When the Chiropractor Hurts His Back

By Dr. Scott Rosenthal

After a long and cold winter, spring break finally arrived and I headed to the Caribbean with the family. Our itinerary consisted primarily of lounging on the beach, sipping variations of coconut drinks and playing beach volleyball. Despite the pain of waking up at 4 a.m. to catch an early flight, I felt fantastic and ready to go.

Days went by and all was going as planned. I was serving strong, hitting and enjoying the occasional dive on the sand. On Thursday, my family was joined by others at the net to play four-on-four for about two hours. Reaching for a hard-hit ball, I felt a tiny pull in my lower back and hip area on the right. It lasted less than a minute and I thought little more of it.

The next morning I was extremely tight and could barely get out of bed. Jolts of pain shot through my lower back with every movement. This was the real deal. I had a sports injury that caused acute low back and pelvic pain—something I see in the office every day. I was not at all happy about gaining this first-hand experience, nor did I appreciate the irony.

With the help of my wife (a gifted massage therapist), I was able to get out of bed and slowly move. Our last day of vacation came to a painful close and we left the next morning. I needed help getting my shoes on and my wife became the designated suitcase lifter.

It was a few days before I was able to see one of my chiropractor friends. Once adjusted, the unrelenting pain immediately began to subside. I felt as if a vice had loosened, relieving a massive pressure. I could stand and walk easier. The next day I had a second adjustment and felt even better. After my third adjustment over a four-day period, the pain was reduced by 70 percent.  

I would like to explain why this chiropractor is grateful to also be a chiropractic patient. Acute low back pain is often thought of as a condition that simply resolves in time and does not require intervention beyond pain medication. Like the thousands of patients with acute back pain that I have helped over my 25 years in practice, I had several severe subluxations (the chiropractic term for misalignments of the joints of the spine and pelvis). Medications are unable to realign the bones. It’s a physical condition requiring a physical solution. After all, you don’t fix the tire alignment on your car with a chemical!

The danger of drugs in this scenario goes far beyond the many side effects that may occur. They make you believe that your pain is the problem and not a symptom (alarm signal that something is wrong). In time, your body will compensate and the alarm will shut off. The drugs will no longer be needed, but you will likely be left with underlying imbalances (subluxations) that have been compensated for internally with changes in posture and muscle and connective tissue tension. It’s like having a pebble in one shoe. It causes pain which drugs can mask until you learn to walk more on the other leg and build up a callus to protect your foot against the stone.

The change in mechanics required by the compensation of an unresolved physical issue comes with a price. Beyond abnormal wear patterns that contribute to accelerated arthritic degeneration (such as narrowing of the disc spaces and build-up of calcified bony spurs), you are left with a ticking time bomb that will one day explode into a severe back pain episode. Think of your car again— continued driving with misaligned tires will cause extreme tire wear and a potentially devastating blow-out.

To conclude, I had a traumatic subluxation caused by a heroic attempt to save a well hit volleyball. This caused great pain and dysfunction. Instead of treating the pain, spasms and inflammation, I chose to have my spinal and pelvic bones gently realigned by my chiropractor. I started to feel better immediately. My condition never needed to go into a compensated state. I was pain-free in a few days, functioning normally and back to life as usual.

I hope that my pain can help you understand what needs to be done to end yours. When bones misalign, the only long term solution is to have a chiropractor adjust them back into place. There is no pill, cream, stretch or exercise that can do this. Give me a call—I guarantee that when I say I understand what you are going through, I MEAN IT!