The most common areas of complaint I see in patients with spinal fusion are:
- Pain at the base of the skull and lowest part of the neck
- Soreness between the shoulder blades
- Numb sensations within the arm and hand.
These conditions often get great results from chiropractic care. But there’s just one problem… Fusion patients are told not to get chiropractic adjustments! Many people want to know if there is any truth to this advice… Is chiropractic care safe for people with surgical fusion?
Yes and No.
Ultimately, it depends on the case, and which part of the spine was fused and why. Acute spinal fractures and malignant tumors are obvious contraindications to manipulation.
Patients with fusion resulting from disc herniation, however, are better candidates. I know that when surgeons tell their patients to stay away from chiropractic adjustments after surgery, they’re doing so with the best of intentions. But I believe that many of them are unaware of the advances in chiropractic methods, and simply don’t know that certain techniques are not harmful to fusion patients.
While rotational methods applied to the fused segments may be ill-advised, many chiropractic techniques can help people without the need to “twist & pop” the neck. Most Upper Cervical methods are great alternatives. These include NUCCA, Grostic, Atlas Orthogonal, Palmer Specific, and Blair.
There are also “full spine” instrument-based methods that are acceptable. Examples include Pro-Adjuster and ArthroStim.
If you or someone you know has had spinal fusion, please don’t assume that you “can’t” visit a chiropractic office. While not everyone will be a candidate for care, many fusion patients have safely experienced the benefits of specific chiropractic.
You always amaze me with your blogs. This one is sooo true. I see and hear about this a lot now. Good job doc!
We see a lot of patients in our clinic who have had surgery and the spine was fused. Most of these patients have been told by their surgeon that they should never see a chiropractor. Most of these surgical patients have suffered for years with pain after the surgery. We find that a good number of these fusion patients do extremely well with chiropractic adjustments and wish they would of started treatment years earlier so they could of gotten relief much sooner. Your article is right that not all fusion patients are candidates for adjustments but many are.