Back pain is the last symptom
Have you ever “felt good” and then, out of nowhere, you can’t stand up straight? I see that so often in my office. No symptoms, then boom, 1 day, you “didn’t do anything”, and now you can’t stand up straight. Most people usually say “I’ve never had back problems before”, until they do.
That’s the problem with using symptoms as a gauge. Symptoms, like back pain, are usually the last thing to show up in a degenerative process. All the while, problems have been growing, under the surface, just not “felt”. Symptoms are also the first things to leave, all while nothing has changed. That’s why drugs like Alleve and Tylenol are so effective at making you think that everything is fine, when in reality, it is not. Just because you don’t “feel” it, doesn’t mean things are working the right way. Luckily there is a better way!
Structure dictates Function
Did you ever take Anatomy & Physiology in college? A&P is the course that shows how the anatomy of the body and how the body functions, are related. In other words, how Structure, dictates Function. For example, the heart is a pump. That is its structure. It pumps blood through your arteries to all the tissues of the body. That is its function. The heart does NOT provide structure for the body (that is the responsibility of your bones). The heart doesn’t extract nutrition from the food you eat (that is the responsibility of your digestive organs).
As it relates to your spine, there is a structure to your spine that is ideal. The better the structure of your spine, the better it functions. When you start to lose that ideal structure (subluxation of the vertebrae), the spine begins to degenerate faster than it should, producing all types of losses to function – not just to the bones and discs of the spine, but also affecting the nervous system connection, and therefore, where those nerve go. (I will talk about that in other posts as well). The longer that this loss of structure (subluxation) is allowed to continue (the more chronic the subluxations are), the worse the function of the spine, the worse the connection of the nervous system, the worse the health of the individual.
Everything was fine, until it wasn’t
This case was an amazing restoration and I was so happy to see both the changes on x-ray, but also the changes in her overall health and function. The patient is a 43 year old female, who works in the service industry. Service industry jobs require long hours on your feet, and carrying heavy loads in awkward positions. When you combine those work related stresses with a subluxated, misaligned spine, you have the recipe for failure.
Like so many other cases, she “never had any back problems before”, so she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t stand up straight, why the pain was radiating down into her legs, and why she was having digestive distress (severe constipation since her injury). She says she “reached forward to clean off a table, heard a pop, and then couldn’t straighten up. The pain dropped her to her knees and she had to be helped onto a bench to sit down. Her husband drove her to the office for care because she couldn’t drive herself.
The top x-ray shows a severe loss of lumbar curvature (lordosis), as well as a significant degeneration of her L5 disc. The worse the lordosis, the more stress on the disc, the faster the disc is going to wear away.
We started her on an initial 6 month corrective care plan, with spinal adjustments 2x/week. Initially, we had to perform McKenzie Disc Therapies to move the disc material away from the sensitive nerve tissue. After she became functional again, we no longer performed the McKenzie maneuvers and stuck to the spinal structural correction.
Principle 6 – There is no process that does not require time
Principle 6 of Stevenson’s 33 Chiropractic Principles states that there is no process in the body that does not require time. Breakdown takes time to occur. Health and healing equally take time to happen as well. Luckily restoration happens faster than breakdown. As you can see by the second x-ray, we reversed and restored her curvature to almost normal / ideal. By itself, that is a great outcome. When you combine it with better digestive function (she lost 7 lbs just because her digestive tract started operating properly), better rest, more energy, and clearer thought (her mental fog went away), she regained Quality of Life – she regained function.