If you’re considering the use of chiropractic adjustment for chronic pain, muscular pain, joint pain, back pain, or any other condition, there are probably a few things you want to know first…

Of course, chiropractic can be used to treat a variety of conditions, but today, we’ll specifically share:

what it is | how it works | what it’s used for | the benefits | side effects | risks | what to expect | how to find one

Let’s get started by sharing a bit about what chiropractic is…

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic work is an alternative form of health care intervention that is used by licensed professionals called chiropractors.

According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), chiropractic is the third largest primary health care profession, treating roughly 35 million patients yearly

Chiropractors specialize in addressing issues with the nervous system, which controls all aspects of the body. By realigning the spine, which is part of the central nervous system, function through the peripheral nervous system can improve.

Spinal adjustments are made by chiropractors using their hands or specific correcting instruments, with the application of a specific force to an area of the spine. This is called an adjustment.

Although chiropractic may be used to treat specific conditions, it is widely considered preventative, which means you need to engage in receiving chiropractic work before you begin to have issues.

By keeping your body and nervous system in healthy working order, chiropractic helps maintain body functions without the use of drugs or surgery. Instead of treating the symptoms, it helps the body help support itself to maintain good health.

How does it work?

If you’re thinking about getting Chiropractic work, you may be interested in the specifics of how it works. The theory behind Chiropractic asserts that misalignment of your spine contribute to a state of disease. 

The primary function of chiropractic work is to manipulate the spinal joints by applying force to said joint in order to realign the spinal column.

One large reason chiropractic is effective is due to correcting misalignments in the spine, called subluxations. The definition of subluxation has been described in Mosby’s Medical Dictionary as: “…a partial abnormal separation of the articular surfaces of a joint.”

What is it used for?

Chiropractic adjustment may be used for a variety of conditions or prevention measures, including: 


There are many physical and psychological benefits to chiropractic adjustment. Let’s talk about psychological benefits first…

Psychological Benefits

Chiropractic intervention seeks to connect the mind and body as a whole. There is some debate as to whether or not this intervention actually benefits a person’s psychology.

There is some evidence supporting that chiropractic manipulation can aid in depression symptoms.

Similarly, one of the overlying psychological benefits is the release of stress. Having a chiropractic experience can help to lower one’s stress as it is a calm environment and often can present solace during the hectic lives of many individuals. Chronic stress is linked to many mental issues’ that people experience. By reducing stress, chiropractic can aid in other psychological issues as a result. 

Health Benefits of Chiropractic Care 

Side Effects

Side effects from chiropractic generally show post-treatment.

A cohort study done by the VU University Medical center observing approximately 529 subjects exposed to chiropractic treatment over the span of 12 months, indicated that there may appear to be negative results in some cases. Side effects included “musculoskeletal system pain”, usually after treatment.

It is also important to note that in this particular study, “only 1% of patients in the cohort reported any discomfort after their chiropractic visits”, implying that even if some negative side effects may occur, the benefit out-ways the risks.

And in a study on the side effects of chiropractic treatment, researches shared the following side effects:

Of note is also the fact that patients with long lasting problems are more likely to experience side effects from chiropractic care.

The majority of the information on chiropractic practices displays the overwhelming benefits that exist with the treatment and modalities offered with this alternative modality.


There are some risks associated with chiropractic work. Those that would not benefit from having a chiropractic consultation and adjustment. If someone suffers from osteopenia, osteoporosis or any form of bone cancer, they would be a high risk for chiropractic work as these are all contraindications for chiropractors.

Similarly, if you are someone that is at risk for cancer has cancer or at risk for a stroke, chiropractic work would not be suitable for you. 

What to expect

Similar to a doctor’s appointment, the chiropractor will ask the patient a series of questions regarding their lifestyle or health history as well as ask the patient to indicate if there are any contraindications they should be aware of prior to moving forward with the examination.

Every situation and patient is different and due to this fact, some appointments may require an x-ray protocol prior to any adjustment work that will be done. This will offer the practitioner better insight into how to treat the patient and also see any pre-existing injuries or health risks that the patient may not be aware of. 

A licensed chiropractor has education on specific body positioning in order to perform the adjustment safely and properly. The use of chiropractic tables, which are specifically designed for spinal, neck, and lower limb manipulation.

The adjustment is performed on what is known as a chiropractic table. Occasionally the use of special tools such as an activator adjustment tool. In some scenarios a practitioner may use this tool when a patient may have serious neck stiffness, suffering from whiplash, or other neck-related injuries. The activator works by sending an electrical charge or shock to the attempt to attain movement of the spine around the neck region. 

How to find a Chiropractor

To find a chiropractor, you may want to ask for a referral from your primary care physician or physical therapist. Your primary care physician can offer you a referral to a local chiropractor and get you started on the right path to find your practitioner.

You may also search your local area to see if there is a practicing chiropractor near you.

Some practitioners may offer insurance coverage and some may not, so patients would have to pay out of pocket in some cases.

Simply asking friends, neighbors or local people in the community for recommendations is another viable option.


American Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). News & Publications. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://www.acatoday.org/News-Publications/Newsroom/Key-Facts

Jenkins HJ, Downie AS, Moore CS, French SD. Current evidence for spinal X-ray use in the chiropractic profession: a narrative review. Chiropr Man Therapy. 2018;26:48. Published 2018 Nov 21. doi:10.1186/s12998-018-0217-8

Leboeuf-Yde, C., Hennius, B., Rudberg, E., Leufvenmark, P., & Thunman, M. (1997). Side effects of chiropractic treatment: a prospective study. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics20(8), 511–515.

Millan, M., Leboeuf-Yde, C., Budgell, B., & Amorim, M. A. (2012). The effect of spinal manipulative therapy on experimentally induced pain: a systematic literature review. Chiropractic & manual therapies20(1), 26. https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-709X-20-26

Mosby’s medical dictionary. (2013). (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. (2020). Practice Analysis of Chiropractic 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://mynbce.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Practice-Analysis-of-Chiropractic-2020-5.pdf

Rubinstein, S. M., Leboeuf-Yde, C., Knol, D. L., de Koekkoek, T. E., Pfeifle, C. E., & van Tulder, M. W. (2007). The benefits outweigh the risks for patients undergoing chiropractic care for neck pain: a prospective, multicenter, cohort study. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics30(6), 408–418. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2007.04.013