The Safety of the Chiropractic Adjustment
Noah Herbert, D.C., CCSP®
William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP
Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAMLP, DAAPM
A recent article released by Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School points to chiropractic care as a form of pain relief. There are currently many Americans that seek out chiropractors, but many people don’t realize the wide variety of treatments that a chiropractor can provide for pain relief. The article states “while the mainstay of chiropractic is spinal manipulation, chiropractic care now includes a wide variety of other treatments, including manual or manipulative therapies, postural and exercise education, ergonomic training (how to walk, sit, and stand to limit back strain), nutritional consultation, and even ultrasound and laser therapies. In addition, chiropractors today often work in conjunction with primary care doctors, pain experts, and surgeons to treat patients with pain.”
While this is nothing new for the chiropractic community, it may serve to further educate the public as to the many tools a chiropractor possesses to help patients. While the majority of research on chiropractic has focused on spinal manipulation, or adjustment of the spine, for pain relief, there have been studies done on the effectiveness of chiropractic for treating musculoskeletal pain, headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia (Harvard Health Publications).
The author goes on to state “a recent review concluded that chiropractic spinal manipulation may be helpful for back pain, migraine, neck pain and whiplash.” It should be pointed out there have been reports of serious complications, including stroke, but this has been shown to be extremely rare and some studies suggest this may not be directly caused by the treatment provided by the chiropractor (Harvard Health Publications).
Spinal manipulation, or adjustment of the spine, is a term used to describe providing a high velocity, low amplitude thrust to the vertebra. Chiropractors use this technique to correct the body’s spinal alignment to relieve pain and improve function and to allow the body to heal itself. Treatment usually takes between 10 to 20 minutes and most patients are scheduled 2-3 times per week initially. Patients generally see improvement of their symptoms in the first two to three weeks (Harvard Health Publications).
Harvard Medical School is now saying what chiropractors have been saying for over 100 years and although their article was based on pain, it does add more evidence to the false rhetoric of chiropractic patients having a greater risk of stroke. In the future, reports from Harvard and other medical academic institutions will embrace the growing body of scientific evidence of the varied maladies that respond to chiropractic care.
Harvard Health Publications. (2015). Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief. Retrieved from