When a joint needs to be adjusted, it usually means that the two opposing surfaces that make up the joint are stuck together. They are not stuck in a mechanical sense, but rather “suction” sense. Picture a suction cup on a mirror (the joint would be the interface between the suction cup and the mirror). When the joint suction is removed by hand, it makes a “popping” sound, just like pulling a suction cup off of a mirror! So, when a chiropractor adjusts your spine (or any other joint in your body), the sound is not a cracking, so much as a release of pressure.
Chiropractic adjustment techniques have been researched extensively. Complications are rare and side effects, such as temporary soreness, are usually minor. Your chiropractor is well trained to determine if your problem will respond to chiropractic care or if you require referral to another health care provider.
The short answer: no. Although the most common side effect of a chiropractor adjusting your spine may be soreness, it is generally very infrequent and minimal. Everybody reacts differently to an adjustment, but very few people find adjustments painful. If they do, it is not normally repeated. Chiropractors are trained to deliver spinal adjustments for a minimum of three years before being allowed to perform an adjustment (all of these years coming after an undergraduate degree). Many other professions also attempt to use adjustments (manipulations, as they are often called) as part of their treatment regimen, but generally have minimal training in doing so. Chiropractors are by far the most qualified professionals to deliver a spinal manipulation.
There are many answers to this question: Because the location of the pain is not normally the only site of dysfunction. The spine is the foundation of human movement. Without the ability to produce stability in certain areas of the spine and mobility in others, movement of the limbs becomes abnormal. This often leads to pain in areas with more complex function, such as the shoulder, knee, hip, or ankle. Adjusting the spine when appropriate can assure that your limbs have the right foundation off of which to operate. Because adjusting the spine can help prevent lots of problems. Research has shown that people who get adjusted regularly spend less time on medications, spend less time in the hospital, and experience a significant reduction in many common ailments such as headaches and knee pains.