Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Attending to My Spine

Chiropractors have always been a somewhat uninteresting puzzle to me. Are they really doctors? I've never been injured and so never needed to see one, but friends and acquaintances swear by their back adjustments. But I also always had a nagging at the back of my mind about why chiropractic patients seemed to never be weaned away from their chiropractor.

Having never needed a chiropractor, I gave little heed to their advertisements...or to the growing pain in my lower lumbar.

I know, back (ha ha) around Christmastime when I couldn't lie flat or stand up straight in the morning, I maybe should have given it a little thought. I picked up yoga, which helped the pain dissipate, and figured if I didn't complain about it, the pain wouldn't be so noticeable. And it did subside with long as I didn't lie flat on my back...or skip and jump...or make any sudden movement of any sort.

Then a few weeks ago, a representative from Alpine Spinal Rehab in Provo gave lunch and a short presentation at Kent's work. He told of a chiropractor who believed in healing spines rather than adjusting them chronically. My curiosity was hooked.

At my first visit, following a good (and price friendly) massage, a tech took x-rays and the doctor used some sort of sonar device to detect misaligned vertebrae and then adjust them. He showed me some exercises to do at home to stretch and work the imbalanced muscles around my spine. I was happy that he recommended two of my favorite yoga poses: the cat and the camel.

At the next visit, we looked at the x-rays of my spine. It's more of a mess than I ever would have guessed! Straight where it should be curved and curved in the wrong directions. (Kent also got x-rays, and his spine is a mess in completely different ways than mine.) He invited me and the other new and prospective patients to a dinner at Sizzler where he taught about the make up of the spine, it's curves, and how not to mess it up. He explained that all sorts of physiological problems can be caused by the spine pinching any of the multiple nerves that branch from it: headaches, tingling limbs, over-active bladder, etc. His approach to healing the spine is to identify the problem areas, adjust the bones back into place a little at a time, and then build balanced muscles on either side of the spine to keep everything in place. Basically, I get to have a focused workout on different sets of back and neck muscles using some fancy weight-lifting machines. Theoretically, I should be done in ten weeks with a healed spine to last the rest of my life as long as I continue the at-home exercises.

After the first two or three visits, my lower back pain was--and is--gone. Now my back muscles are sore from the workouts, but I'm optimistic that I'll gain good posture and lose my occasional numb fingers and toes. That is, lose the tingling, not the digits.

I consider myself an experiment for the rest of you. If this experience goes well, I will recommend Dr. Clark myself. If it doesn't, I'll tell you that, too. He says he has my back. We'll see!


Charlotte said...

Those are my favorite stretches, too. I hope it works! Sounds like a good theory.

VickieG said...

Sounds interesting---I hope it works!

mindy said...

I've been wondering if you and Kent had made it in. I'm glad you have and that you are making such progress. As I told you, I've only used a chiropractor for acute problems, but I'm a believer. Our bodies just weren't designed to be bipedal, so we put our backs through a lot of stuff that they just don't handle well.