Chiropractor Questions Chiropractic Adjustment

I had back surgery. Should I see a chiropractor or avoid it?

I had back surgery months ago and am finally recovering. Would it be helpful or hurtful to visit a chiropractor for an adjustment?

55 Answers

This is an important question to ask. The answer is yes if the chiropractic doctor has training and certifications in corrective spinal bio-mechanics. The doctors at our offices are trained this way, and you would benefit from a spinal work-up and diagnostic evaluation. We are trained in specific scientific chiropractic adjustment/ gonstead method, as well as other therapeutic tools for your condition; we are also trained in activator instrument 'low force' adjusting and 'no force' adjusting, called b.E.S.T. Chiropractic.
Depending on what type of surgery you had in the past will determine your next steps. There are some failed back surgeries that a chiropractor would not want to re-aggravate. Be detailed on your visit and they can examine you to see if you are able to receive adjustments at this time.
A Chiropractor can help you with your back pain after surgery. There are a variety of techniques that can be used depending on the type of surgery and the location. A Chiropractor can work in the segments above and below the surgery site if it is a contraindication to adjust after that particular procedure.
Should not avoid seeing a chiropractor since regarded as wellness care.
You need some sort of rehabilitation to re-educate the muscles around your spine. Chiropractic will not make anything worse, but speed up the healing process. Have them take x-rays for your back and to see exactly how to help.
That would partly depend on WHEN you had the surgery. Neurosurgeons refer to chiropractors regularly for pist-surgical rehab. But please do not make the mistake of equating chiropractic with "adjustments". If that is all your chiropractor does, find a new one. Chiropractic includes jjstcabout all of the things physical therapists do, and things PTs are not qualified to do. Therapeutic exercise rehabilitation, learning how to lift properly (no it is NOT just "bending your knees"!), and passive modalities such as lumbar traction, therapeutic ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation, TENS, therapeutic massage are all performed by chiropractic doctors. We don't typically perform just "adjustments", a.k.a. spinal manipulation therapy (SMT).
Surgical intervention presents a special set of circumstances with respect to being a Chiropractic candidate. It is my opinion that your Chiropractic treatment be resumed once your physical therapy and other recommendations by your orthopedic surgeon have been completed.

Chiropractic adjustments are contraindicated on the segments operated on. However, the segments above and below the surgical alteration are potentially safe to manually adjust/manipulate.

Proceed with caution and make sure you are attended by a well respected and skilled practitioner.
Make sure it's a good one
Even though you had back surgery, chiropractic care can help reduce pain and allow movement to occur.
In most cases it is helpful although the Doctor of Chiropractic should do a thorough examination and x-ray in my experience. Once in awhile there is a surgery or area of instability that should not be treated by a chiropractor (example: metal implants like plates or screws). Usually the other areas need to be structurally balanced and aligned due to compensating for the immobility of the surgical area.
There are two main theories on this topic. First theory is yes! still visit a Chiropractor because a patient can still be adjusted above and below the area where surgery has taken place. Depending on the extent off the surgery, this is the theory I practice. Example: A patients had decompression surgery in cervical region (neck), I still will adjust mid and lower back along with extremities. Patients see great spine maintenance results with this method.

Second thought, do not adjust any part of the back because it may cause undo stress on the joints around the surgical unit or the hardware. I personally do not buy into this theory because, the spine is dynamic. This means the spine is always moving.

However, I will caution you. Always make sure you go to a Chiropractor that has alot of experience dealing with patient's with back surgeries.
It can be helpful to visit a chiropractor even if you have had back surgery. A thorough review of what type of surgery and if hardware is used will help determine what type of treatment would be beneficial. It can help to accelerate healing and prevent excessive scar tissue and adhesions from the procedure.
Visit your chiropractor today even if you have had surgery!!
A thorough review of your surgical notes, diagnostic tests (pre & post surgery), and a thorough physical examination will be the guiding tools for definitive course of treatment.
There are many concomitant factors that will determine if chiropractic care is the proper course of treatment.
You can allways visit the chiro for consultation and to support your wellness however if you feel good with surgery what is your need in chiropractor adjustment?
It would be a great idea to see a good chiropractor.
It depends. I never say yes or no until the patient comes in and I can evaluate. Questions I would ask are what was the type of surgery and at what vertebral levels was the procedure done. There are adjustments that are low in force, such as Thompson drop and activator techniques that may definitely help you.

Other modalities that may be really helpful are craniosacral and acupuncture.

I hope I answered your question.!
Thank you for your question. Chiropractic can definitely be beneficial even after back surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, the chiropractor can use their hands with a manual adjustment or a tool to decrease the forces that are applied. With most fusions or hard ware installations, the best course of action is using a achieve the desired results while decreasing the risks.
I have worked on many patients who have had back and neck surgery. We have to evaluate the condition to see exactly what is going on. The adjustments i would do depends on what kind of surgery you had and what extent the surgery went. It is worth your time to at least have a consultation with a chiropractor.
Good day

To ease your mind, you can see a chiropractor post surgery. I have personally treated numerous patients post surgery and got them to full recovery.

The chiropractor can help you to increase mobility and with rehabilitation.=20

Chiropractors are not taught to only manilpulate patients but to examine and assess their patients and their needs going forward. They will treat inflammation and soft tissue injuries and pain from the surgery as well.

I hope this helps


Dr Benjamin
The answer would be Possibly. Reason is there are many chiropractic techniques that are "non-force" which means you may receive treatment without causing any problem to the recent surgery location. I specialize in herniated or ruptured disc's and as such the treatment is gentle enough to use on post-surgical cases all the way to being able to treat my oldest patient who is 101 years old!!
Depending on the kind of procedure that you just had, you should be able to see a chiropractor again. Many times the work you are doing with you chiropractor will help address any underlying imbalances that may have contributed to your initial condition and help maintain the health of your spine moving forward. It will be important for them to know your history, have various manipulation and mobilization techniques that they are well skilled at using. I definitely would wait until you are cleared by your surgeon.

If you are going to be finding a new chiropractor it is often a good idea to schedule a consultation only the first visit to see if it is a good fit.
It could benefit and it could be more damaging. This again is hard to give a straight forward answer. really depends on the doctor. I would find a Diplomate of the American Neurology Board for this type of care. and locate the doctors in your area. this is a NCCA accredidation and nationally recognized. 300 Credit hours and passing boards will get you the degree. most of the profession does not have as hard requirements..

Dr. Dan Bartley D.C.
Seeing a Chiropractor after back surgery can be helpful if the surgery has been at least 6 months ago. It also depends on what type of back surgery the person had done. A chiropractor is well trained to know what to do and more importantly what NOT to do. If you have had back surgery, I am assuming you already have a chiropractor and their treatments failed. Surgery is ALWAYS a last resort. Return to him with any imaging or surgery medical notes so he can be familiar with your case. Good Luck!
A lot would depend on the type of surgery you had. Was it for herniated disc or spinal stenosis? Was there any fusion of the vertebrae performed via cadaver bone or metal plates and screws? Also are you having any residual symptoms after recovery and what are they? Was the condition caused by an injury or was it a gradual onset that continuously worsened over time? Has the surgeon determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement and released you from care? These are things that need to be considered during consultation and evaluation by the chiropractor.
Many times the surgical procedure will relieve the acute debilitating pain but it does not address the structural imbalance to the spine and pelvic area created by the development of the condition that required the surgery. This is where the chiropractic expertise comes in. These structural imbalances create postural alterations, imbalanced pelvis where one hip is higher than the other causing the body to tilt to one side, causing one shoulder to be lower than the other, possible head tilting to one side, and unequal weight bearing. These can eventually create chronic recurring pain that is not of a surgical nature. All these that I have described can be easily determined by standing with feet slightly apart in a totally relaxed position in front of a full length mirror.
If this describes your situation chiropractic treatment should be helpful.
It all depends. I have treated many post op patients and either adjust other areas and avoid the surgical area or do non manipulative techniques. It also depends on the surgery performed and where, if there is hardware like pins or plates or screws.
Find a Gonstead chiropractor. They can see if there are other areas of you spine that may be contributing to the pain where you had surgery. If they can't help you they will tell you up front. All the best.
It really depends on your specific situation and the reason for your surgery. Some surgeries are minor disc repair and others are quite invasive. Typically if chiropractic care is appropriate it would be administered above or below where the surgery was. There are various techniques, and most of the time a patient can benefit from chiropractic. Like I said, a proper examination and history would determine if chiropractic care is appropriate for you!
No, chiropractic will not hurt you. Chiropractic visits will benefit you greatly. The chiropractor would go through your medical history and get the specific details of your surgery to be able to provide you the best care. Chiropractic adjustments will be performed on specific segments of your dorsal spine.
That all depends on what type of procedure you had. Here at the Health Centers, we have physical therapy and pain management MD. If you are still in pain, maybe we should help you assess why?
Call our office at 636-946-2244.
Yes it is safe and would be helpful to see a Chiropractor. You ought to bring current xrays and MRIs with you and discuss your surgery with the Chiropractor. It may not be appropriate to adjust the segments that were involved in the surgery, however chiropractic can definately help in reducing the subluxations in the remainder of your spine and restoring communication between the brain/spinal cord and the rest of your body. Also, you may still be a candidate for non surgical spinal decompression that can keep you from having additional surgery.

Dr Andreu J MacAndrew Richardson, DC
Chiropractic care helps you heal faster and reduces stress on your body and mind so it would benefit you to get adjusted. Be sure your chiropractor understands the type of surgery you had and your physical limitations.
Chiropractic adjustments will help no matter the type of surgery, however, the way you are adjusted may change based on what was done.
Chiropractors are trained in the management of many spinal conditions, which includes knowing when to deliver a spinal adjustment and when not to. Depending on the type of surgery that you had and how well you’re healing, an adjustment may or may not be appropriate for you.

Just as there are different types of medical doctors (GPs, Pediatricians, PM&R, Orthopedists, Neurologists, Radiologists, etc), there are specialties in chiropractic. You may want to seek out a chiropractor that is boarded in rehabilitation ( These individuals have completed their doctorate in chiropractic medicine, and have done a minimum of 2 years additional training, passed a board examination, and meet all of the criteria to be diplomats of their specialty board. Seeing a chiropractor that is trained in rehabilitation is just like seeing a chiropractor and a physical therapists at the same time. You may really benefit from their care!

It totally depends on your individual situation. We have many patients who use chiropractic care post surgery and have great results. If you have any more questions or would like to speak with me personally about your specific situation I would be happy to help. All the best.
Back surgery is not necessarily a contraindication to adjusting. You mention you had the surgery "months ago" . It would depend on the nature of the surgery and exactly how long ago the surgery was. There are different recovery and stabilization periods for various types of back surgery. If you are having symptoms presently the nature of those complaints need to be taken into consideration as well. My advise would be to make an appointment with a Chiropractor and discuss your present situation and the specifics pertaining to the surgery so an informed decision could be made based on the specifics of your situation. Most experienced Chiropractors treat patients who have had previous surgeries after an appropriate healing and stabilization period.

I hope this information is of some help to you.


J.L.Harris DC, FACO
Good afternoon,
I am so sorry. I just saw a question from you. I was so busy and missed this. After back surgery, definitely you need therapies and rehabilitation. Just a note, we have laser, electrotherapy, cupping, Magnesphere and Ultrasound to manage your pain and scar tissues that might build up after surgery. We have free consultation so give us a call 703-208-7352 Thanks.
It would most definitely be helpful to see a chiropractor. Even though you had surgery in your low back, the rest of your spine can still be adjusted and your body will see the benefits.
Yes you can see a chiropractor, however, the doctor should not manipulate the area where you had surgery. There are other methods besides manipulation that a chiropractor can help you with. Manual therapy and myofacial release are just a few techniques that can be used. They also can help with supplements that will support and even enhance your recover from back surgery.
There would need to be a consultant with the nature of surgery and possibly imaging to see results. I have given treatment many after surgeries to make sure the body is stabilized and moving properly despite going through rehabilitation. Most often, I co-manage my patients after surgery.
It all depends on the nature of the surgery on whether or not that area or surrounding areas of surgery can be adjusted. However, if it's other areas of your spine that you are looking to get adjusted, than that should be fine. Hope that helps!
It depends on the type of surgery. Most procedures, once healed are safe. There are many techniques that can be used to treat the back in the chiropractor's office.
Anytime you undergo surgery, your body heals with scar tissue which can affect your mobility and functionality. It is always beneficial to get an assessment and treatment with a chiropractor post surgery so your body heals correctly and recovers faster.
I have seen many patients who have had back surgery. I have several who are still active with us on a maintenance basis. Once you have fully recovered, you can make an appt and we will examine you to determine if chiropractic care is indicated in your particular case.
Generally, you can see a chiropractor after surgery. However, It depends on where in your back you had the surgery, what kind of surgery, whether or not you did rehab exercises and how long ago. Generally, if you are having pain in the same area after the surgery I do a full assessment to see if I can help. I can help because I can help with rehabilitation and muscle tension.
Well that depends on the type of surgery, the region of surgery, and the type of Chiropractic you are going to try. Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic is always a good choice for patients with back surgery, since there is no twisting or cracking involved.
How long ago since the surgery?

Do you have any metal, plates, rods or screws in the surgical area?

I would recommend you not get adjusted in the region of surgery.

Above or below the area would be okay. Make sure you get a thorough examination and share with your doctor your physical/surgical/accident history.

Furthermore, have x-rays done and receive a radiology report. Never let a D.C. or D.O. adjust you without doing so.

Thank you for your question. I hope I was some help.

Best of Health,

Dr. Hazziez
Doctors of Chiropractic are skilled and educated in the correct treatment for spinal related conditions. The doctor will perform a comprehensive examination,review the results, and coupled with flatfile xrays, MRIs, NCVs and other tests will then be able to make an educated call as to the best course and appropriate specialist to utilize.
I understand your concern. I would recommend a consult to review your case. I have seen many patients who have had surgery and they have no complications with chiropractic treatments. We have very gentle treatments and soft tissue therapies to be as conservative as possible if necessary. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 770-545-8888.
It is dependent upon the nature of your pathology and your surgical procedure.

Larry Svihlik, DC, DACBSP
In all honesty, it depends on what kind of surgery you've had done. Something like a fusion would not warrant chiropractic care since the goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to restore motion to the joint. A fusion surgery would make that impossible at this point. If you've had something along the lines of a laminectomy or discectomy, you can receive conservative chiropractic treatments such as electro-therapy, physical therapy and the like. A thorough evaluation should be done by the chiropractor to determine the extent of what kind of treatment may be utilized for your specific case.
Lots of variables with back surgery. Was it a fusion or discectomy? Are you having pain localized or is it radiating into leg? We can surely adjust the other areas of your spine without a problem, but proper evaluation would be necessary to determine the next step.

Dr. Greg Pizzolato
In response to your question, I'd need to know more information and I'd be happy to have a free consultation with you over the phone. For example, was there a fusion with plate and screws, etc? You can reach me at 513-247-2222. I'd be happy to discuss your situation with you, as I have helped people before and after back surgeries.
Chiropractic can definitely help while recovering from back surgery, especially if the chiropractor incorporates active muscle release with their treatments, which I always do. That can help tremendously with restoring range of motion limited by scar tissue and bound up muscles.
Having had back surgery does not contraindicate the use of chiropractic. The question is what type of chiropractic procedure is best in your case. We use Upper Cervical Chiropractic procedures, because they are less invasive than other types. Chiropractors are trained in knowing how to handle patients who have had all kinds of injuries including surgeries.
It would be helpful as long as you inform them of the recent surgery and even better would be to provide medical records. Dependent upon the type of surgery, especially with fusions, adjusting the areas above and below the surgery can be beneficial in avoiding future surgeries as these areas tend to "wear out" faster. If there is anything else you are wondering about feel free to ask!