by Dr. K
Chiropractic is not just for back pain and will restore your health naturally.-1st Chapter
| "Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open." -B.K.S. Lyengar
Chapter 1: My Chiropractic Story and Why I Chose to be a Chiropractor
In 1996, I was involved in what most would consider a "minor" fender bender car accident, where I was hit from behind, while my car was at a complete stop. There was very little damage to my car. Little did I know that this one life event would set me up for years of pain and suffering.
My initial injuries from the car accident, which came on about an hour after the accident, were a stiff neck and a roaring headache. It was decided by my co-workers at the time that I should go to the ER, so an ambulance was called and an emergency scene was created in the parking lot where I worked. An exam and x-rays were performed, and I was sent home with a diagnosis of whiplash and post-accident headache. At the time of the accident, I was eighteen years old and my knowledge of what care I should be receiving for these injuries was very little. So, when the ER doctor put me in a neck brace to allow my neck to "rest" and prescribed pain medication with muscle relaxants, I followed his advice. After all, he is the doctor. That was the standard of care for whiplash.
Fast forward about a month, and I am being sent to physical therapy to strengthen my neck, and at this point I am suffering with constant daily headaches. With therapy, the neck stiffness and weakness began to resolve, although my neck was not the same as before the accident. However, the daily headaches continued to be persistent. I was referred to various doctors, including neurologists, orthopedists, psychiatrists, and pain management doctors. I was prescribed a multitude of medications including pain killers, migraine medications, anti-depressants, and beta blockers. Nothing that I was prescribed eliminated my daily headache pain that varied from a slight headache to so much pounding pain, that all I could stand to do was lie in a quiet darkened room. Now, I was a first-year college student, living away from home, and working part-time. These everyday headaches greatly began to affect my everyday life, and each day was a struggle.
Months passed, I moved home for the summer and attended my second year of college in my home town, and the daily headaches continued. By this point, I had accepted that I would have to live the rest of my life with a headache every day. It was not the same headache every day, but a variety of headache types.
For my 3rd year of college, I am living in Denver, and the insurance company continues to refer me to various doctors, with an emphasis of head doctors, or psychiatrists. I was given a battery of psychiatric tests, as it seemed that the insurance company was convinced that I was either lying about my daily pain or it was all in my head. At this point, I am 3 years' post-accident, and no one has been able to help me. I desperately just wanted someone to figure out why I was continuing to have these headaches and to stop them. Even just one day without a headache would have been an amazing gift. Suffice it to say, with all the testing, it was not determined that my pain was "all in my head" and the prescribed psychological medications were having no effect. At this point, I believe I was having to take four or five different medications, one being an emergency migraine type medication. So, to a new doctor I go, and this one decides it must be muscle tension type headaches, as the head CT scan, head MRI, and neck MRI were all normal. No tumors, YAY! Also, no explanation for the continuing headaches years after my accident. This doctor decides the best treatment plan would be to perform injections into the base of my skull, and a series of injections over time. This was most the worst treatment I had ever experienced; the injections were painful and did nothing for the headaches. It about this point in my treatments when I have been hired on as a chiropractic assistant in a chiropractor's office. My only prior experience with a chiropractor at that time was a couple of visits back in high school when I had bent over to pick up a pencil and could not straighten back up. Two to three visits, and I could stand straight again.
Getting the job as a chiropractic assistant would prove to be my best job ever, because this doctor I worked for would finally be the only doctor to relieve my daily headaches. It did not happen right away though. As with any job, you are getting to know the people you work with, and they are getting to know you. You do not go around talking about your medical problems to your co-workers. However, doctors of chiropractic are very observant, and chiropractic care was one of the benefits of my job. With my first treatment, just like at any doctor’s office, I filled out paperwork and he took my history and was filled in on my three-year history of headaches post-accident, and all my current medications I was taking that were doing nothing for me. For the first time, a doctor took the time to use his hands to touch the involved muscles; in my case, the muscles in my neck and at the bottom of my skull. I would like to share with you that the power of touch alone is amazing. With his exam of my neck and back, he was able to determine that I was suffering from chronic muscle tightness due to these particular muscles never being addressed following my car accident. In addition, he found that some of the vertebra of my spine were “out of place” and not moving properly. With his combined treatment approach of healing modalities including electrical muscle stimulation and heat, along with muscle massage, gentle stretches, corrective exercises, and adjusting the areas of my spine that were in need; I for the first time in 3 years experienced some relief from my pain. Long story short, over the next three months or so, I was weaned from all my medications. Why? For one, they were not working, and for two, the very medications I was taking can cause a headache known as rebound headaches. As a chiropractor, he was able to educate me on the side effects of the particular medications I was on, and restore function to my muscles and spine, allowing me to stop taking prescriptions that can be more harmful than good. He taught me more about the different types of headaches, including rebound headaches, and that the possible side effects of my exact medications could be headaches. They were very possibly a contributing factor to my continuing headache pain. Hmmmm…. I don’t know about you, but this was an eye opener to me. Why did my doctors continue to keep me on medications that were not helping and could cause rebound headaches, just one type of headache? I never received an answer for that one. Since then I have learned that doctors of medicine are able to treat your symptoms with drugs or surgery. They were throwing everything they could think of at my headache pain, in the hopes that one might work. Guess what though, the weaning of those medications, combined with hands on muscle treatment and chiropractic adjustments resulted in me finally having headache free days! I wouldn’t say I no longer had headaches, but they were finally decreasing in how painful and how often they occurred. And with my continued care, more frequently at first and then spreading out my visits as my spine and muscles showed improvement, within about six months, I was completely headache free. What did it feel like to no longer be plagued by daily headaches? I literally felt lighter than a feather, like I floated everywhere I went. It was life-changing for me. Everything that had been so draining and hard became easy again. I began to live my life again and to enjoy life again. My chiropractor through his treatment of me enabled my body to heal.
Why am I sharing this story with you? Because this story is why I am a chiropractor today. This story is why I am so incredibly passionate about my profession. This story motivates me every single day to reach out to and help as many patients as I can; to provide them with relief from pain, to give them hope, to allow them to live their lives the way they want to, free of pain and restrictions from that pain. This story taught me the importance of listening to patients, believing in patients and what they say is happening in their bodies, and finding the causes of their pain, so that we may fix the cause and not just treat the symptoms by continuing to throw drugs at them and telling them it's all in their heads. It was not all in my head. Chiropractic worked for me, it saved my life, and this is a possibility for most everyone out there. You just must be willing to give chiropractic a chance to help you also.