A chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is a non-invasive technique that involves applying controlled force to a joint to restore its function and alleviate pain. During a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor will use their hands or a specialized tool to apply a quick, controlled force to a specific joint in the spine or other parts of the body. People visit chiropractors for a variety of different reasons, including back pain, neck pain, car accident injuries, and general health and wellness. Some people may experience a headache after a chiropractic adjustment, which is a natural and temporary response to this type of non-invasive and therapeutic treatment. Here’s what you need to know if you experience a headache after a chiropractic adjustment.
What Happens During a Chiropractic Adjustment?
If this is your first visit to a chiropractor, you might not know quite what to expect. It can also take your body time to adjust to adjustments that restore healthy alignment. Chiropractic adjustments can be performed while you are lying down, sitting, or standing. Your chiropractor will first perform a thorough examination to determine the location and severity of any misalignment or dysfunction. This may involve checking your posture, range of motion, and reflexes, as well as taking X-rays or other diagnostic tests. Once your chiropractor has identified the areas that need adjustment, they will use their hands or a specialized tool to apply a quick, precise force to the joint. This may produce a cracking or popping sound, which is the result of gas bubbles in the joint fluid rapidly collapsing.
Is it Normal to Get a Headache Shortly After an Adjustment?
After the adjustment, you may experience immediate relief of pain and an improved range of motion. Some people may also experience mild soreness or discomfort for a short period after the adjustment, but this is usually temporary. It is not uncommon for some people to experience headaches after a chiropractic adjustment. This is because the body may need time to adjust to the new alignment and movement patterns after the adjustment. In most cases, these symptoms are mild and short-lived and should resolve within a few hours to a few days. You may also experience an increase in symptoms before you start to feel better, which is a sign that your body is adapting to the changes made during the adjustment.
Other Possible Temporary Symptoms
Here are some other temporary symptoms that some may experience after a chiropractic adjustment:
- Soreness or discomfort: It is common to experience some soreness or discomfort in the areas that were adjusted, particularly if the muscles were tight or in spasm before the adjustment.
- Fatigue: Chiropractic adjustments can be a form of physical therapy, and it is common for people to feel tired or fatigued after an adjustment. Your body needs rest to recover from injuries and jumpstart the natural healing process.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness: Some people may experience dizziness or lightheadedness immediately after an adjustment, particularly if the adjustment involves manipulation of the neck.
- Nausea: Nausea is a less common side effect of chiropractic adjustments, but it can occur in some people.
- Changes in bowel or bladder function: In rare cases, people may experience temporary changes in bowel or bladder function after a chiropractic adjustment. This is often related to the release of toxins that have built up in the body.
What Causes Headaches After a Chiropractic Adjustment?
Your brain and nervous system use the spine as a pathway to send signals throughout the body. When you experience neck or back problems, it can disrupt the flow of these signals. However, when your chiropractor releases the pent-up pressure in and around your spine and joints, it can result in a sudden surge of signals that may overwhelm your nervous system temporarily. As a result, some people can experience headaches as a temporary side effect. This effect may also cause symptoms that feel similar to a cold. Fortunately, these headaches are typically short-lived and do not last long. There are several reasons why you may experience a headache after a chiropractic adjustment. Here are some possible explanations:
Chiropractic adjustments can help improve blood flow and fluid drainage in the body. If you are dehydrated, this can cause headaches after an adjustment. It is important to drink plenty of water before and after a chiropractic appointment to stay hydrated.
Increased Blood Flow
Chiropractic adjustments can increase blood flow to the head, neck, and rest of the body, which can result in headaches for some people. This is typically a temporary side effect that should subside within a few hours.
If your muscles were tight or in spasm before an adjustment, the release of tension during the adjustment can cause headaches. This should also be a temporary side effect that resolves within a few hours.
People with pre-existing conditions, such as migraines or tension headaches, may be more prone to experiencing headaches after a chiropractic adjustment.
How to Manage Headaches After a Chiropractic Adjustment
Here are some tips on how to manage headaches after a chiropractic adjustment.
Drinking plenty of water each day can help prevent headaches caused by dehydration and flush any toxins that get released during your chiropractic adjustments.
Taking a break and resting after a chiropractic adjustment can also help your body adjust to the changes and alleviate headaches.
Apply Heat or Cold
Applying a heating pad or ice pack to the affected area can help relieve headaches caused by muscle tension and can also help with increased blood flow, which promotes healing in the area.
Gentle, therapeutic massage of the neck and shoulders can help relieve muscle tension and alleviate headaches.
Follow Up with Your Chiropractor
If headaches persist or become severe, it is important to follow up with your chiropractor to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.
Visit a ProCare Medical Center near you and get started today with our team of chiropractors. With locations in Austin and San Antonio, our Texas chiropractors are here to help you with a wide range of health conditions and issues. Our chiropractors team up with primary care physicians to provide you with quality, comprehensive healthcare close to home.