Why Am I Sore After Chiropractor Visits? 

“Why am I sore after chiropractic visits?” you may ask. Whether you need to recover from an accident, have back pain from working at home in an uncomfortable chair, or simply want to maintain good health, seeing a chiropractor can do wonders for you. But the experience of a chiropractic adjustment might not be what you expect, especially if you feel worse after the visit. 

We’ll get this out of the way first: It’s totally normal and common to feel sore after chiropractor visits, especially if you’re new to this type of care. For most people, any soreness is temporary, and the more frequently you see the doctor, the less likely you will have any side effects from treatment. Still, because it can be alarming to feel more—or new—pain and discomfort after an adjustment, this post explains why it happens and what you can do to reduce soreness. 

Is It Normal To Be Sore After Chiropractor Appointments? 

Chiropractic adjustments, or spinal manipulation, involve the doctor using their hands and devices to apply force on your spinal joints to restore proper alignment. With proper spinal alignment, your spine and body can move and function as they should. 

The intensity of the spinal adjustments varies depending on the extent of your misalignment, how long the spine has been out of position, and the individual doctor’s approach. The more extreme the adjustment, the more likely you’ll feel sore after the chiropractor visit. Some people even bruise after treatment due to the intensity of the adjustment. 

Several factors can make you feel sore after getting treatment at the chiropractor’s office. 

Engaging Understimulated Muscles 

When your body feels out of balance, you tend to use the same muscles every day while others go unused. Adjusting the spine engages the underused and understimulated muscles, which can cause soreness in the first day or two. As your body acclimates to using all its muscles, they get stronger and less likely to feel sore after an adjustment. 

Balancing Overstimulated Muscles 

The muscle adaptation that occurs when your spine falls out of alignment can also cause overstimulated muscles, which might feel sore or painful before the visit. A spinal adjustment creates better balance, alleviating the strain on the overused tissue and distributing the load to all the muscles. This improved balance helps reduce pain in time, but you might continue to have some soreness while the damaged muscle fibers heal.

It Takes Time To Adjust to Alignment 

Living with a misaligned spine can cause you to eventually get used to the feeling; some people might not experience any discomfort at all because the state of their spine feels normal to them. They may only realize this issue when a chiropractor adjusts their joints. A significant change like this can cause short-term soreness as your body adjusts to its new position. 

Adjusting to the correct spinal position can also trigger changes in the flow of chemicals throughout your body and cause a headache. In general, the longer you go without addressing spinal alignment, the more likely you will feel sore after chiropractor visits, at least at first. 

Other Side Effects of Chiropractic Care 

Because chiropractic treatments are drug-free, they don’t typically have the same number or severity of side effects as other treatments. Still, some individuals report issues in addition to soreness after adjustments, mostly from internal changes to the body as it moves toward proper function. 

Some of these temporary side effects include:


Some patients report feeling excessively tired after an adjustment. The consensus among doctors reveals that fatigue comes from your body fighting off the toxic chemicals released from your joints during the adjustment. When you hear a popping sound (called cavitation), for example, it means your joints release carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen, which your body then works to get rid of. 


Some people develop symptoms that feel like a cold or flu after an adjustment. When this happens, you aren’t actually ill, but realigning your spine triggers your immune system to fight off any viruses or bacteria in your body. You would likely get sick even without an adjustment, but the treatment simply sped up the process and can help you get better sooner. 

Digestive Issues 

Health professionals note a direct connection between your digestive system and the vertebrae in your lower back. So it’s common for a chiropractic adjustment to cause a temporary change to your bathroom habits, especially if you already have IBS or constipation issues. 

For most people, soreness occurs within 24 hours of an adjustment and only lasts for a day or two. Call the doctor if the pain lasts longer than a few days or worsens.

Reducing the Risk of Discomfort After an Adjustment 

Although some patients feel sore after chiropractor visits, it doesn’t have to happen. You can reduce the risk of this “side effect” by taking care of yourself before and after the appointment.

Drink Plenty of Water

Did you know that most people don’t drink enough water? Drinking plenty of water throughout the day plays a critical role in avoiding dehydration and supporting your overall health, including how much pain and fatigue you experience. Chiropractors recommend increasing your fluid intake before and after your appointment to reduce the risk of soreness. 

When you stay hydrated, your body can eliminate toxins more quickly, helping prevent spinal adjustment-related discomfort. Your muscles and joints also remain lubricated and move more easily. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

Like drinking water, eating nutrient-rich, healthy food is critical to your overall well-being. It’s especially important to make healthy choices after a chiropractic adjustment since the nutrients help your muscles heal faster, reducing your pain.

Get Rest

Take it easy and get a good night’s sleep after a chiropractic adjustment to help your body heal. The more intense the adjustment, the more your muscles need to recover, and sleep offers one of the best ways to support the natural healing process. 

Perform Some Light Stretches 

Gentle stretches can help reduce soreness and prevent stiff muscles. Ask your doctor for some suggestions on safe stretches that will help you stay limber and prevent pain. 

Stay Consistent

It can be tempting to avoid the chiropractor if you leave your session feeling like you went ten rounds with Mike Tyson, but you need to stay on track with your treatment plan. The more you get into proper alignment—and stay there—the less further adjustments will hurt.

Visit Sunrise Chiropractic for the Best Chiropractic Care in Sacramento, CA

Chiropractic care can help improve your quality of life by reducing pain, improving your range of motion and mobility, reducing inflammation, and even improving your mood—even after just one visit. Your doctor will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your current issues and helps keep them from returning. 

If concerns about feeling sore after chiropractor visits keep you from getting help, discuss them with a doctor. They can alleviate your worries and offer tips on how to reduce and manage any discomfort after a visit.

For effective and compassionate chiropractic care in the Sacramento, CA, area, call (916) 727-6400 to make an appointment with Dr. Doug Loehrer at Sunrise Chiropractic. We can help you achieve optimal health and lasting pain relief. 

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