Low back pain after chiropractic adjustment

Can I get low back pain after a chiropractic adjustment?

Chiropractic care is a relatively safe treatment option for patients with musculoskeletal pain, and is often sought for the treatment of low back pain. However, as with any health care intervention, there are always some potential risks and side effects.  These side effects relating to low back pain include:

  • 1 in 3 patients can experience an increase in their lower back pain or some generalised muscle soreness following treatment, but this is temporary and generally eases after 24 hours.
  • In some rare cases, injury to the ligaments or discs in the lower back may occur following treatment. The risk is approximately 1 in 62,000 to 1 in 188,000. This may lead to nerve pain, numbness or tingling in the trunk or down the legs.
  • Serious adverse events have been reported in very rare cases, such as bladder, bowel or erectile dysfunction (cauda equina syndrome), fractures, and vascular compromise. These serious adverse events have certain risk factors associated with them. This is why a full history and physical examination is performed before any treatment is administered. It means that your chiropractor can assess what treatments are suitable for your specific case, and discuss any potential risks/side effects with you.

Why does low back pain occur? 

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

  • If the patient was experiencing low back pain at the time of the appointment.
  • If the patient has a long history of low back pain. 
  • Reason or cause of the patient’s low back pain.
  • History of other medical conditions.
  • Taking certain medications
  • Type of chiropractic treatment techniques used by the chiropractor.

What can I do if I get low back pain after my chiropractic appointment? 

Some things you can try at home if you are experiencing some muscle soreness or mild increase in your pain are:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Go for a walk
  • Use a warm heat pack across your lower back. 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 nerve pain or numbness/tingling in your legs, severe low back pain following an appointment, or if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, please call the team on 9275 6095 to see if they can help, regardless of which Chiropractor you went to.

In the event that you are experiencing bowel, bladder or erectile dysfunction, or reduced sensation in the groin area following a chiropractic adjustment, please consider going to the emergency department.


  1. Walker BF, Hebert JJ, Stomski NJ, et al. Outcomes of usual chiropractic. The OUCH randomized controlled trial of adverse events. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2013;38:1723-9. doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e31829fefe4

  2. Hebert JJ, Stomski NJ, French SD, Rubinstein SM. Serious Adverse Events and Spinal Manipulative Therapy of the Low Back Region: A Systematic Review of Cases. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2015;38:677-91. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.05.009

  3. 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