Ask the Doc: Is chiropractic safe for those who have had surgery?

Editor’s note: Dr. Philip Schalow’s new featured article, “Ask the Doc,” will appear monthly. This is the fourth column in the series. Send questions for Dr. Schalow to and he will answer each one individually and choose a sampling for this article.

By Dr. Philip Schalow

The question for this month: “I’ve had surgery on my neck, and my surgeon says ‘Don’t ever go to a chiropractor.’ Is upper cervical chiropractic safe for me?”

In this health care age, more and more professions are doing things that look like what we know of as the chiropractic adjustment. Physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, osteopaths and even hairdressers have been observed to do manipulative procedures that mimic the chiropractic adjustment. So, is the question really about chiropractic, or is it about a certain type of manipulative procedure?

The surgeon who advised you against going to a chiropractor would have been more accurate by warning you about the harmful motions — sudden rotational movements of the neck — that can happen with any type of practitioner who touches the neck. Of the more than 250 different types of chiropractic procedures, probably only one would be contraindicated.

The NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association) procedure is one that has demonstrated consistent, safe results for people who have had all kinds of spinal surgeries by restoring normal brain-to-body communication. In fact, we even see good outcomes for people whose entire spines have been fused with a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis.

The only issue for the NUCCA doctor is bringing the head, C1 (the atlas) and the neck below it into proper relationship. This is accomplished with a method of adjusting that is so delicate, patients often think nothing has been done, but then they stand up and find they are all straightened up!

For the patient with any type of spinal surgery, NUCCA is a sensible option.

Dr. Philip Schalow is a NUCCA practitioner in Rockford. He owns 1st Step Chiropractic, S.C., 4519 Highcrest Road, Rockford. Call (815) 398-4500 for details or visit

From the April 10-16, 2013, issue

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