The Pros And Cons Of Spinal Manipulation

The Pros And Cons Of Spinal Manipulation

You may have heard of spinal manipulation, also called chiropractic adjustment, manual therapy, or manipulative therapy. And if you’re currently in Florida, you may have heard it from the locals as this state is known as the chiropractor capital of the US.

To better understand what it is, spinal manipulation is a technique used to apply force at certain points in the spine. It’s often performed in conjunction with physical therapy, exercise, massage, and joint manipulation to address issues with a person’s bones and muscles. Chiropractors and other healthcare professionals like osteopathic physicians and occupational therapists typically perform this technique.

If you’re experiencing a stiff back, a severe headache, or bothersome neck pain, you might be considering this treatment option. However, you’re still unsure if it’s the best way to relieve your pain. To determine if it is, continue reading to discover its pros and cons.


Here are the pros of having spinal manipulation:

Pain Relief

Spinal adjustment is a technique that involves gently applying force to certain sections of the spine. It can help relieve pain, particularly in the back and neck. It is also believed to help alleviate headaches.

Unfortunately, the exact way in which spinal adjustment relieves pain is not fully understood yet. However, it is believed to work by lessening inflammation, improving nerve function, relaxing muscles, and releasing endorphins, which are pain-relieving hormones.

Spinal adjustment is generally safe and effective. However, if you want it, be sure to consult a qualified Palm Beach chiropractor—if you’re really in Florida—or a healthcare professional trained in this technique.

Improved Joint Mobility

Spinal manipulation can improve a person’s joint mobility because it can reduce inflammation, break up adhesions, and realign the vertebrae. Here’s a quick rundown of why this happens:

  • Inflammation can cause stiffness and pain and limits a joint’s range of motion. Spinal manipulation may reduce it and improve joint mobility concurrently.
  • Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that can form between joints and restrict their motion. With spinal manipulation, these adhesions can be broken up.
  • The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. If the vertebrae are misaligned, it can cause pain and restrict the range of motion. Spinal manipulation can help realign the vertebrae, which can improve joint mobility.

Improved joint mobility is often considered a ’bonus’ for spinal manipulation. After all, most of the other popular physiotherapy procedures that chiropractors do on a person’s body often affect joints.

Spinal Manipulation
Physiotherapist doing manipulation to man patient. Osteopathy.

Quick Procedure

Fortunately, spinal manipulation is a quick procedure. The treatment may last a few minutes to half an hour. However, the number of sessions needed depends on the condition and individual response.

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Do note that some practitioners may prescribe some exercises you need to perform on your own to improve the effectiveness of the treatment.


Meanwhile, here are the cons:

Risk Of Adverse Side Effects

As spinal manipulation isn’t fully understood yet, there’s always a risk of side effects or complications. The risk of experiencing side effects from spinal manipulation is low, but it’s not zero. People with underlying conditions may be at a higher risk of experiencing side effects.

Some likely side effects of spinal manipulation are headache, stiffness, or bruising. These side effects often go away on their own within a few days. However, in very rare cases, spinal manipulation may cause serious complications, such as stroke or spinal cord injury.

If you experience any side effects after spinal manipulation, see your doctor or chiropractor immediately.

Lack Of Scientific Consensus

There is no scientific consensus on the effectiveness of spinal manipulation for back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. Some studies have shown that spinal manipulation can be effective, while others have shown that it is no more effective than placebo treatment.

Unfortunately, there is a need for long-term studies examining spinal manipulation’s sustained benefits, making it challenging to evaluate its long-term effectiveness.

Sadly, the quality of research on spinal manipulation is often poor, and it’s difficult to study its effectiveness because it’s a complex treatment with many variables. However, some people do find that spinal manipulation is helpful.

Ultimately, whether or not to try spinal manipulation is a personal decision. If you plan to get one, talk to your doctor or a chiropractor about the risks and benefits of spinal manipulation before deciding.

Variable Practitioner Skill

One of the biggest challenges when getting a spinal manipulation is finding a reliable and reputable chiropractor or practitioner. The result and efficacy of the treatment heavily hinge on them, together with your pain tolerance, condition severity, and compliance with the treatment plan.

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Remember: improper technique can lead to adverse effects, so choosing a qualified and experienced professional is essential.


Those are the pros and cons of spinal manipulation. Thankfully, there’s little risk in trying it out. So, if you’re feeling a bit blue because of your back pain, you may want to consider getting treated by getting it from a professional chiropractor.