If you've read my exercise blog before, you may know that I have struggled with chronic back pain for going on 10 years now.  As anyone who has experienced it knows, back pain is no joke, and no laughing matter either. In my case, I'm not aware of any immediate cause - my lower back just got stiffer and stiffer, until I could barely put on my shoes in the morning. Finally I started seeing a chiropractor, and things went downhill from there, as years of pent up tension and dysfunction were gradually released, creating havoc among the muscles that had been compensating for the spinal alignment problems for many years. After a year or two of regular chiropractic visits, the bouts of pain became less frequent, and less extreme. But I still have to be careful about what I do, and it sometimes seems the smallest thing will trigger a relapse. You may know what I'm talking about if you've experienced it yourself....

I've felt for some time that there has to be a solution somewhere. My body was made to move, and move without pain. No matter how it got to the state it had come to, shouldn't there be a way to reverse it, and get back to a normal, healthy, flexible and pain-free back? But what is the answer? It's certainly not drugs (a temporary aid at best), or surgery (one older lady I know just had her 5th back surgery; she is in constant pain and on several drugs for it, and has been for many years, having more and more of her spine removed and/or fused with each surgery; she has never been to a chiropractor or tried any sort of natural treatment, and probably never will. I expect soon she will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life).

I know that part of the answer comes with activity. I never had any such symptoms until several years at a desk job, sitting almost constantly for 8 hours at a time. Talk about unnatural! But such is the way of the world these days. Unnatural as it may be for our bodies, it is indeed normal in today's society to sit at a desk for 8+ hours per day. All we can do is find a way to move as much as possible even while working (such as is discussed in Dr. Levine's book, Move A Little, Lose A Lot). And we can also find ways to strengthen our muscles and joints so that they stay strong and flexible, and able to support our weight and handle other tasks we may throw at them unexpectedly.

I've read a lot of books on the topic, from Jesse Cannone's "Lose the Back Pain," to Dr. Joseph Weisberg's "3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life," to (my favorite) several of Pete Egoscue's "Pain Free" books. Each of these books was great, and I found the exercises very helpful and still do many of them to this day. The lower back series in Egoscue's "Pain Free" has gradually pulled me out of several major debilitating episodes of pain, including my most recent one last spring, when I could barely walk for several days. I felt like these books put me on the right track, and the information in them is highly enlightening, and I recommend them to anyone experiencing chronic pain.
But I still felt something was missing. While the exercises were great at gradually getting my body back where it needed to be, and helping ease the pain, and keeping my joints flexible, it didn't answer the question of why this kept happening in the first place. And while chiropractic treatments were great at putting my bones back into proper alignment and immediately alleviating the worst of the pain, those results also didn't last - I'd regularly find myself back with the same problem again - often within just a few days.

Then I met "Dr. D." (His patients really call him that.) :-) Recommended to me by a friend from church during my last major pain episode, Dr. D. has become my secret weapon for all things pain-related. After just a few sessions with him, I soon gave him my own descriptive nickname - "The Body Detective."Dr. D. is a local chiropractor, but he's not like any chiropractor I have met before - and he doesn't want to be. After many years of practicing the standard "bone cracking," as he calls it, he grew frustrated like me. Why where his patients coming back over and over with the same problems? Obviously he wasn't really healing them (as he often says, he doesn't heal - only the body can do that), so what was the answer? How could he actually help his patients fix their pain problems, and not just temporarily alleviate them? How could he not just put their bones back into place, but help the body keep them there?

He then embarked on a journey into non-traditional means of healing and different methods of helping the body regain balance and structural integrity - a journey which continues to this day. He combines elements of acupressure, acupuncture, reflexology, physical therapy, and chiropractic care, in unique ways specific to each patient's needs.
I have learned more from Dr. D. this year than I can fit into 10 blog posts! Interestingly enough, dozens of times he has mentioned principles, exercises, and even metaphors from some of the books I have read. But the books weren't enough to get me where I want to be. They were a great starting point, but I needed that personal care. I needed someone to assess my body - my muscles, joints, nerves, and bones, and give me specific treatments and exercises designed to treat my exact dysfunctions.

So where am I now? On the mend, I would say. The nerve pain in my leg took 6 months go away (Dr. D. says nerves can take as long as 6 months to a year to heal) - going gradually from excruciating, to just annoying, to a vague discomfort when touched. Finally, in October, I noticed it was gone. Over the summer, we moved through treating the immediate issues with the nerves, and into the more challenging phase of figuring out what caused the issue in the first place, and how to help the body keep it from happening in the future. My current series of prescribed exercises stretches chronically tight areas in my hips and back, and strengthens the muscles surrounding my lower spine. I do them almost daily, and they take a bit of time, but it's worth it to help my body get back to a natural state of health and wholeness. I'm hoping to finally correct the issues that have caused periodic pain for years. I will keep you posted on my progress.

If you experience chronic pain, I KNOW what you're going through! I encourage you to seek out a long-term solution - not just a stop-gap measure. Take the time to educate yourself, and learn what is causing the problem, so you can learn how to fix it. The books I recommend have loads of useful information, including some important questions you simply must ask your doctor if he/she proposes surgery. And if you need to, seek professional help from someone like Dr. D., who truly understands the body and how it works and why, and can assess your symptoms individually with you and come up with a treatment plan, instead of just surgically removing parts of your body that are meant to be there and hoping it helps. (If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, you can contact Dr. D. through his website at http://www.drdhealth.com/.)



07/04/2015 11:35am

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