“I Am Afraid to Get Adjusted”

By Dr. Jessica Eliason

I adore having the privilege to be someone’s first adjustment ever. It is an absolute honor to start someone on the journey to moving better, and therefore, feeling better. I often tell my patients I have the best job in the world, and I mean it with all my heart. Not every healthcare profession has the potential to send someone away feeling better than when they walked in, and the gratitude I feel for the gifts I have been given is vast. But along with this amazing opportunity to be a positive force in someone’s journey comes responsibility.

This blog post is for the person who wants to feel better, but is afraid.

The first thing I will say is this: To feel some apprehension and fear about that first visit is OK. It’s even natural. It is 100% fair to feel nervous about letting someone you have likely only just met into your personal space. I am here to tell you that Rule Number One is that it is your body, and we as chiropractors honor that. At Langford and Karls Chiropractic, we will walk you through everything to minimize the potential for surprise. A visit to the chiropractor is quite a bit different than a visit to almost every other healthcare provider, and we understand that a lot of what we ask of you at the first visit may be things you have never experienced before. I want to encourage you to ask questions all along the way—if we can’t explain what we are doing, we shouldn’t be doing it!

One of those questions I am asked most often is “Will it hurt?”, which is a perfectly legitimate question. When performed correctly, an adjustment is usually not painful; in fact, it should be a relief! However, when there is a lot of inflammation in an area, for example, if you threw your back out lifting a box or woke with a crick in your neck, there is the potential for a little soreness with an adjustment. Most established patients will tell you that this momentary discomfort is well worth the benefits! Referring back to Rule Number One, though, if we are preparing to adjust you and you feel uncomfortable, speak up!

This brings me to my next point, which is that there are a myriad of different ways to deliver an adjustment. Most people benefit from the traditional chiropractic adjustment, which is a quick, accurate application of low force to a very specific area, but there are other ways to restore motion to a dysfunctional joint, as well. Chiropractic school is a very intensive program requiring around nine academic years of school, including one’s undergraduate degree (typically it is accomplished in a shorter time, as many schools are year-round), and by the time we graduate, we have both given and received hundreds of adjustments. The point I am making here is that we know what we are doing and how it should feel from your end. We also know when a different technique is warranted.

A comment I hear all the time at the first visit is “I’m not sure if I’m in the right place”. At your first appointment, we will do an exam to determine several things. What is wrong? Why are you in pain/experiencing certain symptoms? Is this a scenario where an adjustment could help? What method of adjusting is safe and effective for your specific case? We have spent countless hours studying anatomy and physiology, neurology, radiology, and diagnosis, and the board exams required to be a licensed chiropractor reflect that (read more here). We are trained to spot emergencies and insidious symptoms, and if the chiropractor is not the appropriate next stop in your journey toward feeling better, we will tell you. We will also help you figure out what to do next. This is part of our responsibility as healthcare providers.

One of the most common concerns surrounding chiropractic care is “Is it safe?”. Chiropractic care is safe and effective for many conditions. The risk of an adverse event is extremely low, and again, we are trained to spot emergency situations and contraindications to chiropractic care. The most common adverse effect to getting adjusted is some soft tissue soreness. This is generally because getting adjusted is a new experience, and it may take your muscles little bit to get used to it. This soreness usually goes away within a day, and we will give you some home care in the event that this happens. If you have concerns after you go home, give us a call or email us—we will talk through what you are experiencing.

The data supporting the safety of chiropractic care grows yearly. A June 2017 double-blind study in the Journal of Musculoskeletal Science and Practice(1) found that the most common adverse event, soft tissue soreness, occurred in approximately 11.3% of people who received chiropractic manipulative therapy (adjustments), and 8.5% of people experienced same-day tiredness. The study concluded that “AEs [adverse events] were mild and transient, and severe or serious AEs were not observed.” Another study, published in April 2017 in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease(2), found that there was “no excess risk of carotid artery stroke after chiropractic care,” and that “associations between chiropractic and PCP [primary care provider] visits and stroke were similar and likely due to patients with early dissection-related symptoms seeking care prior to developing their strokes,” when comparing over 15,000 cases of stroke over a nine-year period. Again, the risk of adverse events is low, the risk of serious adverse event is exceedingly low, and we are well-trained and equipped to determine who may be at risk for them. This is why we take a thorough history and perform an extremely detailed exam. It is also why our malpractice rates are some of the lowest in healthcare!

Primum non nocere; First, do no harm. We have your best interests at heart and genuinely want to help you feel better. Still feeling a little nervous about getting adjusted? Give us a call at (651)699-8610, and we can talk about it!


Wishing you peace and good health,
Dr. Eliason



1. Chaibi A, Benth JRŠ, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Adverse events in a chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial for migraineurs. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2017 Jun;29:66-71. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2017.03.003. Epub 2017 Mar 14. Retrieved from <www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov>.
2. Cassidy JD, Boyle E, Côté P, Hogg-Johnson S, Bondy SJ, Haldeman S. Risk of Carotid Stroke after Chiropractic Care: A Population-Based Case-Crossover Study. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2017 Apr;26(4):842-850. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2016.10.031. Epub 2016 Nov 21. Retrieved from <www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov>.