headache after a chiropractic appointment

Can headaches happen after a chiropractic appointment?

A small number of people (approximately 20%) can experience a headache following a chiropractic appointment. Chiropractic care is a relatively safe treatment option for patients with musculoskeletal pain; however, as with any health care intervention, there are always some potential side effects.   Generally, headaches are mild and can last for up to 24 hours after the appointment. For those who have experienced a headache after an appointment, it does not necessarily mean it will happen after every appointment.

Why do these headaches occur?

Research shows that the possibility of headaches occurring after a chiropractic appointment can potentially be due to a number of factors including:

  • If the patient was experiencing neck pain, headaches or jaw pain at the time of the appointment.
  • If the patient has a long history of neck pain and headaches. 
  • History of smoking
  • Taking certain medications
  • Type of chiropractic treatment techniques used by the chiropractor. 
  • Headaches following treatment to the neck and/or jaw area during the appointment is more common than following treatment to the midback or lower back.

What can I do if I get a headache after my chiropractic appointment?

Some things you can try at home are:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Go for a walk
  • Use a warm heat pack across the top of your shoulders and the back of your neck. Make sure it is wrapped in a small towel to avoid heat burns.
  • If you have specific exercises prescribed by your chiropractor, you can try doing some of those.

If you are experiencing severe headaches or dizziness following an appointment, or if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, please call the team on 9275 6095 to make a follow up appointment with your chiropractor.


  1. Cagnie, B. et al. (2004). How common are side effects of spinal manipulation and can these side effects be predicted? Manual Therapy 9: 151-156

  2. Ernst, E. (2007). Adverse effects of spinal manipulation: a systematic review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 100: 330-338. 

  3. Rubinstein, S.M. et al. (2008). Predictors of adverse events following Chiropractic care for patients with neck pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 31(2): 94-103.

Frequently asked questions about chiropractic