health, both mentally and physically. Among the many biological functions that are impacted by your mental and emotional state are the following:

  • Nervous system functionality: The nervous system is heavily impacted by mental and emotional well-being and can be improved through chiropractic care. 
  • Digestion: Digestion can also be improved with chiropractic care due to its impact on  the body's nervous system.
  • Heart rate chiropractic care: Heart rate chiropractic care can help regulate the heart rate by addressing any mental and emotional issues contributing to it.

When treating a patient, chiropractors consider the individual's overall health. If you go to the chiropractor because of persistent neck pain, your treatment plan will be tailored to your needs. 

Every person has a healing process. A chiropractor will consider your current lifestyle and any pre-existing conditions to decide the best course of treatment.

At first glance, a chiropractic adjustment may sound scary. It may involve cracking or popping bones or joints to realign misaligned components of the body.

Should you go to a chiropractor for neck pain before a doctor?

Various factors, such as poor posture, injury, and degenerative conditions, can cause neck pain. Chiropractic care involves spinal manipulation, mobilization, and other techniques to relieve pain and improve function.

While chiropractic care can be effective for some types of neck pain, seeking medical attention before chiropractic treatment is important. Doctors can conduct a thorough evaluation to identify the cause of the neck pain, which may require further diagnostic testing such as X-rays or MRIs. 

They can also identify any underlying medical conditions or risk factors that may make chiropractic care unsafe or ineffective. For example, neck pain caused by a tumor or infection may require medical treatment, not chiropractic care.

Moreover, seeking chiropractic care without medical clearance can pose potential risks, especially for individuals with a history of stroke, osteoporosis, or spinal cord injury. Manipulation of the neck can cause damage to the blood vessels or nerves, leading to serious complications.

While chiropractic care can be beneficial for some cases of neck pain, it is important to seek medical attention first and obtain clearance from a doctor before undergoing chiropractic treatment.

Learn more on how to fix a nerd's neck.

What can cause neck pain after visiting a chiropractor?

A misaligned spine
A misaligned spine

While chiropractic care can be an effective treatment for neck pain, there are instances where it can cause or exacerbate the condition. Here are some of the potential causes of neck pain after visiting a chiropractor:

1. Misalignment

Chiropractors use manual techniques to manipulate the spine and improve alignment. However, if the manipulation is done incorrectly or too forcefully, it can cause misalignment and increase neck pain.

2. Poor technique

Chiropractors are trained to use specific techniques for spinal manipulation, but some may use improper techniques or apply excessive force, leading to neck pain or injury.

3. Pre-existing conditions

Individuals with pre-existing neck conditions, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or osteoarthritis, may experience increased pain or discomfort after chiropractic treatment. In such cases, the chiropractor may need to modify their techniques or refer the patient to a specialist for further treatment.

Can neck pain normally be cured by a chiropractor?

Chiropractic care can be effective in treating some types of neck pain. The type of treatment the chiropractor uses depends on the underlying cause of the neck pain. For example, if the neck pain is caused by poor posture, the chiropractor may use spinal adjustments and exercises to improve alignment and strengthen the neck muscles.

Chiropractic care may also effectively treat neck pain caused by whiplash injuries or other trauma. The chiropractor can use manual techniques to manipulate the spine, reducing pain and inflammation.

However, it is important to note that chiropractic care is not a cure-all for neck pain. Some causes of neck pain may require medical treatment or surgery. In addition, while chiropractic care can provide temporary relief for some patients, it may not be effective in the long term.

Are Our Smartphones Causing More Neck Pain? Click on our blog to find out.

Causes of neck pain that a chiropractor shouldn't treat

Fractures: Neck fractures require immediate medical attention and immobilization and should not be treated by a chiropractor.

Infections: Neck pain caused by infections, such as meningitis or osteomyelitis, requires medical treatment and should not be treated by a chiropractor.

Tumors: Neck pain caused by tumors may require medical treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy, and should not be treated by a chiropractor.

Causes of neck pain that a chiropractor can treat

Poor posture - Neck pain caused by poor posture can often be treated by a chiropractor using spinal adjustments and exercises.

Whiplash injuries - Neck pain caused by whiplash injuries can often be treated by a chiropractor using manual techniques to manipulate the spine.

Muscle strain - Neck pain caused by muscle strain or tension can often be treated by a chiropractor using soft tissue mobilization and other techniques.

What should you do if your pain worsens after chiropractic care?

Telling your chiropractor how you're feeling up front is always a good idea. As qualified chiropractors, we are curious to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. We can tell you things will improve if you have pain after seeing a chiropractor.

Your medical history and the severity of any prior injuries will determine whether or not your neck is experiencing excessive physical stress. If you suffer a significant injury, it might spread to other parts of your body. Recovery and healing require time, and we are here to help you every step of the way.

Why Am I In So Much Pain After a Chiropractic Adjustment?

A man lying on a chiropractic table with neck pain,Neck Pain Worse After Chiropractor 

Let's go over the main causes of post-chiropractic discomfort so you can better understand why your body could react to chiropractic therapy so strongly.

As was already said, the degree of pain is based on the primary cause of neck or back discomfort.

1. Your spine was out of alignment and is now realigning to adopt your new, healthy posture. Since misalignment and subluxations can go unnoticed for a long time, they are highly common. The issue is that as your body adjusts to your bad spinal position, you feel the impacts over time.

During chiropractic care, the vertebrae are readjusted to their proper positions, eventually improving your health by ensuring that your nerves and blood vessels are in the right places. Nonetheless, due to the spine alteration, you will likely feel pain for the first 24-48 hours following therapy.

Rest assured that your chiropractic adjustment will not cause serious damage as long as the pain is not severe.

2. Formerly Unstimulated Muscles Are Now Stimulated. During chiropractic care, the realignment of the vertebrae affects which muscles are activated during movement. It impacts which muscles are activated and which are not when the vertebrae are misaligned.

You use the proper muscles when your spine is positioned correctly. The new alignment will likely bring about some modifications if this hasn't been the case for a while. Pain following a chiropractic visit will go away in 24 to 48 hours, like a muscular ache following an intense workout.

3. Nerves Are Getting Used To The Altered Position. The nerves also require adjustment, in addition to the muscles that surround the vertebrae. The nerves still need time to adjust to the new space, even though the pressure that misaligned vertebrae placed on them may have caused pain before the treatment and has now been removed.

Can Chiropractic Adjustments Cause Damage?

Although some patients report feeling soreness in the days following chiropractic care, the adjustments themselves do not harm the spine. Chiropractic adjustments seldom cause major side effects, but when they do, it's usually due to worsening a pre-existing disk herniation.

You can trust your chiropractor since he or she has received extensive training to diagnose your condition and choose the best treatment. Your chiropractor will discuss your post-treatment pain and offer advice on how to deal with it. If, however, you do encounter severe pain following a chiropractic adjustment, you should get in touch with them.

Can Chiropractors Make Your Pain Worse?

As was already discussed, sometimes you could feel worse before you feel better. But only for a short while.

Similar to how having braces on your teeth causes discomfort as they adjust to their new, proper position, your vertebrae are also going through this process. Hence, chiropractic treatment will reduce your pain over the long term, despite the possibility of discomfort during treatment.

Follow the advice given by your chiropractor if you experience severe neck or back pain following a chiropractic adjustment, but only after having a post-treatment evaluation.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance getting your body in optimum health and alignment!

Key Takeaway 

It is important to note that some people may have neck pain or discomfort as a result of seeing a chiropractor. Although it is uncommon, this can happen. 

During the appointment, it's important to express any worries or discomfort to the chiropractor so they can alter the treatment plan as necessary.

A licensed and experienced healthcare expert should always be consulted for neck pain treatment. This includes chiropractors qualified to offer spinal manipulation and other therapies for neck pain.

Patients should take an active role in their care and collaborate with their doctor and chiropractor to decide the best course of action for their possible diagnosis. Patients can increase the likelihood that they will experience neck pain relief and see an overall improvement in their quality of life.

About Dr. Sean Ormond
Dr. Sean Ormond in black medical uniform and black fog background
Dr. Sean Ormond is dual board-certified in Anesthesiology and Interventional Pain Management. He completed his anesthesia residency at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio where he served as Chief Resident, followed by an interventional pain management fellowship at Rush University in Chicago, IL. Following fellowship, Dr. Ormond moved to Phoenix and has been practicing in the Valley for a few years before deciding to start his own practice.