Why do I feel worse after chiropractor?
If you are new to chiropractic care and are not quite sure what to expect, then the idea of “feeling worse” after a visit to the chiropractor may leave you skeptical. However, what many people describe as “feeling worse” is actually the mild discomfort that comes with encouraging your spine and muscles into more healthy positions. Reactions to chiropractic care vary from person to person and can also depend on how long they have been visiting a chiropractor and receiving adjustments.
Conversations with Your Chiropractor
Your chiropractor will explain what to anticipate before, during, and after the adjustment so you are completely comfortable and at ease with the entire process. It can be incredibly helpful to understand the perspective of your chiropractor and where they assess your body to be before the first adjustment and their treatment goals for the whole therapeutic process through the final adjustment.
It may get worse before it gets better
Visiting the chiropractor for a new pain often means instant relief during your adjustment. But it’s not unusual to notice soreness a few hours after your appointment, and it may be even worse than the pain that had you calling the chiropractor in the first place! So what’s going on?
If you’re new to chiropractic care, years of accumulated spinal misalignments will mean some amount of discomfort after your first few adjustments. That’s because there are changes happening in your body. And while they may be positive changes, they’re still uncomfortable. The key is giving your body some time to adjust and adapt to these changes. Think of it like this – the first time you lift weights or run a mile can be incredibly uncomfortable, to the point that may even feel physically ill. For a day or two or three afterward, your body will feel sore and weak. But sticking to your workout plan means your body will begin adapting. Within even just a few weeks, you won’t have the same negative reaction to your workouts.
The same is true with chiropractic care
When misalignments that have been present for years – or just a few days – are suddenly corrected, your body needs time to adjust to the change. Muscles, ligaments and joints must re-adapt to the vertebra’s improved new position, and that takes time.
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.
Is it normal to feel WORSE after getting adjusted?
After I get adjusted I want to take a nap and eat a steak! Ha-ha! But in all seriousness an adjustment is a powerful healing force and after getting adjusted your body is going to jumpstart its immune functions and also inflammatory responses to start healing. What that means is that your immune system is going to start working hard to clear out any illnesses that have been hanging out in your body (like that pesky Humboldt crud you can’t shake!) which can lead to runny noses, coughing, or interesting GI results after an adjustment. The inflammatory system in your body is going to start repairing the damage caused when your muscles were all tight and angry before the adjustment which can lead to muscle soreness the day after similar to how you feel the day after a workout.
All of this is normal but can be lessened by drinking lots of water, eating some healthy food and getting a good night sleep after an adjustment. Also, a few hours of minor muscle soreness and needing to blow your nose a few times is a small price to pay for getting rid of headaches or debilitating low back pain. Any unpleasant side effects of chiropractic care should be relatively minor and go away within a day or two after treatment.
Toxic Release From ChiropracticTreatment
Some of the symptoms you may experience if your body does go through toxic release are fatigue, headache, night sweats, tight muscles and diarrhea. Feeling extremely tired after a chiropractic session is very common. This is due to your body adjusting to the new way your nervous system is reacting to the treatment. Before your alignment, its likely that your nervous system was being jammed up in areas by subluxations. However, through chiropractic manipulations, your nerves may be able to work at their optimal level, which can be very tiring to the body if it has been deprived of this for some time.
Your body is reacting to chemical signals from the brain to the spinal cord constantly throughout the day. When that flow of energy gets disrupted due to spinal subluxations, or dysfunctions of the spine, then that course of action is slowed down. By clearing out those blockages and regulating that flow of information to its optimal speed, then there is going to be an adjustment period for your body, causing it to feel very tired, and even sick, in the meantime.
A better way of imagining this process is to think of your nervous system as a garden hose. When there is a kink in the hose then the water gets jammed, unable to flow throughout the hose efficiently. This is the same for your nervous system. If there is a subluxation in your spine, it blocks that flow of energy causing pressure to build up. That pressure can cause a number of ailments, from headaches to chronic pain. That pressure needs to be released through spinal manipulations in order to regulate the flow. The adjustment your body has to this new flow of energy is what ends up causing those cold-like symptoms. However, don’t worry, they won’t last long, and the benefits you will get from the chiropractic treatments may make it worth it.