I came to some conclusions and made some decisions. A few weeks back, I mentioned that I was going to work with a chiropractor that I trust. Dr. Sean trains with us at my school and were it not for him, I would likely never consider chiropractic care as a viable option. The only problem is that his office is deep in Tacoma. So, while Dr. Sean would be my first choice, I’ve had to figure out how I can get the attention I need somewhere a little closer to home.
Fortunately, another guy at the school whom I’ve known for years recommended his chiropractor, who has an office much closer to my house, about halfway between where I live and the BJJ school. I went to see him for the first time on Tuesday and my initial reaction was very positive.
There were some definite things he did that I liked. First, he was extremely cautious. The first day, he didn’t do any kind of an adjustment. Instead, he did some tests along the lines of, “Do this. Does that hurt? Any tingling or numbness? Okay. Do this. Pain?” He also took some x-rays and requested my MRI that was done a few years back from the hospital.
Second, he did a lot of explaining. He described my symptoms back to me, a good way to let me know that he’d been listening and understood what I was saying. He then told me some common causes for my issues and explained how he works. And then he sent me home no worse off than when I came in.
All in all, a very good start. I went in the next day, yesterday, to take a look at the x-rays and talk in more detail about what is going on, and he then did an adjustment.
Turns out I’m suffering from disc degeneration in my L5 vertebrae. If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a nifty, interactive video I found. The intarweb is awesome and the narrator even sounds like the guy who did the voiceover for the films we watched in biology class in school. If you’re getting the impression that this isn’t entirely good news, you’re right. It’s not. As the chiropractor said yesterday, once the disc is gone, you can’t get it back. According to the doc, I’m not at phase 2 yet, but I’m also well past phase 1… somewhere between the two.
What I need to do now, according to my new chiropractor, is keep what I have for as long as I can. I am not anxious to find any kind of surgical solution to this problem for many reasons (although if you ask me when I’m suffering from muscle spasms, sciatica and the subsequent sleep deprivation, I’d agree to just about anything if you promised to make the pain stop). A combination of everything I’ve been doing, plus regular chiropractic care, according to this chiropractor, will help maintain what disc I have left, help stabilize everything and keep me functioning as well as possible. He said that this might mean never having surgery or maybe putting it off for 30 years… as opposed to 10 as I progress into phase II degeneration and on toward phase III.
So, not altogether good news. I appreciate that he didn’t blow smoke up my behind. He admitted that I might experience blow outs in my back… it’s just the nature of the beast. Where my disc should be nice and puffy, my L5 disc is about a 1/4 of where it should be.
In spite of all that, I went to class and had a good time. I was a little sore toward the end of class, but after a little ice on the lower back and a good dinner, I felt great by bedtime.