What Is Chiropractic Care for Pain Management?


Chiropractic is a health profession that focuses on controlled force to a spinal joint. A trained specialist (chiropractor) aligns the musculoskeletal structure (especially the spine) through hands-on manipulation, which improves physical function and spinal motion. Many people experience reduced pain symptoms, including inflammation and muscle tension, with chiropractic care.

What conditions can chiropractic care treat?

Chiropractic care is often used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment for the following:

Initial visit

Prior to making an appointment with a chiropractor, the exact cause of pain should be diagnosed. To develop a treatment plan, a chiropractor will complete the following:

  • A health history includes family history, dietary habits, occupation, symptom details (e.g., when pain began, type and location of pain, etc.), diagnosis, and previous treatments.
  • A physical examination will check range-of-motion, muscle strength, reflexes, and the entire spine.
  • Additional testing, such as X-rays or scans, will review bones, soft tissue wear, and spine abnormalities.

The procedure

During a chiropractic session, the individual is placed in specific positions (e.g., face down, on the side, on the stomach, etc.) on a padded table. A chiropractor applies force with their hands to move a joint. Oftentimes, popping or cracking sounds are heard.

Side effects

Chiropractic care is typically safe. Minor side effects, such as headache, fatigue, or pain, may be experienced for a few days. Although rare, serious complications may include a spinal cord injury from neck manipulation or worsening of a herniated disc.

Use caution

Chiropractic adjustments should be avoided if taking blood-thinning medication or having spinal cord compression, osteoporosis, or inflammatory arthritis. If a history of cancer is present, seek approval from a health care professional prior to receiving chiropractic care. Check with a physician before receiving chiropractic care for pain management.