Thursday, August 9, 2012

Snap, Crackle, Pop

I went to the chiropractor for the first time yesterday. I've had a stiff, sore neck and shoulder for years. Push-ups, planks, and sit-ups made it worse, and physical therapy didn't help. My doctor sent me to a specialist recently after hearing my complain for the seventh or eighth time. It took six weeks to get an appointment. The specialist tested my reflexes but didn't bother to look at my neck. She told me to schedule an appointment for an MRI and said we'd meet in about a month to discuss the next steps, which would likely be more physical therapy. I did not feel encouraged.

I know some people who speak highly of chiropractors and my insurance covers it, so I thought, "Why not?" I looked at reviews online and called an office nearby. I met the doctor the next day. He took my history, and pulled out a lifelike model of a human vertebra that was hiding under his desk. He explained the basic principles of realigning the spine and gave me a quick lecture on the importance of breathing, a subject he said he could talk about for months. ("I try to do it as much as possible," I said. "Good!" he replied.) Then he had me lie down while he investigated my neck and back. He found several tight, "frozen" spots, which weren't just around my neck. He did some deep massage to warm up my muscles before he did a number of adjustments. He was pleased with every snap and pop he produced. I didn't mind, since it didn't hurt.

He sent me home with a follow-up appointment and advice to do a couple of simple stretches. He told me I'd probably sleep well that night, since first-time patients often reported that at their second visit.

I left feeling better. I could turn my neck further in each direction, with less pain than before, and my back felt looser. Walking home, I felt I was standing taller. Later on, hunched over at my desk, I got a headache, and my neck started to tense up again, but it still felt better than it had.

And, as he predicted, I slept deeply through the night. My neck isn't great today, but it does feel a little less stiff and painful. My posture seems much better, too, which doesn't make a lot of sense, but I'm not complaining. I think there must be something to this. I'll continue to see him and I may cancel that MRI at the end of the month.

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