Chiropractic Care for Back Pain: Pros and Cons

As a Back Pain Specialist will tell you, ‘chiropractic adjustment,’ refers to a procedure during which a trained specialist (chiropractor), uses their hands, (and on some occasions, a small instrument), in order to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. The aim of the latter, (which is also known as spinal manipulation), is to ameliorate spinal movement, and boost the body’s physical functioning [1]

The Low-Down

On the pro side, in the UK: “chiropractors are extensively trained to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, and muscles), as well as the effects these disorders can have on the nervous system and general health. Qualified individuals in this industry are working as fully regulated healthcare professionals with at least four years of training” [2].

“Chiropractic adjustment can be effective in treating low back pain, although much of the research done shows only a modest benefit — similar to the results of more-conventional treatments. Not everyone responds to chiropractic adjustments. A lot depends on your particular situation” [1]. On the plus side, it is a natural therapy which does not have the side effects of some medication. However, in some cases, patients could be subject to minor side effects, for several days post- chiropractic adjustment. These could involve having a headache or feeling tired; as well as experiencing pain in the areas of the body that were treated. In some instances, the chiropractor will tell the patient to apply an ice pack on certain areas that were treated.

According to research undertaken by the Mayo Clinic: “chiropractic adjustment is safe when it is performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care. Serious complications associated with chiropractic adjustment are overall rare, but may include:
• A herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation
• Compression of nerves in the lower spinal column
• A certain type of stroke after neck manipulation” [1]

Contraindications to Seeking Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic adjustment is not advisable for anyone who has:
• Cancer of the spine
• An elevated risk of stroke
• Severe osteoporosis
• Tingling or numbness in an arm or leg
• Loss of strength in a leg or arm
• A diagnosed bone abnormality in the upper neck [1]

In these aforementioned six cases, it is important to discuss your options for ameliorating your back pain, with a Pain Consultant. They will review your medical history; ask you a number of pertinent questions; and arrange any necessary tests or scans. – After this, they will compile a holistic Personalised Treatment Plan, which you can get started on right away.

A Study on Chiropractic Care For Lower Back Pain

Published in 2018, this six week study comprised 750 active-duty military personnel who suffered from back pain. Fifty percent of the subjects were randomly assigned to receive normal care, including physical therapy, self-care, and pharmaceuticals [all of which are recommended by Pain Consultants], while the remaining fifty percent were given normal care, with the addition of up to 12 chiropractic treatments [2].

Once the subjects had undergone six weeks of treatment, the patients who were assigned chiropractic treatments:
• Reported a reduction in pain intensity
• Experienced less disability and ameliorated function
• Noted greater satisfaction with their treatment
• Required less pain medicine [2]

Bottom Line

Of note, all studies have limitations, and whilst this aforementioned study lends support for treating lower back pain using chiropractic, it is important to recognise that it has many limitations. Furthermore, due to a lack of recent comprehensive studies, the need for more up-to-date in-depth research on chiropractic, is essential.

Looking at Back Pain Treatment Through a Positive Lens

Fortunately, at this juncture in time, there is a plethora of both conventional and cutting-edge treatments and therapies available for those suffering from back pain. In many cases, different treatment modalities will be recommended in your Personalised Treatment Plan. Moreover, leading Pain Doctors who work with a multi-disciplinary team, will ensure that you will receive the best possible available treatment from both themselves, and other top professionals.


[1]. Mayo Clinic (2022). “Chiropractic Adjustment.”

[2]. Shmerling, R. H. “Should You See a Chiropractor For Low Back Pain?” Harvard Health.