Lower Back Pain Worse After Chiropractic Adjustment: Is This Normal?

Chiropractic treatment often comes with the hope of easing that nagging neck and back pain. It’s a popular choice for many, with a track record of effectively managing pain issues. 

However, have you ever walked out of a chiropractor’s office feeling a bit off? This unexpected twist in the healing journey isn’t as rare as you might think.

Some patients report experiencing what are known as “detox symptoms” after a chiropractic adjustment. These can range from dizziness and fatigue to headaches and even flu-like signs. Feeling muscle soreness as your body adjusts to its new, corrected posture is normal.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, it’s natural to feel concerned. While some discomfort is expected, severe pain might raise some eyebrows. Let’s explore why this happens and what it means for your path to recovery.

First Thing’s First: Understanding Normal Post-Chiropractic Adjustment Discomfort

Before diving into the reasons behind increased pain after chiropractic treatment, it’s essential to set the baseline: What kind of post-adjustment discomfort is considered normal?

Pain following a chiropractic session is typically normal, provided it’s not intense or severe

Chiropractic adjustments involve minor movements of the vertebrae to realign the spine to its healthy physiological position. This process can affect the surrounding lumbar or cervical spine areas and nearby joints, muscles, and nerves.

Usually, this discomfort is short-lived, lasting about 24 to 48 hours. A practical and effective way to manage it is by applying moist heat to the affected area. 

If you find yourself experiencing severe pain that doesn’t ease with heat or other measures, and it persists beyond 48 hours, it’s time to revisit your chiropractor. This could indicate that your body is reacting differently than expected to the adjustment.

3 Reasons For Lower Back Pain Becoming Worse After Chiropractic Adjustment

Now that we’ve established what’s considered normal regarding post-chiropractic adjustment discomfort, let’s delve into why your body might react this way. 

Understanding these factors can help demystify the process and put your mind at ease.

1. Adjustment to a correct spinal alignment

It’s common for our spines to become misaligned or experience subluxations, often without immediate pain. Over time, however, these misalignments can lead to longer-term issues. Chiropractic treatment aims to correct this by realigning the vertebrae. While this benefits your overall health, ensuring proper nerve and blood vessel alignment, it’s normal to feel some discomfort initially. Remember, as long as the pain isn’t severe, it’s a normal part of the adjustment process.

2. Activation of underused muscles

Improper spinal alignment affects muscle activity. Some muscles may become underutilized, while others are overworked. 

After a chiropractic adjustment, as the spine realigns, different muscles are engaged in movement. This sudden activation of previously underused muscles can cause discomfort akin to the soreness felt after a workout.

3. Nerves adapting to new positions

The nerves around your spine also need time to adjust. Before the adjustment, misaligned vertebrae may have put pressure on these nerves, causing pain. 

Although the adjustment alleviates this pressure, the nerves must adapt to their new, more spacious environment. 

This adjustment period might cause some discomfort but is a sign that your body is responding to the positive changes made during the chiropractic session.

Other non-alarming reactions you might have after chiropractic alignment…

After a chiropractic alignment, there are several reactions your body might have, and it’s essential to understand that not all of them are cause for concern. Let’s look at some of these typical responses:


It’s not uncommon to notice some bruising, especially if your chiropractor has done muscle work along with the adjustment. The intensity of the treatment can sometimes lead to minor bruising. Remember, while this is a normal reaction, it should be minimal and not cause for alarm.

Improved bowel movements

Surprisingly, chiropractic adjustments can positively impact your digestive system. You might find relief after an adjustment if you’ve been experiencing constipation or other digestive issues. This is because the treatment can help restore better nerve function in your digestive organs.

Mild cold-like symptoms

Experiencing symptoms similar to a mild cold post-adjustment is also not unusual. This is often a result of the body releasing toxins that have been building up. 

While it might feel uncomfortable, it’s actually a positive indication that your body is responding to the treatment and beginning to detoxify itself. However, these symptoms should be mild and not persistent.

Easing Discomfort After Chiropractic Treatment

Managing temporary discomfort after a chiropractic session is crucial for a smoother recovery. Here are some effective, easy-to-follow steps you can take at home to alleviate any muscle soreness or mild pain:

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential. It helps to hydrate your body and can also aid in flushing out any toxins released during the chiropractic adjustment. Proper hydration can also help reduce muscle stiffness and soreness.

Gentle exercise

Engaging in light physical activities like walking can be incredibly beneficial. It keeps your muscles active and promotes circulation, aiding faster recovery and reducing discomfort.

Warm heat application

Applying a warm heat pack to your lower back can provide significant relief. Make sure to wrap the heat pack in a towel to prevent burns and use it for about 15- to 20-minute intervals. This warmth can help relax the muscles, ease stiffness, and reduce pain.

Perform prescribed exercises

If your chiropractor has given you specific exercises, doing these can be very helpful. These exercises are designed to support the adjustments made during your session, helping your body maintain its new alignment and easing any associated discomfort.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and it’s always best to follow any specific advice given by your chiropractor.

Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently to chiropractic adjustments. Your chiropractor should inform you about what to expect after a session.

If you’re unsure or something feels off, don’t hesitate to contact experts.

While symptoms after chiropractic care are typically minor, it’s still a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider if you have severe or unusual symptoms.

Despite some concerns, chiropractic care is often safer than traditional medical treatments, especially for neck and spine issues. It has fewer risks compared to the side effects of medications and surgery. The chance of having serious complications from drugs or surgeries is actually higher than from chiropractic treatments.

Chiropractic is a safe, non-invasive method. It doesn’t involve needles, drugs, or surgical procedures. Feeling a little sore after an adjustment is normal and shows that your body is adapting to the changes.

Have further questions? Our experts would love to help you. Consult our experienced chiropractors now.


Ernst E. (2007). Adverse effects of spinal manipulation: a systematic review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 100(7), 330–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/014107680710000716

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