Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chiro-wonderful

Look, this post isn't pretending to be medical advice or even informative news... it's just my experience. That's the awesome thing about having your own blog – I can write whatever the hell I want and leave the informative and researched shit for work. And so, here it is:

I had my third or fourth interaction with chiropractic medicine this morning. Out of my three (or four) experiences two have been awesome, one has sucked terribly and one was either completely unmemorable or has been made up entirely in my head. Regardless, I've had a love/hate relationship with the specialty, and that's probably because the chiropractic philosophy is so individual to the practitioner. Some believe in holistic medicine, some incorporate stim, massage and sports medicine practices, and others just want to adjust the crap out of you and send you on your way.

My first interaction with the chiropractic profession occurred in 2005 after a particularly bad track injury. I landed funny during the long jump at a meet and when I tried to get up and walk out of the sand pit, I couldn't. I just couldn't. Rob, the athletic trainer for our team (who I also incidentally had a ginormous crush on and since I was 21, made no attempt to hide said crush), helped me up and then the pain started. It shot from my lower back through my right leg and was the most debilitating pain I had ever felt. My friend Bob helped me back to my room and even had to carry me to the bathroom because I couldn't walk. When I was on my own, I crawled. It even hurt to sleep.



Nothing was helping, not even pain killers (they did, however, allow me to sleep). My events coach set me up with a chiropractor, one of the best in New York and one with a two month wait for an appointment. Acting on a favor, he saw me at 4:45 p.m. and immediately diagnosed and - eventually - corrected my problem. Turns out two of my vertebrae were stuck together, compressing (and partially herniating I think?) a disc in my lower back, screwing with my nerves and causing the muscles around the area to bunch up. After 20 minutes of stim, he turned me on my side, said "Deep breath, this might hurt," and - *pop* - this whoosh of relief swept through my entire right side as he popped the vertebrae back into place. Unreal.

I competed in the league championship meet six days later. The coaching staff limited me to one event instead of my usual three or four to keep me healthy. That day, I won the triple jump (my best event). I couldn't believe the complete 180ยบ turnaround from that pathetic day when I had to be lifted off the toilet.

(note: to all you medical pros who want to jump on me for the description of the injury... look, I did my best to remember everything, but I majored in History/Russian and journalism. So just deal with it, inaccuracies in all. Basically, it fucking hurt and the guy fixed it, but I've had occasional pain ever since).

The second time I went to a chiropractor, I was living in Ardmore and hurt myself... shit, I dunno, working or running or something. I found a chiro on a recommendation of a good friend. I won't name him because I'm sure he's a good man, but he fucked me up big time. My first chiro had only done one adjustment; this guy did like 9 and I felt *worse* afterward. He made the mistake that all my "bad" doctors have – he didn't listen to me. He ignored my insistence at not adjusting me further and told me I had scoliosis, something that you're tested for every year in elementary school and during preseason physicals. I didn't buy it. Turns out I was right to be skeptical. I never went back to him again.

Today I had a great session with a chiro at CU. Dr. Dave (I love when doctors with impronouncable last names go by their first names. Extra points for alliteration). He assessed my posture (forward neck position, common in students who spend their time hunched over), found that I'm uneven, and did about six adjustments. My pelvis is all twisted out of whack because of the cramped muscles (those protecting the discs) pulling it in all directions.

Now, being adjusted is weird. You're contorted into positions with someone laying on top of you and things pop and it's... weird. My neck cracked about four times and my back did once... it's a little tougher because the muscles are so tight. I learned some stretches to help alleviate the persistent stiffness. I'm feeling pretty great about this weekend's grass doubles tournament, and feeling like my body might hold up.

Chiro isn't for everyone; it's something that one should explore and see if that type of medicine is a good fit. You should also learn about each practitioner's style: are they into sports medicine? Nutrition? And does their style match your needs?

I'm happy with my adjustment today and am headed back next week for follow up.

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