Is Chiropractic Safe after Back Surgery?

If you’ve undergone back surgery, you aren’t alone. In fact, you are one of an estimated 500,000 patients in the United States who has gone under the knife for some type of spinal condition. Regardless of the type of back surgery, one thing is certain. There will be a long recovery time ahead before you recover.

If, like many of Dr. Nathen Horst’s patients, you are used to leading an active, full life, the enforced period of restricted movement following back surgery can be frustrating. If you are the type of person who considers a three-mile run before work to be a warm up, suddenly finding it difficult to simply get from the bedroom into the kitchen can significantly affect your quality of life. However, you may find that a carefully created chiropractic after-surgery treatment plan can get you back in your running shoes sooner than you could have thought. In this blog post, Temecula, CA chiropractor Nathen Horst discusses the safety of chiropractic care after back surgery.

Types of Back Surgery

There are several different types of surgical procedures that can be performed, but the overall goal is to relieve pressure on the spinal discs and nerves leading in and out of the spinal cord.

  • Spinal fusion: This is the most common type of back surgery for pain. One or more vertebrae are fused together.
  • Laminectomy. Parts of the bone, bone spurs, or ligaments in the back will be removed to relieve pressure on spinal nerves to reduce pain and weakness.
  • Foraminotomy. Part of the bone at the side of the vertebrae is removed to widen the space through which the nerves pass.
  • Discectomy or disc replacement. If one of the discs that separate the vertebrae slips out of place and constricts the nerves, it can be partially removed. If the disc is severely damaged, it can be replaced.
  • Interlaminar implant. A device is placed between two vertebrae in the lower back to hold open enough space, so as not to constrict the nerves.

Chiropractic Treatments

First and foremost, you should coordinate any chiropractic care after surgery between yourself, Dr. Horst, and your surgeon. This will allow for a proper treatment plan, including a recovery timeline, to be created.

You will not be able to immediately have a chiropractic adjustment in the area of the back that underwent surgery, but adjustments to other areas of the body that may take on extra load during recovery, such as the knees, ankles and feet, may be appropriate. While most people only think of adjustments as chiropractic care, there are actually many other adjunct therapies that would be entirely appropriate following back surgery. Some examples would include:

  • Hot- or cold-pack therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to help reduce pain
  • Assisted muscle stretching
  • Rehab exercises

Dr. Horst recommends that his patients who undergo back surgery get back to chiropractic care once they have been medically cleared to do so, in order to help speed recovery not just of their spinal region, but of the whole body. Since the entire body is, in one way or another, connected to the spine via the central or peripheral nervous system, it is vital to look beyond healing just the spine.

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