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Anyone see a Chiropractor for Years (myself 18 years going) only to need spinal surgery?

Faith981Faith981 Posts: 88
edited 02/12/2016 - 6:51 PM in Alternative Treatments
I was in 3 accidents close together while in college. I was diagnosed with a small disc herniation in C5-C6 and a bulge in C6-C7. Fractured tailbone, whiplash (all 3 accidents) and concussion. My pain slowly progressed from there to include fibromyalgia. I suffered for a year where my primary care doctor thought I was crazy and ordered no films whatsoever, not even xrays. In my youthful ignorance I let a year go by as I got worse. I finally spent $220 to see an ortho, out of pocket since my primary refused to issue a referral and was diagnosed on my exam before the MRI was done.
In 1997 someone recommended a low-force chiropractor to me. When I saw her I couldn't hold my head straight and my clothes didn't fit right I was so twisted. I had trouble walking and most of my body hurt. After the first chiropractic visit I no longer needed to use a lot of things to assist me. Then I would notice my body slipping back to the way it was, but slowly I got better. I felt addicted to it. I also did PT. I will admit I did not do exercises regularly in those 18 years I saw my chiropractor. I led an average life in that time. I saw her on average once a week to every 2 weeks. (I just estimated I spent at least $30,000 on it in my lifetime!!!) It almost always helped my chronic pain.
In 2007 I had an MRI that showed my disc herniations getting slightly worse and degeneration, but everyone told me it is so unlikely to ever need surgery. I did PT and felt better. I had always had a physical job in retail which I think has helped me keep moving over the years. Originally, I had to leave my desk job in 1998. In about 2011 it got worse again and I had a terrible burning pain that my chiropractor couldn't relieve from my left shoulder to the base of my neck. I was too busy to pay attention, but I would go every 2 weeks to see her and it helped but not that particular pain.
Then in 2015, it quickly went downhill with severe tingling, numbness, weakness and loss of balance. I found out I had 3 severe cervical disc herniations compressing my spine and if I did not have surgery in 6 - 8 months, I could possibly become paralyzed. There was no more room left for them to continue to move out. Since my diagnosis I have not gone back and decided I will never waste my money on chiropractic again. I truly believe my practitioner is a good person who believes in what she does. Perhaps it kept my disc hernaitions at bay longer that it would have otherwise. I will never know for sure. I had ACDF C4-C7 so no one would adjust my neck now anyway. In some ways I wish I could get my neck adjusted as I feel it needs it but it is NOT recommended ever with a fusion like mine.

I truly thought that chiropractic would protect me from ever needing surgery, but I was wrong. I'm curious what other patients think about their spine health and years of chiropractic.


  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 639
    Sorry to hear of all your years of suffering...sure takes the fun out of life at times.

    My personal opinion on chiropractors is there's great ones, good ones, and bad ones. I've experienced all three I believe, but I don't think even the great ones can keep a body from aging indefinitely, and there's some spinal issues they alone cannot correct.

    And I agree, getting adjustments after a fusion is pretty risky, one I probably wouldn't chance. Even though I've only had a lumbar fusion, I've moved my neck in obviously the wrong way while walking and felt the pain clear down to fusion area. Sometimes I would like to get my neck adjusted, but I'm too scared to. I'd be afraid something would go wrong and my insurance would deny further payment of claims. 

    There are other adjustments I'd have my chiropractor do, though I haven't had any done since fusion. I have problems with wrists sometimes, and bunions/feet and ankle problems at times, that if I got to where I knew it was time for adjustment I'd go to the one I trust. I don't think having those areas adjusted would affect my fusion.
  • Thanks Sheri,
    I agree chiropractors can't stop aging. But in my mind I thought at least fusion surgery would never come into play unless I had an impact that caused it specifically. You live and learn. My head is still killing me right now and my top vertebra in my neck have been cracking soon after I came out of the collar after surgery and still does. I know everyone says cracking is just gas coming from the joints but in my opinion sometimes it's happening because of arthritis or bone spurs forming. That's just from my own viewpoint and experience.
    I have had similar experiences where I get a shooting pain clear down the back. I guess if you want to spend the money for temporary relief a great chiropractor could help for a time, but not recommended for areas of fusion.
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  • lauramanllauraman AtlantaPosts: 27
    I've found chiropractic to work exceptionally well with my disc herniations. I had the same prognosis as you did about 20 years ago which got worse even though I was seeing chiropractors. What I would recommend for anyone who gets this diagnosis is to find a chiropractor who uses the activator and who actually knows how to use it. There are certifications for it. Also, make sure you are getting exercises from either your chiro or your pt. I didn't do my exercises and got worse, then I found my most recent chiropractor who told me no one would be able to get me better until I strengthened my body. 

    The same idea worked for my shoulder. I have bursitis in my shoulder which will not go away due to some rotoator cuff tearing that came with it. Again, the only thing keeping me going are my exercises. 

    As far as the fusions go, I think the chiropractor can help around the fusion but shouldn't work on the fusion itself until it has healed fully. Once it heals, the fused area is pretty much one bone anyway. 
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