The Surprising Advantages of Seeing a Chiropractor
A few years ago, I was moving to a new home and doing way more lifting and bending than I was used to. While I could sense my muscles tiring, I thought it was just me being a bit out of shape. I’d been handling boxes all day, so there was no forethought when I went to pick yet another one. The pain was immediate and took me to my knees, and the box was not going another inch by any effort that I could muster.
I’ve always been the kind of person who does a lot of self-care. I tend to avoid drugs and don’t much care for the thought of nasty things like operations and scalpels and stitches. Not to mention the period of recovery that comes after them. So, knowing that whatever I’d done to my back wasn’t going to go away by itself, I thought I’d try a chiropractor. Of course I’d heard about them, but had never explored what they might be able to do for me. With the intense pain I was enduring, there was nothing to lose. The one I chose was experienced in Active Release Technique (ART), and that proved to be a great benefit. ART frees compressed nerves, improves oxygen flow, relieves pain, and restores movement. And that’s exactly what I needed.
My experience was both pleasant and surprisingly effective. Here are some of the things I learned that are worth noting for the next time you find yourself having pushed your body a bit too far.
What is a Chiropractor?
I think a lot of people have a misconception about what a chiropractor is and what they do. First of all, they are not a massage therapist. While a chiropractor is not usually a medical doctor (some actually are), they typically have 8 years of higher education before they are licensed. They treat problems in the musculoskeletal system by evaluating the body’s muscles and tense spots to uncover scar tissue that’s formed from acute trauma or long-term overuse.
That’s exactly the case with my injury. I’d pushed myself throughout my life, and all those little twinges added up to the moment when my body said “enough.”
Natural Approach To Healing
Chiropractors focus on what I’d call natural healing. While they’ll tell you if there is damage that definitely requires surgical repair, they prefer therapeutic exercise and stretching, spinal adjustment, manual soft tissue therapy, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, diet and nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modification.
I won’t kid you. On my first visit, the treatment was painful. The doctor explained what was to be done, and that getting things back into proper alignment would likely sting a bit. It did. That good news was that almost immediately after my first session I felt relief.
Since I’d never been to an chiropractor, I had no idea what to expect. Beyond the amazingly quick relief, there were multiple things I noticed about my treatments that I found extraordinary in today’s world.
I felt like a person, not just a numbered patient.
Not just the doctor, but all of the staff made me feel like a real person they actually cared about. It wasn’t clinical, it was personal. While I’m sure this varies from chiropractor to chiropractor, I suspect there’s more to it than just me getting lucky.
The treatments are intense and focused.
My typical physician experience was usually okay, do this, take this, and I’ll see you back in a month. My chiropractic experience was not at all like that. Three times a week for two weeks, then tapering off. At the end of three weeks, to my amazement (and joy!) I felt as good as new. I did continue to visit, less often, to keep tabs on that area I’d spent a lifetime abusing.
I’ve since visited other chiropractors, and would suggest the following:
- Find a female chiropractor. All chiropractors receive the same kind of education and training. But women’s bodies differ from men’s in ways that having a woman’s insights can help ensure you get the most out of your visits.
- Don’t view your chiropractor as just a problem fixer, but a source of prevention. As your body ages, it can’t help but to keep it tuned up. And remember, when it comes to taking care of yourself, the primary responsibility is yours.
- Take advantage of their willingness to educate. Chiropractors are not like traditional physicians who typically say “do this” and send you on your way. Your chiropractor is more than willing to educate you about the why and how to care for your body.