When Chiropractic Adjustments Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead)

When Chiropractic Adjustments Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead) Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

07 Feb When Chiropractic Adjustments Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead)

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If chiropractic adjustments are working for your pain, body, and life, YOU CAN STOP READING NOW.

At Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ, we are the ANTI-chiropractic chiropractors.


The chiropractors who don’t do chiropractic adjustments.

I’ve gotten the question enough over the years that I though’t I’d share why we don’t manipulate joints on Facebook Live (16 minutes).

If you don’t want to watch the video, read my story below.

How we serve at Barefoot Rehab has origins rooted in the story of a 5 year-old boy who just wanted to feel love.

By getting hit over the head with a couch cushion.

Imagine NOT Being Able to Take Care of Your Children

My parents’ divorce when I was 10 years old was quite traumatic for me.

I started having nightmares nightly that my dad died.

The psychotherapist who my mom brought me to in order to help me deal with my suffering ending up cursed off by me.

She asked me one day:

Why are you so miserable?

I answered:

I fucking hate it here.

The therapist told my mom:

Maybe you should let him move in with his father.

11 months after my mom moved 75 minutes away from my dad, she let me move back home with my dad.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom was an extremely loving person. The wound left by their split was deep enough that her love wasn’t able to save me and would take decades to heal.

Due to this trauma, I don’t remember much of my childhood.

One of my only memories as a kid was wrestling with my dad and brother on the ground.

We’d throw all of the cushions from the couch on the ground and he’d hit us with the cushions and throw us around.

Image result for gif kid hitting with couch cushions

My brother and I always wanted to wrestle more, but my dad’s back was messed up. He’d walk like a duck and say:

My back hurts. I can’t today.

He’d go to the chiropractor and feel better. I learned “these chiropractors help people.”

As a 5 year-old, I thought:

Dad can’t wrestle today. But this chiropractor will fix him so he can wrestle me tomorrow.

This first memory of how chiropractors helped my dad “love me” through wrestling stayed with me through my middle school, high school, and college education.

The Chiropractor Who Helped Me When I Tore a Muscle in My Back/Neck

Fitness and football were my saviors throughout high school and college.

My depression may have resulted in actual suicide if it weren’t for these outlets.

Who I am today is largely a result of being shaped by these paths.

I played college football at dear old Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

In my junior year, lifting in the summer before the fall season, I tore a muscle in my back and my right shoulder was permanently shrugged for a few days.

One of my roommates asked me:

Are you confused about something? Put your shoulder down.

Remembering a chiropractor had helped my dad, I found a chiropractor who did adjustments, electronic stimulation, and had me run on an underwater treadmill, which I thought was really cool.

Whether it was the treatment or time, it worked. I thought:

I can become a chiropractor and help football players, the dear sport I loved.

Soon enough, I was ready for the football season and I had this chiropractor to thank.

I applied for chiropractic school that fall so I could give to others what chiropractors had given my father and I.

Chiropractic Adjustments Can Help Everybody?

In chiropractic school at New York Chiropractic College (NYCC), my low back pain had gotten bad enough from over a decade of lifting and football that adjustments were no longer helping me.

When you’re a 1st or 2nd trimester student in chiropractic school, you get treated by the 7th and 8th trimester students under the guidance of practicing chiropractors so they can develop their technique and diagnostic skillset.

I would get adjusted, feel relief for a few hours or a few days, only to have the pain return at the same intensity it did before.

The chiropractic adjustments’ ineffectiveness in a sustainable way led to an existential crisis.

How am I supposed to serve a “medicine” that isn’t even helping me?

How can I get behind something I don’t fully believe in?

I went down a rabbit of hole, seeking HOW I could serve people with disease or in pain. I took tons of courses, shadowing tons of different chiropractors:

  • Mixed doctors who did physical therapy, ultrasound, electronic stimulation, and decompression.
  • Straight chiropractors who believe the adjustment heals all pain and disease.
  • Wellness doctors who implemented diet and fitness.
  • Energy healing doctors who touch the body with one finger and watch waves pulse through the body.

Many of these doctors did great work, but most were not congruent with how I wanted to serve people and the impact I wanted to have on people’s lives.

Side-Note: When you’re stuck in the paralysis of depression, you realize that you need a really huge reason, why, and purpose to get out of bed each morning. Being another chiropractor who adjusts while there are thousands around me serving in that exact same way never resonated with me. If I’m going to do something, I want it to deliver massive impact or I’d rather sit in the wallows of my depression.

My teachers were telling me at chiropractic school:

Who can you help with chiropractic? Everybody!


This message didn’t resonate with me. I hadn’t observed that chiropractic adjustments were helping me.

It would take me years to understand why chiropractic adjustments work the younger a person is and have less impact the more severe a person’s problem gets.

Finally, a messenger showed up.

A New Model for Permanent Pain Relief Shows Up

I was lucky enough to hear Dr. William Brady of Integrative Diagnosis speak at NYCC in 2008. I’ll never forget what he said.

I’m going to say something many of you won’t like. There are many people who you can’t help, AT ALL. But there are some people you can help in a MAJOR WAY. And that’s by treating ADHESION.

I started getting treated by Dr. Brady and experience immediate relief and relatively permanent range of motion changes.

When I started Barefoot Rehab in 2010, my practice grew rapidly because the patients I treated told everyone they knew about getting adhesion removed.

I achieved my desired result – permanent pain relief for patients in pain that lasted more than 48 hours.


Deep down, I was transformed.

Chiropractic adjustments helped my dad stay functional and wrestle with my brother and I to give me one of my fondest childhood memories.

But, if my dad had received adhesion treatment, he may have been able to wrestle with me 2-3x as much. As anyone who has been a child once might remember, it’s our parents’ spending of time with us that allows us to feel safe and loved.

A healthier back could’ve meant more love for me as a kid, which could’ve led to much less suffering in my own depression.

We’ll never know because we can’t go back in time.

My past has made me who I am, teaching me how I want to serve the world and what you’ll receive if you decide to see us at Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ.

You Won’t Get Chiropractic Adjustments

If you’ve had pain more than 6 months, even though you’ve seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists …

… and the pain is impacting your life in a major way …

… we can help you.

We have nothing against people who get chiropractic adjustments that are working for their bodies and lives.

But if the chiropractic adjustments are giving you 48 hours of relief or less, maybe it’s time for a new model of thinking.

At Barefoot Rehab, the goal we are playing for is PERMANENT relief.

It may not be 100% relief – it could be 25%, 50%, or 75%.

Regardless of how much relief is available to you, the cool thing about this is that you’ll experience this in as little as 1-8 treatments.

If you’re somebody who wants a pain-free body for the deeper purpose of:

  • being able to play with your kids on the ground,
  • work without nagging aches in your body, or
  • do your favorite exercise activity …

… reach out to us.

What has your experience been with chiropractic adjustments? Positive or negative?

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, fixes your annoying and frustrating pains, even when it's been over 6 months and you've seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists without lasting relief Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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  • Paul Watson
    Posted at 05:51h, 28 March Reply

    Hi Dr. Chris, having trawled through a myriad of health websites trying to find a solution to my 2 years chronic Achilles Tendinopathy I came across yours, what a relief to find a site with so much information regarding my condition and how to help recover.

    I have a question about the 1-7 pain scale, I think I’m at phase 1 where there’s no pain during exercise and slight discomfort within 24hrs, but when I press laterally on my relaxed Achilles‘ tendon there’s always tenderness?

    I stopped running 6 weeks ago when I had discomfort running for 8k’s. I’m 8 weeks into concentric heel drops 15x 3 twice a day and recently started taking 15g of Gelatin 1 hour before 6 mins of skipping to strengthen the Achilles’ tendons.

    Kind regards,

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 10:55h, 12 April Reply

      Hi Paul! You mean eccentric heal drops right? I’d take Wob-enzyme supplements as well. Just gradually increase load. Listen to body. Be smart. Make sure your body can handle the stressed you put on it. If you don’t have dorsiflexion of 6″, I’d see someone to fix that. : )

  • Cara Packer
    Posted at 17:02h, 07 July Reply

    Wow, I”m stuck on Alaska right now on the fishing boats but want to come here. (I live in Pa, not that far) I’ve had reoccurring hip pain for 3 years. No chiropractor had fixed it save for the first month after the adjustment. SICK of it!
    I think my issue started when i skipped the last two stairs going down the stairwell. I landed hard on my right foot and later felt tingling in my left. I went to a chiropractor who fixed it but my hip always reverts back to pain. It can be okay for awhile but then it goes through pain phases. I lift a lot for my job which doesn’t help and i just tried exercising for two days but had to quit because the pain in my hip flared up. It hurts just walking and especially waking up in the morning. I just want to run like i use to be able to do and have this stop plaguing my life. I also wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but that might not be possible for awhile.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 20:59h, 07 July Reply

      Hi Cara, Sorry about your hip troubles. Sounds like you could have multiple issues going on, but sounds like a disc issue shooting to your hip and pressing on sciatic nerve. We are here for you.

  • Regina Gordin
    Posted at 19:05h, 27 September Reply

    Hi Dr. Chris,
    I came across one if your videos on YouTube and thought I would look you up and write even though I had a bad chiro experience many years ago…
    I have had a pain in my butt (literally) for 2 years now.. it does not ever feel numb or tingly , nothing radiates down my leg and I have no back pain-just a deep strong ache in an isolated spot deep in gluteal area. Recently the pain has started to migrate to the groin area especially if I walk a lot or climb stairs. I fear I walk wrong to compensate for the pain… I had PT about a year ago (with little success) after going to an orthopedic surgeon to rule out bad hip/anything serious etc. I am back to PT after a referral from a physiatrist who gave me cortisone injections into several places in my buttock area that he called trigger points in piriformis. He says I need a series of 3 shots 2 weeks apart but I feel little relief after the first and just had my very painful secobd shot, so not sure I am a good candidate;(. Any ideas?

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 19:54h, 27 September Reply

      Sounds like a low back disc issue. I’d focus any treatment there. : )

  • Joel Van Heflen
    Posted at 22:38h, 02 November Reply

    Been wearing custom made foot orthotics for 10 months and thought I’d feel better. My left leg is 10mm shorter than my right, been getting work done by great Massotherapists who understand the issue (allegedly) Medical Drs tell me I have a disease and need a bunch of tests, but they’re full of it… An untrained eye can see my neck sags down toward the shorter leg and the slight scoliosis on Xray confirms the pattern of muscle imbalance based on my cervical looking like a game of Jenga and curves down to the tilted pelvis… The orthotics have given minimal relief but the massatherapy has reached it’s beneficial limit. Specific Chiro adjs are ok but I am stiff and weak thru out my thoracic and into lower cervical (tightest is T5 to C4) but tight everywhere.. Any advice for leg length difference that was let go for 40+ years?

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