The Risks and Side Effects of Surgery vs. Chiropractic Care

Our chiropractic blog offers pain-relief tips, wellness advice, and more to keep you healthy and happy.

surgery vs chiropractic care

Back pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, injury, and age-related changes. Regardless of the cause, back pain can be debilitating and affect your quality of life.

There are many different treatments for chronic back pain, including surgery, the extremely invasive approach, and chiropractic care, the non-invasive and conservative approach. Chiropractic care is a much less risky treatment option. Surgery poses many risks, including permanent disability, up to a 19% re-operation rate, limited mobility, infection, nerve damage, continued pain and possible death.

What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a highly effective, non-surgical treatment for back pain. Misalignments in the spine can cause pain and other health problems because structure always affects function. If the structure of the spine is not in good shape, then the resulting functioning of the body will be negatively affected, which will often lead to the body experiencing pain. Chiropractors gently move the vertebrae of the spine back into the proper position by using their hands or a gentle instrument. 

Exercises may also be prescribed to help the muscles and ligaments of the body support an improved spinal structure. This often relieves chronic or acute pain, improves body function, and begins the body’s healing process. The spine and nervous system are the foundation of life, strength, and health in the body. Therefore, taking care of this system that controls the rest of your body’s systems is essential for optimal health and well-being.

Why Choose Chiropractic Care vs. Surgery?

There are several reasons why you might choose chiropractic care over surgery for your back pain.

FeatureChiropractic CareSurgery
EffectivenessHighly effective at relieving back painUp to 40% of back surgeries fall into the medical category “failed back surgery syndrome”
InvasivenessA natural, completely non-invasive treatmentA medical procedure that involves administering anesthesia, making an incision in the body, installing rods and screws in the spine, taking post-surgical habit-forming pain meds 
RisksPotential short-term muscle sorenessHigh risks, such as infection, disability, permanent limited mobility, continued pain, necessity for re-operation, nerve damage and death
DowntimeNo downtimeCan require several weeks of downtime
Improvement in functionCan improve body function by restoring proper alignment, motion and energy flow throughout the bodyMay or may not improve function – oftentimes limits the functionality of the body long-term due to the hardware installed in the spine
CostThe affordable, number of treatments needed depends upon each individual situationVery expensive: surgical costs, hospital stay, physical rehabilitation and work time missed

Here are some additional tips for people considering chiropractic care:

If you’re contemplating chiropractic care, these essential tips can help you make the most out of your experience and fully embrace the benefits of chiropractic services:

  • Openly Discuss Your Expectations – Communication is key in any form of healthcare. Prior to starting chiropractic treatment, have a candid conversation with your chiropractor about your expectations. 
  • Embrace Patience in the Healing Process – Chiropractic care often yields gradual and cumulative results. While some individuals experience immediate relief, others may require more time to witness the full extent of improvement. 
  • Regular Check-ins and Follow-ups – Maintaining a consistent schedule of appointments and check-ins with your chiropractor is essential for tracking your progress and making necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. 
  • Adopt Healthy Habits – Beyond chiropractic adjustments, integrating healthy habits into your lifestyle can further amplify the positive effects of chiropractic care. 

Who is a Chiropractor?

A chiropractor is a doctor of chiropractic (DC). DCs are licensed healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. They use a variety of techniques to treat these disorders, including spinal adjustments, exercises, stretches, and decompression.

When to see a Chiropractor?

If you are experiencing back pain, you should see a chiropractor if the pain is interfering with your daily activities, or if you experience other health-related symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.

If you are considering chiropractic care, it is important to find a qualified chiropractor.


Chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment for back pain. It is a non-invasive, non-risky, and proven option, often bringing relief from pain and improved body function. Surgery should only be considered as a very last resort after all else fails, due to the high-risk nature of this extremely invasive procedure. If you are looking for a local chiropractor in Tucker, GA, visit Complete Spine Solutions. With over 30 years of experience, Complete Spine Solutions offers safe and effective chiropractic treatments without the need for drugs or surgery. Our wide range of services includes spinal adjustments, chiropractic care for athletes, and natural pain relief.

About the Author
Dr. David A. Shapiro
Dr. David Shapiro, DC, CEO of Complete Spine Solutions

A graduate of Life University, School of Chiropractic 1993 (4600 postgraduate hours). Board certified licensed Doctor of Chiropractic. Passed 3 national board tests and the state of Georgia board examination. Also certified in therapeutic modalities.

Advanced Certified in Chiropractic BioPhysics, the most evidence-based technique in chiropractic. He’s been in private practice for over 25 years.

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