Chiropractors assess people individually and customize treatment based on the severity of the issue. Minor issues may require a single adjustment, while chronic conditions may require multiple sessions to achieve lasting relief.

Chiropractic adjustments, or spinal manipulations, are popular treatments for musculoskeletal issues, including neck and back pain, headaches and migraine, and even poor posture and mobility.

These adjustments involve manual manipulation of the spine and other body parts, aiming to realign joints, reduce inflammation, and improve overall function.

While there are some guidelines on determining treatment frequency, experts generally agree more research is necessary to determine the ideal length and frequency of chiropractic sessions.

This article examines the risks and benefits of chiropractic adjustments, how chiropractors determine treatment frequency, and more.

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Chiropractic adjustment frequency varies depending on individual needs and the severity of the condition. While some people may find relief after just one session, others may require multiple adjustments over several weeks or months.

Factors, such as age, overall health, lifestyle, and the duration of the underlying issue, may play crucial roles in determining the optimal frequency of adjustments.

For instance, current clinical recommendations for treating lower back pain are:

  • 2 to 3 sessions per week for 2 to 4 weeks for acute and subacute lower back pain
  • 1 to 6 sessions per episode of mild exacerbation
  • 2 to 3 sessions per week for 2 to 4 weeks for moderate-to-severe exacerbation

There is research supporting these recommendations, too.

For example, during a 3-month observational study from 2021, researchers examined outcomes of chiropractic care for chronic spinal pain and found significant improvement in chronic lower back pain when people received chiropractic treatment more than once per week.

However, as another observational study from 2020 points out, there are a variety of predictors of visit frequency, including stage of care and insurance coverage.

With qualified professionals, chiropractic adjustments are typically safe. Common, temporary side effects include:

More severe side effects may include neurological and spinal issues or tears affecting the arteries in the neck, which may lead to a stroke.

However, these severe risks are rare, and current research does not provide an accurate estimate of their likelihood.

Benefits of chiropractic adjustments may include:

According to a 2019 scoping review, there is no universal standard for the frequency and duration of spinal manipulation treatment. The frequency may depend on the chiropractor’s experience.

The review concludes that spinal manipulation frequency does not significantly affect treatment outcomes. However, they emphasize that further research is necessary to explore this further.

Learn more about the benefits of chiropractic care.

Signs someone may benefit from a chiropractic adjustment include:

Someone experiencing these symptoms may want to consider consulting a healthcare professional to discuss whether chiropractic treatment is right for them.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about chiropractic treatments.

How long do the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment last?

This may vary from person to person and depend on factors, such as the underlying condition, lifestyle habits, and adherence to the recommended treatment plan.

While some people experience immediate relief that lasts for weeks, months, or even permanently, others may require regular maintenance adjustments to sustain the long-term benefits.

Can someone go to the chiropractor too much?

While chiropractic care is generally safe, excessive or overly forceful adjustments can lead to over-manipulation syndrome, which may cause symptoms, such as chronic pain and muscle spasms.

A person must follow a chiropractor’s recommendations and avoid seeking unnecessary adjustments.

No standard of care describes how frequently someone should see a chiropractor, and the frequency of treatment may depend on a specific chiropractor’s experience.

If people have concerns about the frequency of their chiropractic treatments or they experience adverse side effects following sessions, they can speak with a healthcare professional for further help.

Is going to the chiropractor 3 times a week too much?

Not necessarily. Chiropractic adjustments require time for the body to adjust and heal between sessions, but it is not unusual for a chiropractor to initially recommend up to three visits a week for acute or subacute pain or severe exacerbation.

However, treatment frequency may vary over time and may depend on the underlying reason for treatment. A chiropractor will assess a person’s condition and recommend an appropriate schedule based on their specific needs.

Determining the ideal frequency of chiropractic adjustments depends on various factors, including the severity of the condition, the individual’s health status, and treatment goals.

One adjustment may suffice for minor issues, but chronic conditions may require regular maintenance care. Treatment frequency may also depend on other factors, such as insurance coverage and a chiropractor’s experience.

People can speak with a chiropractor and other healthcare professionals to determine how often they should receive chiropractic adjustments.