Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tri'ing something new, like a Chiropractor

So, it's 2013 and I should be reflecting on 2012, good, bad and set goals for 2013, right?
Not really.

I don't really prescribe to the notion that a new year should bring a new you.  There's nothing holding you back from doing what you should now, instead of starting January 1, 20XX.

That's one reason I started seeing a Chiropractor.

A little background why...
In high school, I developed a severe lower back issue.  I would get aching and dull pain in the lumbar area and then the pain would start going down the sides of my legs and numb my legs and I would loos some strength in my legs.  At times, it was debilitating enough that it was all I could do to sit uncomfortably on the couch.  I had to give up high school football my senior year and stop playing indoor soccer, which I loved.  If I rested and didn't do any sudden movements, I could get the pain to go away, but it would come back if I simply jogged down the hallway in school when I was late for a class.

I never really could pinpoint what caused it.  No injury in football practice, soccer or around the house.  It just started and no MRI, x-ray or physical therapy appointment could give me any answers or any long term solutions.

One thing that vastly improved the situation was getting rid of my water bed that I had for 2 years and getting better shoes to be at my part time high school job standing on concrete for 4 to 5 hour shifts.  That created a situation where the extreme pain events dissipated and I could manage the minor flareups here and there.

But, something permanent came out of it and to this day, around 20 years later, I still have issues.  Sometimes having the car seat leaned too far back may cause an issue.  But, it usually resolves in less than a day.  I found that lower back strengthening exercises helped and of all things, running helped as well.

I guess you could pinpoint this as the start to my endurance "career".  If I experienced any flare-ups, I would get out on the road and as long as I was out 3 to 4 days a week at 2 to 3 miles a run, I was good to go.  So my running life was born, not from passion, but from necessity.

Sadly though, leaning over in a time-trial bike still reminds me that I have issues that still need to be resolved.  how ironic that the natural evolution of my endurance racing from running to minimize back pain to full on triathlons has once again brought me to succumbing to the back pain.  Anything over 25 miles on the bike and that dull pain comes back, shoots down my leg and zaps strength from my legs.

This doesn't bode well for Olympic, Half Ironman and full Ironman racing.  Ironman Lake Tahoe was looking to be a challenge. then good ole living social came along with a deal for an initial consultation, diagnosis and some initial treatments at a local chiropractor. That's where I met Dr. Gary Mellum at Heritage Chiropractic, which is a part of Maximized Living.

I know what some of you may say, that chiros aren't true medical professionals and the whole holistic approach is pie in the sky thinking.  But I look at it like this, the living social deal was not a huge amount and as long as I don't go excessive initially to gauge if the treatments are beneficial, it can't be any worse than doing nothing and trying to manage the pain.

Some thoughts on the chiropractic industry...
I realize that there's extreme thinking that adjusting the spine through impact and popping of the spine can cause either serious issues in itself or be completely bogus in treating true spinal deformations or issues.

There's plenty of literature out there about non-conclusive studies that cannot prove that chiropractic adjustments can limit your chances of cancer and other serious body ailments.  There's a lot of claims that go along with the holistic approach of chiropractic methods.  Basically the spine houses the nerves that serve our body and if your spine isn't aligned correctly, it could interfere with the signals from your brain to your body and organs, setting you up for everything from cancer to colds by pinching or interfering with your nervous system.

There's also some literature about the positive impacts of chiropractic adjustments.
  • A study looked at 311 chiropractic patients, ages 65 and older, who had received “maintenance care” for 5 years or longer vs. healthy citizens the same age. 
    • Chiropractic patients spent only 31% of the national average for health care 
    • They had 50% less medical provider visits Their health habits were radically better then overall populations
    • They had far less cigarette consumption 
    • 98.5% believed that care to be considerably or extremely valuable 
    • Chiropractic/wellness patients had: 
      • 60.2% fewer hospital admissions 
      • 59% less days hospitalized 
      • 62% less outpatient surgeries 
      • 85% less pharmaceutical costs
I believe this to a certain degree.  I'm not bought in that seeing a chiropractor will reduce your chances of cancer or kidney failure, but I do believe the issues I have with my lower back and sciatic nerves running through my legs is directly tied to issues with my spine.  It's out of whack and my wife who is a nurse noticed some bulging in... my back (keep it clean).

I'm not really interested in the whole MRI / doctor / specialist / 50 appointments thing again.  Been there, done that.  What are they really going to do past referring me to a physical therapist (done that), nerve specialist (done that) or spinal surgeon (no thank you - it's not worth going under the knife)?  And, who doesn't like paying for all of that under our fantastic-every growing-life sucking support system that is health insurance?  Did I mention our current insurance basically makes us pay our out of pocket before they pay anything?  What's the point of premiums?  Might as well just put some ski masks on and demand "your wallet or your life".

But I digress...
So basically in my opinion I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

I know I have spinal issues that need to be addressed (lets ignore all the "other" issues I have for now.  That's another few hundred posts).  I've tried conventional medicine and I don't really want to suffer for 6 months of training and 112 miles on race day.

I'm not going overboard embracing the holistic lifestyle and giving up Westerm medicine.  I'm still going to use Aleve when I ache and NyQuil when I have a bad cold. This is a means to adjust my spine to relieve pressure on the nerves servicing the sciatic area.

I'll give you a little foreshadowing, I've seen the x-rays, I've got real issues and I'm very hopeful that this will address my long lived back pain.  In exchange for a special rate at Dr. Mellum's, I will be posting regally about my visits to Heritage Chiropractic and how the progress is going.

Stay tuned.

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