Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, and Natural Medecine

Back in June of 2009, I injured my spine by attempting an advanced yoga pose (plow pose) unsupervised (yeah... I know.) and since that day I have had constant pain in the middle of my back. I sought treatment from Navy medical, who initially referred me to a physical therapist on my ship, who then referred me to a massage therapist on my ship, who then referred me back to the physical therapist, who then referred me to a chiropractor at base medical. I saw that chiropractor, maybe, three times before I was deployed with my ship in late July. While on deployment I still complained of terrible pain and stiffness in my upper back, and at first when I went to medical on the ship, they gave me Tylenol. Then, a little more perturbed, I demanded that they do an x-ray, because they had referred me to all of those different people without even doing an x-ray, after finally having an x-ray done, they told me that there was nothing wrong with my spine. Although I could see just with my naked eye that my spine was visibly curved to the left, ever so slightly. So, I was pretty pissed, but they still didn't do anything but offer me Tylenol, and so I suffered. Unfortunately, I was flown off of my ship three months into that deployment to get treatment for a different medical condition that I suppose the Navy found more important than whatever was wrong with my spine. So when back on shore, my back was still hurting, so I tried to make another appointment to see that chiropractor I had been seeing before, when I called they told me that because it had been over thirty days since my last appointment, I had to be "re-referred." And I was like, "Well that's great, because the people who referred me are in BAHRAIN!" Anyway, I gave up on that, and continued to suffer.

Then, one day in early February of 2010, I was browsing Facebook when one of the advertisements on the side of the page caught my eye. "San Diego Woman in pain?" it asked. And I said, "That's me!" I read further and it indicated that you could receive two free adjustments at this chiropractic clinic. So, on a lark, I clicked the link and found myself on a web page that looked like it had been built by a college kid, but in keeping with my what-the-heck train of thought, I filled out the appointment scheduling form and submitted it. To my surprise, the next day I received a friendly phone call from a nice young lady named Roseanna, and I realized that this place DID actually exist! And that they were actually going to give me two free adjustments! Quite different from the outcome I had expected, which was more like a bombardment of scam-emails, or an online virus or something.

On February 7th, 2010, I had my first appointment at Seaside Chiropractic. During that first appointment, Dr. David Klein did a thorough examination of my spine, as well as my posture, mobility and other ergonomic measurements (such as equal leg lengths, even shoulder heights, and muscular trigger points). From that examination, he recorded twenty-six "objective findings," which is something Dr. Klein can measure that is bad. The very next day, I was in a car wreck where I crashed head-on into a vehicle that had made an illegal left turn in front of me. I immediately informed the chiropractic office and they told me to come in the next day for another examination. After that examination, he found thirty-six objective findings! This included about nine or ten vertebrae in my spine that were out of alignment, as well as about twelve muscular trigger-points that were extremely tense and unbalanced (as in, one side of my body would be more tense than the other), which in turn made it convenient for me to have restricted motion in my neck in two different directions, limited movement of my torso (meaning I couldn't twist the trunk of my body in one direction as far as I could in the other direction), my right shoulder to be higher than my left, my right leg shorter than my left, and last but not least, my ilium bones (or, pelvic bones, the ones that support all of your organs) were twisted, the left was twisted forward and the right backward. So, needless to say, I felt pretty jacked-up.

Ever since then, I've been going to their office 3 times a week to get adjusted and have had re-examinations of my spine every month to track my progress. Over the time of this treatment, I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, not only about Chiropractic but about the body in general and its processes and functions that I had, prior to that, taken for granted and had a very weak, almost pitiful, understanding of. After being adjusted regularly for a while, I noticed that I was able to "pop" many of my own joints on my own, by doing different stretches and sort of "self-adjustments" as I call them. I became aware that the real goal of Chiropractic is not simply to "get everything in perfect alignment", because your bones are (hopefully) constantly in some sort of motion and if you have a normal lifestyle consisting of perfunctory motion (walking, standing, sitting) your bones are bound to get out of alignment somehow and it would be a futile goal to attempt to keep all of your bones and joints in perfect alignment all of the time, you'd pretty much have to lay still and never move (and even then, it's no guarantee, I find that I feel the stiffest just after waking up). ANYWAY. My point is, the real goal of Chiropractic, as I have learned, is not to aim for perfect alignment, but instead, to get all of your joints UNSTUCK and moving smoothly again! That's why most people after getting adjusted feel much "looser" and more relaxed, and less "stiff"! Because, after bones have been out of alignment for a long time, they eventually start to stick together. (I know, freaky right?) Every joint in your body consists of two (or more) bones that meet and in between those bones (to create ease of movement) is cartilage! (Dun-de-de-DAH!) After enough pressure is applied to a joint that is misaligned or out of alignment, the cartilage will literally form adhesions and eventually (we're talking over years and years) the bones with start to grow together. Gross, right? I've seen pictures, and x-rays of very old people's spines who, unfortunately, had bad posture and bad spinal health (think the little old hunchback ladies that you sometimes see waddling around) and in those x-rays you can actually SEE where their vertebrae started to fuse together! It's sick, man. And you wonder why old people always look so stiff!?

Anyway. There's more. Sometimes when a joint is out of alignment, it can pinch on a nerve and thus disrupt communication between the brain and certain parts of the body (depending on where the particular nerve goes to). This is called a subluxation. This happens more commonly with the joints between the vertebrae in your spine, simply because your spinal cord (the bundle of nerves running from your brain down to your sacrum that contains every single nerve that goes through your body) is situated right in the middle of your spine. The nerves then run out through the sides of the vertebrae and go to different parts of your body. What few people know is that, if a nerve is being pinched because of a misalignment in your spine, it can actually cause a malfunction in the part of the body that that nerve communicates with. For example, let's say your T-5 vertebrae (the middle of your back) is misaligned to the right and it just happens to be misaligned in such a way that it pinches on a nerve going from your spinal cord to your lungs. If it stays misaligned for an extended period of time, then, because that nerve is being pinched, it disrupts the communication between your brain and your lungs and therefore your lungs are no longer receiving as much oxygen as they need to function at optimum performance. You have developed symptoms of asthma! But who would have known that it had been caused by a misalignment in your spine!?!

Crazy, right? Now, I am not saying that every case of asthma is caused by this. What I am trying to say is this: Because your spine houses the essential bundle of nerves that keeps your entire body functioning properly, spinal health is extremely important! Much more important than I ever knew it could be! And the slightest misalignment in your spine could potentially be cause for a plethora of medical issues! This is not always the case though, misaligned bones do not always pinch nerves and they, therefore, do not become known as "subluxations" until they have done so. But whether or not you have a subluxation or just a misalignment in your spine, the symptoms most people experience across the board are still the same: tension, stiffness, restricted motion of the head, neck, shoulders, back, you-name-it. And, unfortunately, this is the case with God-knows-how-many people, particularly people who have been through much more damaging physical traumas than I have (imagine: stunt-people; athletes, football and rugby players especially; soldiers fighting in combat zones; etc.) and I can't help but wonder, how many people are walking around right now with pain, tension, and numerous other symptoms of various medical conditions (failing eyesight, migraines, arthritis, etc.) and are unaware that it could all possibly be treated and healed by getting adjusted regularly and exercising?

The sad thing is, I think a great deal of people DO have all of these symptoms and go through life with constant pain and they either don't do anything about it, or they go to a doctor and that doctor tells them that they'll have to take such-and-such medication for the rest of their life or the only fix is surgery, or a "hip-replacement" or something. How many of us are suffering from not only the pain of bad spinal health but also from medical bills for treatments that aren't actually helping? Or thousands of dollars wasted on a surgery or complicated procedure on a knee that could have been treated with physical therapy and chiropractic. I am a first-hand witness of the power of holistic natural medicine, that is, healing that does not include pills, surgeries, invasive procedures, or bland doctors' offices, cold hands and harsh, metal instruments. I'm talking about real, natural medicine. Healing that comes from doing things such as getting regular adjustments, physical therapy, manual therapy, doing simple stretches every day, maintaining good posture, having a good exercise routine, practicing yoga, pilates, strength-training, getting deep-tissue massages or acupuncture! (Don't these all sound great?!) It also, in my experience, means, cozily decorated offices, comfortable softly lit exam rooms, and best of all, warm hands!

I am so excited to talk about these things that I have learned from physical therapy and from chiropractic! I'm not saying that all western traditional doctors are evil and can never help you become well, but I am saying that there could be a much simpler way of resolving medical problems and achieving good health and it could mean just walking into a chiropractor's office! In my personal experience, I have finally found what I think could be the root problem of a medical condition that I have had my entire life, and it's so dumbfounding that the solution to it is to do some special stretches every day! Who would have known that, literally, exercise was the cure all along?! Also, after 7 months of getting adjusted three times a week and beginning a regular exercise routine, I am now proud to say that I've gone from thirty-six objective findings, to six objective findings. And even though I have not reached my optimum health goal yet, I know that I will achieve it if I continue to apply the things I have learned.

I wish I could share what I have learned in the past year with absolutely EVERYONE in the world because I believe that then the world would be not only a much healthier, but also happier place. Yeah, I know, that's really corny. But I'm so serious. Chiropractic and physical therapy have done so much for my health AND my life in general that I can't help but want to share what I know with everybody! I really hope that you didn't get bored with this giant novel of a post and that someone, somewhere, reading this will actually gain some knowledge and as a result, take a more deliberate, motivated course of action to achieve good health. :]

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