When I was 18 years old, I started to randomly have back pain at the base of my spine. I had no injury, no trauma (not from the bull riding below)...just gradually came on and would bother me sitting at school (in those nifty connected chair to desk hard as a rock, remember those?). I would turn and twist and try and pop it to help during the day. After playing a softball game, I would feel a dull, ache that wouldn’t fully go away and I had no idea why.
All my parents knew to do was to give me ibuprofen and ice it. We just thought it would get better and go away over time. Being an athlete my whole life, it was very much “suck it up”, “push through it”, “ignore it”. We even bought some kinesio-tape to help get me through longer softball tournament days. My coaches didn’t know what to do. When it didn't get better over several months, my mom mentioned her co-worker uses a chiropractor and maybe we should try that.
I had my initial visit with the chiropractor who was nice and took X-rays and said my spine was too straight. She told me adjustments would help, but it would take awhile to fix my back pain and I would need to come in 3 times a week all summer. I went seeking treatment for my lower back but she also adjusted my neck and upper back and used some thumper gun on my stomach? I did not seem to have a choice in the matter.
Even in my 18 year old mind, I did not think she took time to speak with me and learn more about me and not even sure we talked about me playing softball which was a major part of my life. How can you not ask about what I do for exercise or activity when I’m having pain with a structure that is vital for that?! I was given no exercises, no real education on what was going on in my back. It would feel better right after but then the pain would come back the next day.
I am not writing this to bash chiropractors by any means. This could have been any healthcare professional! But, I know my story is too common across the board from what patients tell me and it inspires me to be better. We all deserve to have someone listen to our story, to understand what we aspire to do and help us get there or if not, point us to someone who can! I’ll go into Part II of my story next week to tell you more of my back pain journey. Until then, know that no matter what the injury, pain, condition, disease...find a healthcare practitioner who listens and cares about you and it will make all the difference in your life. We are out there!