woman recieving a chiropractic adjustment

What Happens During a Chiropractic Adjustment?

If you are considering having Chiropractic treatment, you may have many questions about what to expect during your appointments.  Following are some of the most common things that will occur when visiting the Chiropractor.

Initial Consultation

During your first visit, it will be very much like any other type of healthcare appointment.  You will be asked to fill out a health questionnaire to document any of your existing conditions, current treatments you are receiving, medications you take, the reason you are choosing chiropractic treatment, and what your expected outcome is.  You will also be required to fill out a form if the reason you are seeking treatment is work related or due to a motor vehicle accident.

Next, you will have a discussion with your Chiropractor about conditions you’d like to have treated.  The Chiropractor will gather additional information about your health history, and may use a diagram of the human body to make notes about particular areas of concern. You will receive an initial physical exam during this appointment. And finally, you will be able to ask or speak of any of your concerns with the Chiropractor prior to him or her treating you, via signing the Informed Consent.

Initial Physical Exam

During this initial physical exam, your Chiropractor will perform a routine exam, followed by a more in depth exam of the areas of your body that are causing you pain or discomfort.  It’s important to note that while you will be asked about the areas where pain occurs, your Chiropractor may perform an exam of other areas of your body as well.  For example, if you are experiencing leg or knee pain, the Chiropractor will also examine your back as it might be the origin to the primary complaint. Another example would be, if you have a subluxation (a misalignment) in your neck, it may present as pain lower down the arm, to the shoulder or headaches.

Many patients ask if xrays are required as part of your initial Chiropractic assessment and the answer is NO! Xrays are indicated in certain situations only, some of which would include, trauma, previous trauma, osteoporosis or significant arthritis, bony abnormalities etc. Xrays are not normally used with initial Chiropractic assessments and should NOT be used as a pre and post education tool for the patient, by the Chiropractor!

Finally, you may be asked to perform as series of strength and range of motion tests so your Chiropractor can understand where there is weakness in your body.

Once these tests have been completed and evaluated, your Chiropractor will put together a treatment plan that will address your pain, but will treat the symptoms, the pain, and educate you as to the source of both!

Chiropractic Adjustment

During your first treatment, you may receive one or more adjustments.  An adjustment is the main focus of chiropractic treatment.  By ensuring that your bones and joints are aligned properly, many of the symptoms you experience, such as pain, stiffness or weakness, can be alleviated.

While there are several different types of chiropractic adjustments, they all involve similar techniques:

A short, high velocity thrust applied to an area

Joint cavitation (the release of gases like oxygen, nitrogen, and/or carbon dioxide) which reduces pressure

An almost immediate sense of relief in the affected area

It is important to note that many first time patients who receive chiropractic treatment may experience initial discomfort in the surrounding muscles.  This is normal, and is a sign that the muscles have been in a state of spasm, and are beginning to return to their normal position and function.

Noises During Treatment

During your adjustments, you may hear certain noises – most commonly, a popping, cracking or crunching sound.  Some people are hesitant to try chiropractic treatment because they have heard other people describe the noises that occur.  But it’s very important to understand what causes these noises, and that they are entirely normal and nothing to be afraid of.

As mentioned above, one of the things that will occur during an adjustment, is called cavitation.  Cavitation is the release of gases from within the joint spaces, as the adjustment occurs.  The gases are produced within the body, by something called synovial fluid – a fluid that helps lubricate the joints.  Think of cavitation the same way you would think of opening a bottle of champagne – there is a little bit of pressure that has built up inside the bottle, and when the cork is removed, you hear a popping sound as the pressure abates. It is the same sound that is made when people crack their own fingers, as these are sinovial joints as well! This is generally followed by a nice warm pleasant feeling.

As for the crunching or cracking sounds you may hear, again, these are entirely normal.  In severe cases of subluxation, the muscles can pull your bones into very strange positions that have a body-wide impact.  As you receive treatment, the muscles and bones must ‘relearn’ what their optimal position and function are.  This can lead to some odd sounds while your adjustments are taking place, but the end result will be a body that is in proper condition, bones and muscles aligned and working properly.

Potential Side Effects

As noted above, for some patients who are new to chiropractic treatment, or those patients with severe subluxations, there is the potential for some initial side effects that include the following:





These side effects are normal and usually abate within 24 hours.  And as your treatment progresses, you are less likely to experience side effects.

If you find that you are particularly sore, the use of an icepack is highly effective and should help reduce the discomfort quickly.


Chiropractic treatment focuses on your bones, muscles and joints.  Treatment of subluxations (misalignments) can relieve a multitude of symptoms.  If you are considering chiropractic treatment, don’t be afraid – we are here to help relieve your pain and symptoms in a natural drug-free and safe way that will give you all over better health, and ease of movement.

What Happens During a Chiropractic Adjustment? was last modified: by

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