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Chiropractic Care After Neck Surgery

Published Date: 
November 15, 2023
Categories:
woman holding the back of her neck.

Seeing a chiropractor after neck surgery can help avoid lingering pain and discomfort. Ideally, you’ll work with a chiropractor to help you avoid surgery, but this isn’t always possible. If you’ve had neck surgery and want to ensure proper healing or avoid long-term complications or follow-up procedures, chiropractic care can help.

Seeing a Chiropractor After Neck Surgery

Some people believe that you can’t have chiropractic care after you’ve undergone neck surgery. This is not true. In most cases, people who have had neck surgery greatly benefit from chiropractic treatment.

People believe chiropractic visits could be risky after surgery because they are concerned that chiropractic adjustment can harm the affected area of surgery. But the opposite is actually true. The tools and techniques chiropractors use actually enhance the healing process and improve the function of the body.

Senior man having ultrasound of his neck.

Chiropractors perform a thorough assessment of a patient when they begin treatment. This allows them to examine the spine’s condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment. In some cases, they’ll avoid the exact area affected by surgery but work on the areas surrounding the repaired area.

After surgery, the biomechanics of your spine and cervical spine change. This is especially true if you’ve undergone fusion surgery or had something added or removed from the area. The best thing you can do is re-adjust the mechanics so your neck and spine can function optimally. A chiropractor can help you with this.

Can You Still Get Your Neck Adjusted if You've Had Cervical Fusion?

Yes. 

Spinal fusion is the joining of two or more vertebrae in the cervical spine. The goal of this type of surgery is to stop the movement that’s happening between the bones, which reduces or eliminates chronic pain.

The procedure affects the movement of the neck. Many people are no longer able to stretch the area without discomfort. Chiropractor treatment can help restore pain-free natural movement to the area.

Is Chiropractic Safe After Cervical Fusion?

Many patients receive chiropractic care after cervical fusion surgery. Patients need to let their chiropractor know the details of their surgery, including which levels were fused. In some cases, the best neck pain treatment option for patients post-surgery is using an activator. This tool helps move the spinal levels above and below the fusion. If metal or hardware was used in the procedure, the best chiropractic option might be the Cox Distraction.

Your chiropractor will review the details of your surgery and determine which of the various procedures will be most helpful in your case.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Neck Surgery?

The time it takes to heal from neck surgery varies from patient to patient. Recovery time depends on the type of surgery and how extensive the procedure was. A patient’s existing health and behavior after surgery also affect healing time.

It can generally take a month to a year to fully heal from neck surgery.

Collaboration Between Chiropractors and Surgeons

In the past, some doctors were encouraged to avoid collaborating with chiropractors.

As recently as 1987, a federal judge ruled that the American Medical Association (AMA) conspired to destroy the chiropractic association. One of the ways they did this was by preventing association between chiropractors and medical doctors.

Chiropractor adjusting young woman's neck.

Thankfully, this is no longer the case for most patients. Chiropractic care can be an important part of healing and wellness post-surgery.

Today, chiropractors are encouraged to collaborate and communicate with their patients’ doctors and the entire medical team.

According to The American Chiropractor, “Proper communication through understanding, efficient documentation sharing systems and clinical collaboration is the only visible road to improving global spine care outcomes. Properly trained doctors of chiropractic can be important facilitators in the process of patient-centered and evidence-based care.”

Tailoring Chiropractic Treatments for Post-Neck Surgery Patients 

Treatment for post-neck surgery patients should be customized to their specific needs. Most programs include one or more of the following: 

Chiropractor massaging young woman's neck.
  • Muscle rehab that reduces tension and pain in the spine 
  • Chiropractic adjustment or traction treatment modified to avoid compression on the affected area
  • Electric muscle stimulation reduces inflammation, eases muscle spasms, and relieves back and neck pain

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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