At the initial visit, chiropractors ask for your health history. They will then perform a physical exam, and sometimes request X-rays. During the adjustment, the patient is placed in specific positions (facedown) on a padded table, lying on their side, or lying on their stomach. The chiropractor uses his or her hands to apply a controlled force to a joint, pushing it beyond its usual range of motion, often causing popping or cracking sounds.
Chiropractic adjustment can be safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional. Some people experience minor side effects like headache, fatigue or pain for a few days after an adjustment. Serious complications may include the worsening of a herniated disc, nerve compression in the lower spinal column (cauda equina syndrome) or a stroke (vertebral artery dissection) from neck manipulation.
Do not seek chiropractic adjustment if you have severe osteoporosis, numbness, tingling or loss of strength in an arm or leg, spine cancer or excessive spine motion and instability. As with any treatment, ask your doctor if chiropractic treatment is appropriate for your condition.