Risks of Chiropractic Care

What’s the risks?

Chiropractic Care does have some known risks. It’s part of the reason why we are regulated as a profession. Thankfully the risk of anything really serious is known to be very low, but there are some considerations that are worth knowing about before deciding whether Chiropractic care is right for you. Instead of leaving you to Dr Google and the realms of bad information on social media, we thought it wise to write this blog post.Of course, we are happy to discuss any queries you have with you at our initial consultation session.

How safe is Chiropractic care?

Chiropractic is a safe and effective, especially when performed by a good practitioner that is properly trained, regulated and insured.

Chiropractic is a viable treatment option for a number of conditions with low risk. Studies suggest there is a one in a million chance of a risk of serious complication occurring with low back adjustments, for example. Whilst still an important risk to consider it is notably less than many other modalities, including many medications including ‘quick fix’ pain relief such as NSAIDS)

There are known side effects to care and these are relatively common. These include feeling tired, sleepy, thirsty or achey after an adjustment session. We find these tend to be worst with the first few sessions of care, but tend to go after a few hours

Risks of Chiropractic Care

Choosing the right technique

Some treatment modalities may appear more aggressive or risky than others. In all honesty however, the whole of Chiropractic aims to make changes within your body and this can in itself contain a risk, no matter how small.

“The key thing we say to patients is that there is always another way to do something in Chiropractic and that consent is king. If something isn’t appropriate a Chiropractor should have the skills and expertise to know when not to perform an adjustment as much as when to perform an adjustment. Similarly, a patient is entitled to withdraw consent or opt out of treatment at any time. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.” explains James Harrison, Principal Chiropractor and Owner at Connective Chiropractic in Basingstoke.

“We are known for techniques and approaches that feel lighter than some others, but they can be deceptive. The techniques we use often allow us to assist where others could be considered more risky. As with most things, however, one size doesn’t fit all and the role of a Chiropractor is to ascertain what is appropriate and what is not, so that they help you (in line with everyones expectations) as opposed to making matters worse, beyond that of the known side effects.”

Red Flags in Chiropractic care

It probably goes without saying that some conditions present greater challenges or risks to receiving Chiropractic care. These are known in the profession as ‘red flags’. A patient with a known red flag may, in some circumstances, still be seen but often there is a need to explain risks further and to keep an eye on consent and appropriateness at all times.

Examples of general red flags could include severe circumstances of Osteoporosis (brittle bones), bone cancers or bone deformities. They may also include previous illnesses such as heart attacks or strokes, depending on the circumstances. Similarly certain type of arthritis, neurological or structural issues may also create increased risks that may be deemed as ‘red flags’.

Examples of possible red flags that may not always mean Chiropractic care needs to stop include chronic or life-long conditions where Chiropractic care forms part of a patient’s wider palliative care or self management. In these circumstances the Chiropractic care should be adapted to reduce risks, where possible.

Relative red flags or contraindications (reasons not to adjust) can also occur. An example here would be around a localised area of spinal fusion or surgery. In these circumstances, it would be deemed riskier to adjust those areas, but safe to adjust other areas that are not involved.

All red flags should be discussed with you at your initial consultation or report of findings session as part of a wider discussion about the rationale or appropriateness of your care at Connective Chiropractic.

Mention your pre-existing conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, certain risks may increase and so need to be considered. It’s for this reason we take a detailed medical history and examine you prior to offering you any care. It is actually pretty essential that you provide accurate information regarding your medical history, so that we can know how best to direct your care and explain risks and alternatives to you so that you can properly inform any consent you may need to give in order to proceed with care.

Research in Chiropractic care risks

There is always more research to be done in regards to the risks of Chiropractic. It is out of the scope of this blog post to mention all risks or research. However it is the intention of the blog to note some risks and the attempt to raise awareness of them and the steps both Chiropractor and Patient should take to reduce them.


Alternatives to Chiropractic care

Chiropractic isn’t always appropriate. There are times when other types of care are more suitable or of less risk. In these circumstances it’s always safer, where possible, to take a more conservative or multi-modal approach.

Examples of other alternatives may include diet, exercise or lifestyle advice (eg: workplace ergonomics, home-care planning), heat or cold therapy, talking therapies (such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy or hypnotherapy), massage or laser amongst others.

Your Chiropractor will explain any such alternatives as required when coming up with a suitable care plan during your report of findings session: We will explain why we think Chiropractic care may or may not be suitable for you at this time and any next steps or referrals to take from there.

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Connective Chiropractic Ltd,
55 Kingsclere Road,
RG21 6XG

01256 639 452


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Registered Company (10788728) in England & Wales, Registered Address: 55 Kingsclere Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire. RG21 6XG.

Site content last edited 11 September 2023 (Version 1.4) (Version 1.0 - 1st November 2017). Last update Monday 11 September 2023

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