Chiropractic after Spinal Fusion

It’s not unusual to consider seeing a chiropractor before considering fusion surgery in attempt to find relief. However, after you’ve determined spinal fusion surgery is your best option for alleviating back pain that is not responding to other non-surgical spine treatments, you might be wondering if you should still consider chiropractic care. Before making your decision, keep these questions in mind.

How Well Has Your Fusion Formed?

Spinal fusion is a two-step procedure. It starts with the insertion of hardware to stabilize your spine after graft material is applied to join adjacent bones together. Before seeing a chiropractor, give your spine time to heal and see how well your fusion has formed, which can take several months.

Are You Still Experiencing Discomfort?

Fusion surgery doesn’t necessarily mean an end to discomfort, especially if underlying sources of your back pain still exist. A study on patients who experienced pain after lower back fusion found many responded well to spinal adjustment combined with distraction decompression spine surgery, a technique that decreases pressure in spinal discs by creating a vacuum-like effect within the disc to encourage fluid absorption.

What Should You Consider Before Scheduling Chiropractic Care?

It’s generally recommended to wait at least a year following your fusion surgery before seeing a chiropractor. Avoid traditional rotational methods that involve “twisting” and “popping” manipulations and methods that put added pressure on spinal nerves or directly involve the surgical site. Gentle chiropractic techniques to consider include:

  • Activator method – Adjustments are done with a hand-held manual tool that delivers a low-force impulse
  • Toggle drop – Gentle pressure is applied to the spine with crossed hands while using gravity to assist with adjustments
  • Cox flexion distraction – Slow, repetitive movements are used to apply a gentle stretch to the lower part of the spine

Post-fusion chiropractic care is a decision that should be based on the progression of your recovery and whether or not you’re still experiencing any degree of back pain. Before scheduling a session, get approval from your Beverly Hills spine surgeon and let the chiropractor know you had fusion surgery so appropriate techniques can be applied.

Because every patient’s needs are unique, make sure to speak with a qualified spine surgeon before choosing to pursue post-surgery chiropractic care. To learn more about fusion surgery and alternatives to spinal fusion, call The Spine Institute today at 310-828-7757.