Chiropractic adjustments can alleviate neck and back pain. A licensed chiropractor will use spinal manipulation to improve spinal mobility, the nervous system, and the body’s functionality. However, some patients may get a headache after a chiropractic adjustment. These severe headaches are uncommon, temporary, and subside quickly. Keep reading to find out why these headaches occur and what causes them. 

Why do headaches happen after getting a chiropractic adjustment?

Your spine serves as a busy pathway for chemical signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When your spine is misaligned, these chemical signals are blocked, and a kink in the spine causes the accumulation of chemicals around your vertebrae and muscles joints. As your chiropractor removes the subluxations, it can cause the release of these chemical signals and toxins. As the body adjusts to its new environment, normal chemicals flow, and toxin release can overwhelm your body, causing temporary headaches. Additionally, you may also experience cold-like symptoms. Typically, these headaches go away on their own, but if the headaches persist, you can use over-the-counter medications or an ice pack.

How do I manage headaches following a chiropractic adjustment?

If you have a history of headaches and you take a prescribed medication for them, take the medicine with you while visiting your chiropractor. If this is your first visit with your chiropractor, they won’t necessarily be able to predict what, if any, side effects you may experience. Therefore, new patients are asked to remain in the office after the treatment to check for any post-adjustment side effects. The chiropractor can help you manage your headaches or other related symptoms that may occur after your appointment. For most patients, the headache subsides on its own, but treatments like ice packs and over-the-counter medications can help treat a headache. If you regularly experience headaches after chiropractic care, taking over-the-counter medication before the treatment may benefit you.    

Can a chiropractic adjustment treat chronic headaches?

Potential, temporary headaches should not keep you away from the tremendous health benefits of chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic care can alleviate headaches, in addition to back, neck, and muscular pain. Your chiropractor can effectively treat various headaches through spinal manipulation, including tension headaches. Chiropractic care can facilitate long-term relief from headaches, because our bodies tend to respond well to non-invasive treatments.

Are headaches after the chiropractic adjustment a good sign?

Headache after the spinal manipulation is a sign that your body is recovering; it tells you that spinal subluxations have been corrected. 

Are strokes common after neck manipulation?

Specifically, high-velocity neck manipulation can lead to a vertebral artery dissection, which can cause posterior circulation stroke. 

What are the side effects of neck adjustment?
  • Muscle soreness
  • Potential provocation of a disk herniation
  • Stroke or paralysis
  • Restriction of blood vessels
  • Bone fracture
How can I ease a tension headache after chiropractic care?
  • Try to reduce your personal stress levels
  • Decrease the time you spend looking down on your phone, i.e. “texting posture”
  • Take short breaks on long drives
  • Sleep on your back to keep your neck in a neutral position
  • Do exercises and stretches regularly
Final Thoughts

Side effects following chiropractic care are not common. However, you may experience headaches or flu-like symptoms after the adjustment, which are temporary and can resolve after some time. If you have a severe headache, talk to your chiropractor as soon as possible.