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In my last post I shared my experience with seeing a chiropractor for the first time back in 1989. I believe in the benefits of chiropractic care but have been reluctant to go again since my understanding is that most chiropractors want you to come in three times a week. I have heard of some chiropractors asking their patients to commit to that schedule, or stop coming altogether.
My life is really too busy as it is, without having to commit to going someplace three days a week taking up an hour or two each time.
So last year during the summer – I think it was September – I was with my mom at her house and we were cleaning. One wall of her dining room is lined with row after row of mirrored tiles (12″x12″). As I was cleaning and shining each one, I noticed that my back was hurting. I am not one to stop just because of a little pain cropping up so I powered through. Next we went to Walmart for a little shopping. My back was hurting so bad I was having trouble walking. I ended up leaving my phone in the restroom and I had to rush back all the way across the store and thankfully one of the Walmart employees had found my phone and turned it in. After walking all around like that, back and forth, I was having to lean on things, the pain was so bad. When I went to bed that night I was in so much pain that I couldn't find a comfortable position to lie in.
I have no idea what happened, but suddenly I was one of “those people” whose backs just “go out”.
It took a few days for the pain to subside, but it did and I was completely well. No stiffness or pain whatsoever. Then I was at my yearly conference for my job a month later. It was the last day and I checked out, pulled my suitcase out to my car and lifted it into the trunk. I closed the trunk and started to walk back into the hotel and my back was out. It was excruciatingly painful. I had to walk in a stiff fashion, very slow. I purchased pain reliever from the hotel's front desk but it did little to help the pain.
After a few days I was completely well again.
Then a couple months later, it happened again. This time I knew better than to “power through”. I found that if I angled my body with my right hip leading and walked really slow it wouldn't hurt so bad. Again I healed within a few days.
With each incident, I could not really point to any specific incident that would have caused my back to “go out”. I have always prided myself on being able to move heavy things, and lift heavy things and have never had back problems. I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I secretly felt superior to other people who had a “weak” back. Oh boy. I'm telling you, once you reach 50, every thing in your life that you ever condemned someone for, watch out, you're going to experience it yourself. Reaching 50 has been a humbling experience for me, to be sure.
In May this year, my back went out for the fourth time. This time it was so bad that I forced myself go to Urgent Care. The pain starts in my lower back and radiates around to the front of my stomach. It is like this girdle of pain. It feels similar to menstrual cramps, but constant discomfort (whereas menstrual cramps usually come and go).
So on Mother's Day I'm in Urgent Care, making sure this isn't something worse, like a kidney stone. My blood pressure was very high (it was 209/135 and I'm sure due to the pain I was in since checking at home it is normal) and the doctor focused more on that than my back pain. He prescribed a muscle relaxer and strongly recommended that I see my regular doctor about the high blood pressure.
The muscle relaxer didn't really do much to help. The pain was so bad that I couldn't walk very far, and I had to resort to using the little driving carts at the grocery store. I had to carefully plan my day at work because I couldn't walk too many steps. It was a challenge to have enough steps just to get to the restroom a couple times a day. It was really frightening to be in such pain and have it affect my mobility to such an extent. Not only was it hurting when I was upright, but I struggled to find a comfortable position in bed.
My sister wanted me to allow my niece to give me a massage. My niece is not trained or licensed but she purportedly helps people with massage so I decided to take a chance. That went okay, but then while struggling to get into a sitting position my niece took my hands and pulled me up quickly. I know she was just trying to help but it twisted my back and I felt like I was back to day 1 but even worse.
It was at this time that I called uncle and I knew I had to get some professional help. I'd already tried the medical doctors, and they just gave me drugs (par for the course, plus they didn't really help) so I decided to find a chiropractor. I found one close to my job who takes my insurance and she was able to get me in that day and with the very first adjustment I felt relief.
I was really happy to learn that my new chiropractor doesn't believe in making her patients come in three times a week for life. We agreed that I would come in for five months, beginning with two times a week, then going to once a week and then on an as needed maintenance schedule.
This time my back hasn't completely healed like it did the previous times. I suspect that my niece aggravated the injury so it is taking longer to heal this time, or maybe this is just the natural course of these lower back pain episodes.
Dr. Karen Lee, a holistic chiropractor physician says,
“There are many causes for low back pain (LBP) and unfortunately, if you have had one episode, the chances are, you will have another. And to avoid a re-occurrence, you have to treat the cause. But more importantly, you have to be proactive and take preventive steps.”
Learn more in Dr. Lee's post How to Prevent Lower Back Pain Naturally. I am already following some of her recommendations, but I need to start doing a few more.
I have gained some weight around my stomach, so I think that is part of the problem. I'm taking Glucosamine Chondroiton with MSM and also an herbal calcium. I need to start exercises which I think will help a lot. Every couple weeks my back flares up and threatens to get worse (I'm so scared for it to get to that point again where I can't walk – I really appreciate being able to walk without pain!) but with each chiropractic visit it feels better. I'm really glad to have a chiropractor to go to that can help my body return to normal function.
Have you ever gone to a chiropractor? Was it a positive experience? Do you go now?