Recently, I had a fairly severe back injury. I’ve had severe back injuries in the past but this one was a little different. It lingered for about 4 weeks and did not seem to respond to my usual treatment methods. In the past, I’ve experienced muscle strains, a nasty disc herniation, disc derangement, SI joint sprains, etc. I’ve had radiculopathy that caused me to limp and drag my leg and looking for the nearest chair to sit down anytime I was on my feet. That lasted for about 2 weeks. I’ve had SI joint pain that was so sharp and stabbing that I spent 3 days straight face down on my living room floor because it was the most comfortable (least painful). Needless to say, I’m well-versed in low back pain, not just from my education as a chiropractor, but my own personal issues with it.
This recent injury happened while weightlifting. I was attempting a heavy one rep max back squat. The lift was going well until about ¾ of the way up, my lower thoracolumbar spine flinched what felt like a millimeter and my back went into immediate spasm. Over the next day, it continued to worsen, but it did not feel like injuries I’ve had in the past. I had no radiating pain or numbness/tingling. No true antalgic posture. Only a few relieving positions. When I stood up from being seated, it was a roll of the dice whether I could stand up without severe pain, some pain or a crippling spasm that would drop me to my knees or grab onto something.
I tried a number of different treatment modalities. Core bracing, end range loading, mobilization, massage therapy. Nothing seemed to help. It took me a while to feel comfortable enough with getting adjusted. Not physically comfortable, but mentally comfortable. I was not certain I would tolerate getting adjusted. Surprisingly, my lumbar spine and lower thoracic spine adjusted well. Some recent research that Dr. Sarah learned through an adjusting seminar stated that non-radiating low back pain responds extremely well to manual adjusting followed by immediately loading the spine. So Dr. Sarah adjusted me and I started loading my back with some shallow kettlebell deadlifts from a box. It was a very short range of motion, but I was able to lift 80 pounds for reps.
I responded fairly quickly following with repeated treatments. It was an awesome reminder to trust the process as well as a reminder of what our patients might often experience. Fear avoidance behavior, questioning if and when they might get some relief, a fair amount of hopelessness. It was also a great reminder as to the efficacy of what we do as chiropractors. It is not just adjusting the spine, but knowing when and how to adjust and just as importantly, what follows after adjusting.