It’s common to be nervous before you go to your first chiropractic adjustment. It’s also common to experience some soreness afterward. Is this soreness a sign that it worked, or that it didn’t? And how do you know what level of soreness is concerning? There are a number of different reasons that a chiropractic adjustment can lead to some general soreness:
- Muscles you haven’t used in a while were exercised
- Strained and stressed muscles were relieved
- The body is adjusting to realignment
- Your body has adjusted to misalignment and needs to relearn its shape
After your chiropractor diagnoses your issue, identifies areas of tension and pressure, and determines that an adjustment is a good option, you’ll go through the actual adjustment. The first adjustment usually does come with soreness. Correcting the spine has an effect on which of your muscles are supporting your body and which are resting. After the adjustment, the body is exercising and stretching muscles that haven’t been able to stretch for a long time. At the same time, the tense and overstrained muscles have been realigned and allowed to relax. This might come with powerful feelings of relief, or it might feel a little achy and strange.
The body also sometimes has a hard time adjusting to being aligned at first. Your muscles and joints have configured themselves to exist in a different shape. The new, aligned shape will cause significantly less pain. But it will also need to take some getting used to. This is especially true for those who have been dealing with low grade muscle and joint pain for long periods of time. The body grows and reshapes to support the misalignment, but that doesn’t actually alleviate the pain. This is what provides true relief. Researchers studying statistics have found that patients who have been dealing with chronic misalignment for long periods of time are more likely to experience soreness immediately following the appointment.
How to Care for Sore Muscles After Chiropractic Treatment
If you’re experiencing severe pain or feel like there’s an injury to your joints, you should have a doctor check you over. But injury during chiropractic care is extremely rare. Chiropractors examine the body to make sure that there aren’t underlying injuries or conditions that could be aggravated by manipulation. For most people, the soreness will just feel like after you’ve done an intense workout when you hadn’t been to the gym in a while. You don’t have to undergo any complicated treatment plans or follow any programs. All you need to do is take care of yourself the way you would after a rough gym workout. Post-adjustment soreness typically lasts anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. You’ll generally know that it’s related to the adjustment because it will affect the muscle groups near the manipulated joints.
For people whose soreness was caused by their adjustment, you can use moist heat as a treatment. Just run your sink with hot water and soak a washcloth or soft hand towel. Wring it out until the compress is damp, and then lay it on the sore muscles. Heat therapy opens up the blood vessels and increases circulation. This helps the body to send more nutrients and healing agents to the sore muscles to help repair and strengthen them. The muscles and joints also relax more when moist heat is applied. Some experts recommend using an Epsom salt bath to relax the muscles before bed. If you make the bath hot, it’s like having a hot compress pressed against your entire body. Of course, don’t make the water so hot that it injures you. There’s also a chance that your chiropractor will give you preemptive tips for dealing with soreness. You can follow their treatment guidance.
If you have concerns about the pain you’re experiencing, it’s vital that you talk to your chiropractor to make sure that any potential adjustments in the future remain beneficial. Your chiropractor might recommend that you rest your muscles slightly. They’ll likely also have guidance for good standing posture and for how to align your body properly when you lay down. Most treatment plans will also include some guidance for light to moderate exercise and stretches. Stretching and exercising helps your body to get used to the alignment and ensures that your spine and joints don’t slip back out of place. To get a consultation about the potential benefits of chiropractic treatment, give us a call at 205-637-1363.