What I’m going to write here probably isn’t universally applicable. If you follow the links to my sources, you’ll find that my experience only represents a narrow slice of the big picture, but none-the-less, this is my experience, and I feel I need to defend chiropractors since they have provided a much needed, affordable, and effective solution to a condition that was robbing me of much of the joy in my life.
My story starts with chronic lower back pain that dates back as far as I can remember. I have always suffered from varying amounts of pain, and, for the most part, I came to accept it as part of life. There were times when I aggravated my lower back condition to the point that I wound up in the emergency room, but the doctor would just look at my back and tell me that I had muscle spasms that were putting pressure on my spine and causing me pain. One doctor commented that he was surprised I could even walk. The doctors gave me muscle relaxants that didn’t help enough to convince me I should continue taking them. My back would eventually improve and I’d just tolerate the constant, low level pain.
About the only relief I found in those early years was a doctor of osteopathy named Dr. Lobb. Back then, I worked in the fields and did some heavy construction. The pain in my back would get pretty extreme, and it got really difficult to get to work. Old Dr. Lobb would manipulate my spine for $5 a visit, and I would be able to go back to work.
Fast forward about 20 years and I was losing range of motion in my neck. My condition was deteriorating and got so bad that I could not look over my left shoulder at all. Although I learned to tolerate the lower back pain, I couldn’t live without being able to turn my head, and the muscles around my neck were constantly sore. I suppose a physical therapist would have been a good choice, but the nearest one was 35 miles from where I lived, they couldn’t get me in for 30 days, and I wasn’t sure if I could afford physical therapy. Schilsky’s Chiropractic was about 15 miles away, they got me in right away, and an adjustment at the time was only $30, which included e-stim massage.
Dr. Schilsky insisted that I get X-rays before he would commence treatment, so I paid for X-rays of my lower back and neck. The X-rays revealed two things. The first was that I had a spondylolisthesis in my lower back, which had been there since before my spine had hardened into bone, which happens around 5 years of age. At this time, I was over 30 years old, and no medical doctor had bothered to discover this, much less offer any real treatment. The second discovery was that my neck had lost it’s natural curve; probably due to the bazillion hours I had spent staring at a computer display at work.
Looking at the X-rays and listening to Dr. Schilsky explain my condition, I was satisfied that what was being presented to me fit the symptoms that had landed me at the clinic. Furthermore, the recommended treatment plan was similar to what I had experienced with Dr. Lobb, about 15 years before this. If you do any serious research regarding chiropractic therapy, you’ll find that the picture is pretty grim, although the scientific reviews do conclude that spinal manipulation can help some people.
I can’t say that the science is biased against chiropractic therapy, but they do tend to focus on some ridiculous claims that date back to the 19th century. I don’t accept most of those claims. I wouldn’t go to the chiropractor if I had an infectious disease.
What I will say is this: After I completed a few weeks of therapy, I had the full range of motion back in my neck, and my lower back pain was much improved. A follow-up X-ray showed that I had regained the normal curve in my neck. I’ve been told that isn’t proof of the efficacy of the treatment; it doesn’t prove causality. Well, lets consider that I had been suffering for 20 years with lower back pain, and for the past 15 it has been almost non-existent. Did my lower back cure itself in those 3 weeks? Why didn’t it cure itself sooner?
Then there is my neck. It had been getting progressively worse for months. All of a sudden, it got better, and the X-rays offer objective evidence of the change. Some people who ridicule me would have you believe that my neck got better on it’s own, and I have been duped into thinking that the therapy played a part in my recovery. I will concede that my case isn’t proof of efficacy, but the results are enough evidence for me to say that chiropractic therapy helped me get my life back. Maybe the chiropractor did nothing more than what a physical therapist might have done, but I got 3 weeks of treatment for around $600. That bill would have been more like $2000 had a seen a physical therapist; if I could have gotten an appointment. Furthermore, the medical doctors had their chance to discover the problem in my lower back and they didn’t even bother to look.
It’s important to note, that I have made some lifestyle changes since I discovered that I suffer from a chronic lower back condition. Dr. Schilsky told me what I should do to strengthen my back, and things I should avoid to protect it. Those changes have played a significant role in reducing the pain level in the long term. I still get occasional adjustments, and they seem to help; especially my neck, since I still spend too much time at a computer.
My chiropractor (currently Dr. Smith) is my only doctor, since I can’t afford to see a medical doctor. I injured my back in a fall a few years back, and it was bad. I fell backwards and one side of my back hit the corner of a piece of furniture. I could tell, after a few days, that the pain was escalating, so I went to Dr. Smith for an X-ray. Sure enough, there was a visible deviation in my spine that hadn’t been there before. After about 5 adjustments, my back pain subsided and I felt like I was able to stand up straight, again. I had a full recovery, with no surgery or medication.
The reason I’m writing this is because I have been laughed at and ridiculed by “critical thinkers” for embracing “junk science”. I was called a sucker and a moron. If you’re one of those people, I only have one thing to say to you. I lived with a burning pain in my back for over 20 years. I had trouble sleeping at night. It hurt to have sex, and do pretty much anything. Today, I don’t have that pain. I may not be able to prove causation, but I have enough evidence to give credit where credit is due. You can laugh all you want, but you don’t know me, and you don’t know what I went through. You’re only proving that you’re a jackass. The science on some chiropractic therapies is inconclusive, others are supported by evidence. You aren’t much of a critical thinker if you don’t realize that just because something can’t be proven in a clinical study doesn’t mean it’s not true. Science still hasn’t figured out what we should and should not eat, for long term health. There are many things that are difficult to study. All I care about is a positive result. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
I can’t tell you that chiropractic care will work for you. I think there are some good chiropractors out there. I love Dr. Smith. He helps a lot of people, and he’s helped me. Your mileage may vary.
I leave you with this quote, but I suggest you read the source article to get the full picture …
Chiropractic is not a science, but that doesn’t mean that nothing they do is based on science. There is evidence that spinal manipulation therapy is effective for some kinds of low back pain. It is no more effective than other treatments for low back pain, but is a viable option for patients who prefer it. It is not exclusive to chiropractors, but is also used by physical therapists, physiatrists and doctors of osteopathy. In essence, the one “claim to fame” that chiropractors have is not really anything uniquely chiropractic but is a manual therapy shared with other disciplines.