Recently I experienced an injury that scared me. I was frightened that I was going to need disc surgery on my cervical spine. I did not need surgery. My body healed with the help of chiropractic adjustments, decompression therapy, acupuncture, and time. First, a little bit of history. In 1999 when I became a client of chiropractic care, one of the issues I was dealing with was left arm pain. I had an MRI of my cervical spine. The radiology report revealed the following: At C5-C6 there is a mild to moderate central disc protrusion which flattens the cord at this level. Mild diffuse disc bulges are also seen at C3-C4 and C4-C5. Degenerative disc changes at C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6. Reversal of lordosis.
Lordosis relates to the curve of the cervical spine. A healthy spine has a lordotic curve. Reversal of lordosis means that the curve of my spine was going in the opposite direction. The nerves that exit the spine from C3-C6 supply the upper extremity. The degenerative changes in my spine could be contributing to the pain in my arm. Bottom line, my spine was not in good shape from a structural perspective. And clearly, my function was not optimal either. There were a lot of degenerative changes for a 31 year old. I started my corrective care plan at Westwood Family Chiropractic. My function was restored and my spinal structure started to change.
Fast forward to six weeks ago. I pulled my left rhomboid muscle during exercise. That night my neck was very stiff and my wrist was really sore. I asked Jacob to adjust both my spine and my extremity. The next day, I felt sore but went to exercise in the morning anyway. This was not the best decision in the whole wide world. Over the next few days, the pain moved into my trapezius and posterior shoulder. In addition to my chiropractic adjustments I thought massage would be a good idea. Two weeks later, I felt some improvement but was not functioning at 100%. We left for a long anticipated vacation to Mexico. In the airport I accidentally slammed my head against a low ceiling chasing after Jack. I didn’t really think anything of it. Two days later, in Mexico, I had intense pain in my shoulder and arm. I continued to get adjusted and received a massage on the beach. (A massage on the beach would HAVE to make EVERYTHING better, right?!!!???) That night the pain intensified. Determined to function normally, the next morning, I went for a 2 mile run. Really, really bad idea. By the time I met Jacob and Jack at breakfast, I was in tears due to the pain. Jacob and I took a step back and looked at all the signs and symptoms and realized that I had done something to exacerbate my disc injury from long ago. The pain was getting worse and intensifying and I had lost some motor strength in my left arm. These factors were scaring me. We arrived home on Tuesday October 8th. Jacob and I discussed our options and created a plan that included chiropractic adjustments, decompression therapy, acupuncture, and rest. After three weeks of combined care, I am about 90% better and I do not need surgery.
Here are some of the lessons I learned and thought might be helpful to share.
- Listen to your body. When you injure your body, listen to the signs, and respond accordingly. The body has an intelligence. It sends us signs and signals for a reason. Listening to these signs and signals will help you to understand what your body needs.
- Healing is a process that takes time. – Even though I tell people this all the time, it is one of the most difficult principles for me to practice. As a chiropractor, I need to use my body to do my work. As a mother, I need my body to do my work. I kept saying I don’t have time for this. I needed to make the time and take the time to allow my body to heal and respond to the care I was receiving.
- Have a support team that you trust.
- Change MIGHT be necessary. – I LOVE to workout HARD! I love the endorphin rush. I love the sweat. I love the results. I will not stop working out. Movement is one of the KEYS to health. However, I just might choose to tone it down a notch. 🙂
- Accept help. – This is not an easy one for me either. However, in this situation it was absolutely necessary to accept help. Accepting help made me stronger.
- AND not OR – When there is a problem with our health, we often want AN answer. We want to know, what is THE thing that is the cause of the dysfunction. Realistically, the answer often is not just ONE thing but a combination of things. This can be frustrating because it may take more time to find the most effective solution and may take more time to heal.
- Reevaluate your healthcare plan. – Sometimes other things in life take priority over our health. I am guilty of this too. I am recommitting to doing the things I need to do on a regular basis to support my health.
- There are other options besides surgery if you have a disc injury. – Sometimes disc surgery IS necessary. However there are other options that you can pursue prior to surgery if you have a disc injury. I chose chiropractic adjustments, decompression therapy, and acupuncture. I am certain that had I been evaluated by an orthopedist, he would have potentially recommended physical therapy but more likely he would have recommended surgery.
- Acknowledge fear but don’t let it own you. – Fear seeped into my mind and got control of me for a little bit. Fear is a powerful agent. It can motivate you. It can paralyze you. Fear happens. It is natural. When it happens, take some time to evaluate the fear.
I had a FANTASTIC team that helped me through this issue. I’d like to acknowledge them.
Jacob – Jacob stepped up in a HUGE way. When we were in Mexico, he took care of Jack and MADE me rest. He got up with me in the middle of the night when I was crying due to the pain. He talked things through with me and helped to create a plan. He remained calm and confident in my body’s ability to heal even when I waivered and was caught up in my fear. When we returned home, he took care of my clients so I could continue to rest and heal. He adjusted me with love and precision. He supported me unconditionally.
Green Mountain Chiropractic and Massage – I went to Green Mountain Chiropractic and Massage because they offer decompression therapy. The purpose of the decompression therapy is to decompress the spine, rehydrate the disc, and take pressure of the spinal nerves. Drs. Morries and Wolff took excellent care of me. http://www.drmarkwolff.com/
Jana Morian, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac- of Inspired Wellness – Jana is INCREDIBLE and KNOWS her stuff! Acupuncture is a superb option for reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow. http://inspired-wellness.com/about-us/jana-royer-morian/
Juliana Wierimaa – Juliana is our nanny. She is a dream. She provides loving care to Jack. The first week we got back from Mexico, Juliana was at our house almost every day so that I could take care of myself. I am so, so thankful to have someone I trust to care for Jack.
Today I am more grateful than ever for my health, the alternative healing arts, and my family. If you are injured and looking for answers, give us a call. We can help create a plan for you to restore your function and health.