Why Do I Have a Headache After the Chiropractor?

It’s not at all uncommon for a new patient to come back after their first adjustment and tell me they’ve had a mild headache at some point since the adjustment, often in the evening after that initial adjustment. When I was very new to practice this was unsettling for me and the patient, however, I now understand that experiencing a headache after a chiropractic adjustment is a fairly common occurrence known as “post-adjustment soreness.” Here are a few reasons why you might be experiencing this:

1. Muscle Tension Release:

During a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor may apply pressure to specific points in your spine to realign vertebrae. This can release muscle tension that has built up over time. The sudden release of tension can sometimes cause a headache as your body adjusts to the new positioning and has not yet adapted to the changes.

2. Dehydration:

It’s important to stay well-hydrated, especially after a chiropractic adjustment, on top of living in a high-altitude desert climate. Dehydration can exacerbate muscle tension and lead to headaches. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to support your body’s recovery and I always remind patients to drink extra water after their first adjustment for this reason.

3. Reactions to Changes:

Your body may be reacting to the changes made during the adjustment process. It’s not uncommon for some individuals to experience a temporary headache as their body adapts to the realignment of the spine. This can include toxin release from tissues, neurological sensitivities, and other physiological changes.

4. Stress Relief:

Chiropractic adjustments can also release built-up stress in the body. As your muscles relax and realign, headaches can occur as your body responds to the release of stress. Remember, even though we talk about the body, mind, and spirit in separate parts, they are all connected, and the influence we have on the nervous system when working on the spine may aid in stress relief but also “bring some stuff up.” This typically occurs in the first several visits and stabilizes more throughout care.

5. Temporary Discomfort:

In some cases, the headache may be a sign that your body is realigning and healing. Temporary discomfort after an adjustment is common and should subside within a day or two. Often I find my patients have great relief in one area only to then find more discomfort in an area that wasn’t bothering them at all and that we didn’t even work on. For example, I commonly see people notice tension in their head and upper back more after we re-align their neck and pelvis, as time goes on the spine and body adapt and this quickly changes as well.

It’s important to note if you’re experiencing persistent or severe headaches after chiropractic adjustments, it’s important to communicate with your chiropractor. A good Chiropractor will often be able to modify their care and how they treat/adjust you while still getting a great outcome. If you are getting neurological symptoms such as dizziness or numbness and tingling you may need to go to the emergency room, however, this is highly unlikely to happen statistically speaking. Research has shown “no significant association between exposure to chiropractic care and the risk of VBA stroke. We conclude that manipulation is an unlikely cause of VBA stroke.”

How do you treat Headaches after the chiropractor?

There are several ways to address your post-adjustment headache, which include:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Listening to your body
  • Resting
  • Consistent chiropractic care

As a CORRECTIVE CARE CHIROPRACTOR, everyone in my practice has had their spine examined with imaging to provide guidance on potential causes of their symptoms and offer personalized recommendations to help alleviate their symptoms. This way there is no guesswork and we get a quicker more efficient and effective outcome. NUCCA is a big part of this and why we help so many people with their chronic headaches, migraines, vertigo, and other spinal conditions. Remember, everyone’s body responds differently to adjustments, so it’s crucial to listen to your body and communicate any concerns with your healthcare providers.

If you’ve been struggling to find a type of chiropractic care that is not too rough and causes less turbulence afterward in your body, consider Koru Chiropractic Corrective Care and a consultation with one of our Doctors to see if we may be able to help you more!

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