This is another common question that I am asked in my San Clemente chiropractic practice. Or I will hear that the patient had a previous experience with a chiropractor where they felt some soreness or discomfort after the adjustment. My goal here is to shed some light on what is happening during an adjustment and specifically the first time you receive one.
I always explain to my patients that in most cases pain is not felt after their adjustment. However, for some it is like going to the gym for the first time or after a long time away. You feel a little stiff and sore but it’s a good kind of sore. You feel improved even though there may be a little bit of tension for a day.
In general an adjustment should be gentle, comfortable and painless. If anything you should feel better than you felt before. However there are some cases where you may experience some discomfort. If you are visiting a chiropractor due to a recent injury you may feel a bit of tension during the adjustment as your body is in “protect mode” where the muscles typically spasm to try to keep any instability from becoming worse. Therefore, you will be tensing up and fighting the adjustment rather than relaxing and allowing movement to be placed back into the spine.
Another scenario is that of more chronic conditions. Meaning, the problem has been there for some time. Most likely scar tissue has developed in the joint capsule and ligaments around the spine that are responsible for a decrease in range of motion and subsequent pain. When we administer an adjustment to restore motion there we are essentially breaking down that scar tissue. Also this is usually accompanied by long standing muscle contraction. Lactic acid has built up over time and will begin to seep out after the adjustment as the muscle is able to finally relax.
So what can you do following your adjustment to minimize the chances of feeling sore? The most important thing you can do is to drink water. It is really important to hydrate following your adjustment as that will help to flush out the lactic acid that can cause discomfort. It may also be beneficial to put some ice on the effected area especially if you were in pain before getting an adjustment. Finally, Do not over do it! All too often folks leave the office feeling like a new person and decide to go max out at the gym or go do some crazy activity because they can function again. However it is important to let your body heal properly before you get back out there to charge!
If you have any questions about discomfort you are in after your adjustment do not hesitate to call the office or Ask The Doctor.