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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At the Chiropractor

There are a few conversations that I have repeatedly. Not because I enjoy that specific conversation, but I find that this advice and (I'd like to think) information seem to be useful repeatedly. I thought I'd share (with permission) this exchange that I had with a friend...you never know who might find help...

....at the Chiropractor.

The Query:

Hey, your family is no stranger to injury….maybe you can help me. I’ve had a hell of a time with my lower back recently. My doctor says sciatica. My physical therapist says SI hypermobility (a hip issue). They are prescribing me narcotics and muscle relaxants which is definitely not a long term solution. I’m in PT but I want a second (third?) opinion. I’ve tried a bunch of doctors but this one only does in-patients, that one isn’t taking new patients and my PCP can’t recommend a specialist because nobody knows what’s actually wrong!!!! I’d go to a Chiropractor but I’m not convinced its back related. Any suggestions?

The Response:

Go to the damn Chiropractor.

Fun factoid: Chiropracty (my word) is NOT about treating a person’s back. It’s about treating a person’s ailments from a bio-mechanical perspective.

Think of this: if your ball joint is wearing on your car, you’re going to get worn-out tires, and perhaps (if the ball joint problem is left for too long) extra wear and tear on associated joints along the steering column. I’m talking a bit out of my element here, so grant me some lee-way. The point is that the issue with the ball joint can appear at other areas in the vehicle’s system. 

The chiropractor will seek to realign your entire skeletal system, not just the back. My chiropractor has said many times that when you address a problem with a joint, you need to also address the adjacent joints because those joints will have been compensating for the one that’s out of whack. 

Thus, if you have a problem with your knee, you’d need to mechanically treat your ankle and hip too.

Traditional (western) doctors do not ascribe to chiropracty as a legitimate medical discipline. Very Allen Harper.

When I started to go to the chiropractor, I had an issue with my ankle that was outstanding for months. I had twisted my ankle twice on a singe October day, and this was January. It was still inflamed and weak and what, and it looked like a broken bone. I had to go to a few specialists before one guy said that it’s not broken, but that I have a bone chip in my ankle.

The specialist told me that all I needed was PT. He said to go to the chiropractor if I had problems with my back, but for this, PT would do the trick. He wrote a script. I threw out the script and went back to the chiropractor. He realigned my ankle in <5 minutes and I was all better (as good as it was going to get, having been dislocated for three months), only needing a little time for inflammation to go away.

Drs. will never (or exceedingly rarely) tell you to go to the chiropractor. In my experience the chiropractor can fix a TON of things that Drs think can be fixed only with a scalpel or PT. My chiropractor also fixed my tendinitis (golfer's elbow, specifically), in about ½ of a minute. I haven't had any issues with that in several years at this point.

Here’s a quote for you:

“If the only tool that you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
~ Abraham Maslow

Drs. have two tools: scalpels and drugs. Ok three tools, including PT. These are the only ways that they know how to fix problems.

Chiropractors treat, in a whole-body fashion, the muscular-skeletal person, from the scalp down to the tiniest toes. It may not be a one-visit cure (since your body is so used to being out of tune), but a good chiropractor will be able to cure your sciatica permanently, given that you don’t have any underlying skeletal issues (I, for instance, have a condition in which my lowest vertebra is not fused properly, so I’ve got to keep on top of it or my sciatica will return).

The chiropractor will be able to tell you what’s wrong, and he’ll fix it too.

Qualifier: there's little that a chiropractor can do about hypermobility; they can adjust the joint, but as it it a hyper-mobile joint, it'll just slide back out of place in short order. But you'll have more information, at the very least.

Go to the chiropractor.


  1. I was actually... not yelled at, but spoken to sharply by one of my best friends for repeatedly recommending a chiropractor, for a problem that he was having for months, which I'd had fixed in under five minutes at the chiropractor. A simple misalignment of the tailbone he'd gotten by falling off a ski-lift.

    "I realize you drank the chiropractic koolaid, but I'm doing this my way."

    wtf? It's not a god damned cult, it's medicine that's been in practice for THOUSANDS of years, by people who generally live far healthier, and longer than us Americans... Yeah, no validity there, go ahead, be in pain for the next twelve months.

    I told him I didn't care if he tried to fix it himself in the bathroom with a plunger handle and a hand mirror.

    1. I've got a number of folks whom I've told to go to the chiropractor, and they all are very resistant to going. You can't *make* them go, but if they're not willing to do a little something to help themselves out, then I request that they stop whining about their ailments!

  2. You're preaching to the choir here....I go regularly.

  3. Great Maslow quote. Like that. I went to an RMT for my neck and shoulders (boy does that woman hurt)... I may try chiro. next time if it flares up badly (if it works for what I've got... will have to look into that). Good to know!

    1. Ok...I've tried...RMT?

      Royal Mounted Trainer?
      Red Mutant Turtle?
      Registered Medical Transcriptionist?

      What do you Canucks (pretty sure that's not offensive) do up there anyway?!?!

  4. Yes, but. You don't call a plumber when the windows break. Chiropractors aren't gods, either (though I think all docs think they are) and depending on how good they are, they may or may not know if their treatment is appropriate. Some conditions actually are made worse by chiropracty, and it's my experience that hypermobile joints is one of them. Your friend should see a rheumatologist first.

    1. Absolutely true. Although for the few hypermobile joints that I have, they are not made worse, they are only unaffacted (he puts them back, the go out again, sometimes immediately).

      There are many things that a chiropractor just can't do anything about too, but the list of items that they can positively impact is a lot, lot, lot longer than most people think (in my experience).

      Perhaps I just have an outstanding chiropractor, but he has never been ignorant of whether or not his treatment was appropriate. He has told me that he can't do anything about that, and he has also told me that he can't try until I see a medical doctor and they tell me that something is not broken.

      Ultimately, you don't know until you go.

  5. I totally agree with the last statement in the most recent reply you left to a comment here. “You never know until you go.” I think many people are hesitant to go to a chiropractor because they lack information on what chiropractic can truly do for their bodies and health. Chiropractic treatments target our skeletal structure and our nervous systems, which basically keep us moving; our muscles are nothing without the bones that move them and the nerves that tell them what to do. Correcting ailments by targeting our bones, joints, and nerves can actually help cure other pains and prevent future ones. But as you told one person here, “you can’t MAKE them go.” Still, it’s good to see that more and more people believe in the benefits of chiropractic.

    Felix Worley

  6. Thanks for stopping in, Felix. This is always an interesting subject for me, and I don't think that there's a time when I go to my chiropractor that I don't learn something. I've been known to crawl in (almost literally) and walk out 20 minutes later to go to work like nothing was wrong.

    Find a good one and go!!

  7. Nice! I think it’s a good thing that you followed your instincts and that you trusted the treatment. Aside from treating and relieving your symptoms, it really does help you to correct the cause of your pain. The best part about the process is that you can still continue to go back and do the process not just to cure your pain but, to improve your overall physical health condition. Anyway, I’m glad you’re finally back on track, Abraham. Stay healthy!

    Tiffani Villagomez

    1. Thanks for visiting, Tiffani. I do still occasionally go to my chiropractor for semi-monthly "tune ups". Just like any machine, the body periodically needs to be realigned to assure optimal condition.

  8. “The chiropractor will seek to realign your entire skeletal system, not just the back.” That’s one of the best advantages of chiropractic treatment. It doesn’t just concentrate on a single point – its effects work like a ripple, also affecting the other areas of the body. For example, when you feel back pain, the chiropractor will not just focus on the certain part that’s painful, but also the skeletal structure supporting your back.

    *Rhonda Munoz

    1. True, dat. Thanks Rhonda. In fact, my chiropractor told me that even if you have one joint misaligned, the necessary treatment includes the two additional joints that are either side of the affected one. Thus, if your elbow is at issue, he will also have to treat the shoulder and the wrist.

      The entire linkage, as it were.

  9. Aside from treating and relieving your symptoms, it really does help you to correct the cause of your pain. The best part about the process is that you can still continue to go back and do the process not just to cure your pain layton chiropractic