Chiropractic Care That Involves Spinal Manipulation

Health & Medical Blog

Chiropractors traditionally use spinal manipulation as part of a treatment plan for all kinds of conditions. But if you are uncertain whether you want to try this particular chiropractic treatment for a chronic pain condition, you may find it helpful to know more about both the benefits and possible side effects.


Manual manipulation of the spine is a centuries-old treatment that chiropractors and other health care professionals even today continue to use to adjust spinal vertebrae that have shifted and are out of alignment. When this happens, you can experience pain in your back and neck. Research shows that spinal manipulation may help relieve:

  • Low-back pain

  • Neck pain

  • Migraine headaches

  • Tension headaches caused by tight neck muscles

  • Whiplash injuries, or neck strain

  • Joint pain in the upper and lower extremities

However, to date, the findings of studies have produced inconclusive results in regard to the benefits of the use of spinal manipulation for:

  • Upper-back pain

  • Fibromyalgia – a chronic condition marked by symptoms that include widespread musculoskeletal pain, joint pain, and tender trigger points

  • Temporomandibular joint disorders – symptoms of which may include pain in the jaw joint and sore jaw muscles

How It's Done

The goal of spinal manipulation is to reduce pain and improve function by relieving pressure on the joint and restoring movement. Usually performed as a manual therapy, a spinal manipulation technique may be applied as a sudden force to a particular joint or as more gentle stretching. In some cases, practitioners use traction devices or a small, hand-held tool that applies force directly to a vertebra to make a spinal adjustment.

Potential Side Effects

Although adverse side effects following chiropractic treatment from a chiropractor like Anthony Iuzzolino DC are rare, more common side effects that patients report after spinal manipulation include:

  • Feeling of tiredness

  • Temporary headache

  • Stiffness

  • Soreness in the areas the chiropractor treated

  • Radiating discomfort in some cases

These common side effects generally resolve within hours to a few days following treatment. While more clinical research on the side effects of spinal manipulation is needed, one study suggests that adverse reactions may be common but typically don't last for long. Nor do most side effects lead to serious problems. However, women who participated in the study were more likely than the male patients to report side effects.

Even though they don't happen often, serious complications that can occur after spinal manipulation treatment may include:

  • Worsening of a herniated disc

  • Pinched or compressed spinal nerves

  • Stroke – a rare complication that can occur following neck manipulation

If you are at high risk of stroke, have spinal tumors in the nerves of the spinal cord, have severe osteoporosis, or experience numbness and tingling in an arm or leg, you should avoid spinal manipulation treatment. Like any medical treatment, it's best to discuss with your doctors whether the benefits of spinal manipulation for treating your condition outweigh the potential adverse side effects.


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