Chiropractic Care Expert Forum
Post adjustment tingling and pain
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Questions in the Chiropractic Care Forum are being answered by Dr. Adam Tanase, a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic. Topics covered include Muscle Pain, Nerve Pain, Movement Disorders, Subluxation, Upper Cervical Care, Pain Management, Health Care Alternatives, and Wellness Care.

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Post adjustment tingling and pain

I went to a chiropractor 6 days ago and he adjusted my back for the first time. I have mild scoliosis but no pain or other problems. I am still experiencing a tingling sensation down my left arm and slight pain in the middle of my back. When he adjusted me there was a crunching sound, rather than the pop I have read about. Could I have nerve damage and will it heal on its own?

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Ingrid, thank you for writing. I'd like to congratulate you for looking into chiropractic care for the first time!

It's highly unlikely that a chiropractic adjustment caused any nerve damage. Patients who've had scoliosis for several years have spinal ligaments and muscles that have gotten comfortable being in an abnormal position. They've developed a really "bad habit."

The adjustive force full-spine chiropractors apply simply induce motion to fixated (stuck) segments of the spine. This might make some of those ligaments unhappy for a brief period of time. As for the tingling sensation in your arm, tingling isn't necessarily a bad thing...

Think about what you feel when your foot "falls asleep." This prickly sensation isn't the nerve "falling asleep" -- instead, it's actually the nerve "waking up" which is a good thing; it's a healthy response.

Depending on the condition of your spine, the manipulation applied could simply be waking up nerve fibers that haven't been functioning properly for a while. Plus, the nerves that control your arms are in the middle/lower portion of your neck -- not the middle of your back.

Be sure to inform your doctor of these sensations, however. Surprisingly enough, they could just be signs of improvement, not harm. If these adjustments continue to induce discomfort after multiple treatments, I would recommend finding a different chiropractor who uses another technique. There are dozens of chiropractic techniques to choose from, and you may respond more favorably to one over another. I compare it to dentistry. Some dentists are quite rough, while others seem to have a very gentle finesse.

A great patient education resource about painless adjusting techniques can be found at There's also a referral directory.

I hope this information helps you.

Warm wishes,
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