Chiropractic Back Pain

Potential Side Effects

People may or may not experience side effects from chiropractic back pain treatment. Possible side effects can include:
  • Temporary discomfort in parts of the body that were treated
  • Headache
  • Tiredness.
These side effects tend to be minor and usually resolve within one to two days. The rate of serious complications from chiropractic care has been debated. There have been no organized prospective studies on the number of serious complications, and from what is now known, the risk appears to be low. However, the risk does appear to be higher for cervical spine (neck) manipulation.
One area of concern regarding lower back adjustments is cauda equina syndrome. While quite rare, it is estimated to occur once per millions of treatments (the number of millions varies; one study placed it at 100 million). For your safety, it is important to inform all of your healthcare providers about any care or treatments that you are using or considering, including chiropractic care. This will help ensure a coordinated course of care.

Research on Chiropractic Back Pain

Several research studies have been conducted on the effectiveness and benefits of chiropractic care (see Chiropractic Research on Back Pain for more information).

Controversies Surrounding Chiropractic Treatment for Back Pain

There are scientific controversies around chiropractic care, both inside and outside of the profession. For example, within the profession, there have been disagreements about:
  • The use of physical therapy techniques
  • Which techniques are most appropriate for certain conditions
  • The concept of subluxations (partial dislocations).
Outside of the profession, people have questioned the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments, their scientific basis, and the potential risks in subsets of patients.
Research studies are ongoing, and the results are expected to expand scientific understanding of chiropractic care. A key area of research is the basic science of what happens in the body (including its cells and nerves) when specific chiropractic treatments are given.
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