Doctor pointing to a spine next to an x-ray

Is Chiropractic Safe After Spine Surgery?

Sorry to ruin the suspense, but for those of you who like instant gratification: the short answer is "yes." The fact is that 80% of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their life. Some amount of those will go on to get spine surgery. Out of those, more than half will experience the same type of back pain that caused them to get surgery within less than 6 months! Furthermore, recent studies showed that rehabilitation was more effective than lumbar fusion surgery at reducing pain levels. But what do you do if you've already had surgery?

Fortunately, there are many options still available to those who have received spine surgery. Typically, most treatment plans at Tidal Chiropractic consist of three distinct phases:

  1. Manual therapy: a type of treatment that focuses on the soft tissues, such as your muscles, tendons, and fascia. Some examples of manual therapy include Active Release Technique and Graston Technique. We are able to do these types of treatments regardless of if you have had spine surgery or not. These treatments do not directly affect the spine, but the muscles that may surround or connect to it.
  2. Chiropractic adjustments: This is what most people typically think of when they think of chiropractic. Not all chiropractic adjustments require twisting of the spine and popping of joints. One of the most effective low-force techniques available to patients who have undergone spine surgery is Cox Technique. The rest of the article will focus on explaining this technique.
  3. Rehabilitative exercise: Some movements may no longer be possible or may have to be modified following surgery. Regardless, this is one of the most important phases of care. You can possibly prevent surgery with rehabilitative exercise, or recover from surgery more quickly and effectively by performing it following surgery.

What is Cox Technique?

Out of these treatment options, we are going to discuss the second bullet point in detail: the chiropractic adjustment. This is typically the type of treatment most patients have questions or concerns about regarding surgery.

Cox technique

Cox technique is a low-force chiropractic adjusting technique that nearly all of my current patients are familiar with. That's because it is equally effective for patients who have not had spine surgery!

As you can see from the image, Cox technique uses a specialized table that rhythmically moves the patient's lower body up and down. This provides a stretch along the entire spine. As the movement continues, the doctor applies pressure to various segments of the spine, providing maximum decompression at each segment. This technique is safe and effective even after back surgery.

According to one study, changes within the spine during Cox Technic Flexion Distraction include “decreased intradiscal pressure, increase in intervertebral disc foraminal area, increase in intervertebral disc space height, and increase in physiologic range of motion in the facet joints.”

Dr. James Cox, the inventor of the technique, has published various studies and articles outlining its efficacy for pelvic pain, slipped or ruptured discs, spondylolisthesis, and pregnancy-related back pain, among others. Many orthopedic surgeons are becoming more comfortable requiring their prospective patients to undergo at least 6 weeks of conservative care before scheduling surgery. This may include chiropractic, physical therapy, or both. Many find that they are able to avoid surgery entirely by going this route.

Whether or not you've already had spine surgery or are trying to actively avoid it, we have conservative options available for you. We can help you get out of pain and stay out of pain every step of the way.