An adjustment is a chiropractic procedure that aims to realign misaligned vertebrae by hand. Here at Top Chiro, we focus on adjusting the upper cervical spine, due to its high level of mobility and high probability to misalign.
After your first adjustment, your body goes through a journey of adaptation, this can be a confusing time, with a few ups and downs before things start to settle.
In this blog, we will explore what to expect after your adjustment and shed light on common experiences during the healing process.
A Focus on Function Over Feelings
Upper cervical chiropractic emphasizes focusing on function rather than feelings. We do this because feelings can be subjective and don’t always accurately represent the changes happening in your body. The adjustment delivered will often be a completely new and unique input for your body! This will take time for your nervous system to get used to, which may cause confusing feelings you haven’t had before.
Differentiating Between Causes
After getting my first chiropractic adjustment, I realized how easy it is to jump to conclusions about what's causing our symptoms. Following the adjustment, I experienced a searing pain in my right jaw and face. I quickly blamed the adjustment and sought help. However, a medical consultation revealed that actually it was just my wisdom teeth coming through and they had gotten infected! I had attributed the pain to the wrong cause.
The human body is complex, with multiple processes and health problems often occurring simultaneously, therefore there's a lot going on that we don't understand, and it's easy to blame the most recent or unique intervention, like a chiropractic adjustment. But it's not always the case.
Common Positive Feelings Following a First Adjustment - What to Expect
Chiropractic aims on change alignment to restore regulation of the nervous system. Because the nervous system is what we use to feel, function, regulate and most importantly adapt, many changes can occur after an adjustment. Below are some positive effect you may experience:
- Better Sleep: Many clients find their sleep improves after their first adjustment. This is possibly due to an adjustments effect on the regulation of autonomic nervous system.
- Increased Neck Range of Motion: After an adjustment has been delivered, a biomechanical and neurological change has occurred. This can result in an increase in range of motion as the joints are now in a more optimal state of alignment.
- Reduced Symptoms/pain: We can see a good change in symptomology following the first adjustment, however this is more common after the 3rd-5th adjustment.
- A feeling of ‘reduced pressure’: Adjustments of the upper cervical region have been shown to help facilitate the movement of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to the rest of the spine. This can help reduce the pressure within the skull.
- Clearer Thoughts: Brain fog is a common problem among our clients. Lots of which report a reduction in brain fog following their first adjustment.
Common Odd Feelings Following a First Adjustment - What to Expect
Healing is not a linear process. Before you experience the great benefits of chiropractic, it is common to hit a dips and bumps as your body is adapting to the changes made. Listed below are some things you may experience:
- Symptomatic Increase: Healing is not always a linear process, and you might experience ups and downs during your recovery journey. This is often common for headache and migraine sufferers, of which normally experience an increase in intensity and decrease in frequency following their first few adjustments.
- Mildly Increased Neck Pain or Tightness: After a correction in your neck, you might experience short-term pain or tightness as your body adjusts to the new position. This is normal and should subside gradually.
- Mild Nerve Pain or Tingling: As stress is relieved from the nervous system, you may experience tingling or twinging in certain areas of your body. This is common as the nerves accommodate to the change.
- Mild Dizziness and Double Vision: These sensations might occur 24-48 hours after the adjustment due to the improvement in the function of the brainstem. They are typically short-lived and should stabilize soon.
- Feeling of Something "Not Right" in the Neck: After an adjustment, your neck may feel different or "off." This feeling is temporary and should improve with rest and support for your head. Often this feeling is caused by a change in tone of the muscles in your neck. These muscles anchor the misalignment in place. But when an adjustment is delivered and alignment changes, these muscles will relax, and others will tense up. This can cause an odd feeling in the neck.
- Low back pain: Misalignments in the upper cervical spine cause muscular compensations all the way down the spine. These often can cause the pelvis to unlevel, pulling one leg up and making it shorter than the other. Adjustments change muscle tone which in turn will alters the muscular compensations throughout your spine, this can cause pain as your body adapts to the newer and more even load.
How to Help Speed Up the Adaptation Period
Everyone’s adaptation period differs, as every person is wonderfully unique. However, there are things we all can do to help.
- Get Plenty of Rest: Both immediately following your adjustment and for the rest of the day, it is important to rest. For the body to heal and repair it is important for it to be in a parasympathetic ‘restful’ state. While resting opt for low impact positions like on your back or side with your head and low back supported by pillows. This will help support the neck as things change.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids: The body needs water to be able to function properly, ensuring you are properly hydrated will help with the recovery process.
- Avoid Self Adjusting/Clicking your neck: This can hinder your recovery as it introduces new forces during the fragile adaptation period. Controlled direction and magnitude are very important when adjusting your neck which is why it is important to have it performed by a professional.
- Enjoy calm and low-impact exercise: Once the initial rest period is over, it important to keep the body moving. Humans were not designed to be sedentary. Daily walks are a great way to help keep your nervous system actively recover.
Healing is a process that varies for everyone, and it is essential to be patient with your body as it adapts to the changes brought about by the adjustment.
At Top Chiropractic, we understand that healing is not always a straightforward path and that adjustments bring significant neurological changes. Therefore, it's completely normal to experience some discomfort or unusual sensations as your body adapts. However, we are here to support you during this period whether you are experiencing positive or negative feelings. So, rest assured and get do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
If you have any questions and would like to book a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Luke, please click here!
If you would like to read more about chiropractic, feel free to explore our blog posts here.