Part I: The Problem
My neck has been bothersome for a very long time… decades really. Goodness knows why I never really did anything about it. I just got used to being stiff or sore and having tight shoulders. Yoga always helped. I just explained away the occasional tingles in my fingers as a result of my bag being too heavy.
After I fell in March of 2013, my neck issues became significantly worse. I had so many other things to worry about, like how to get my mouth put back together, I couldn’t handle that too. I just figured with yoga and time, it would improve. It always did before. Not this time. By March of this year, it caused me so much pain and discomfort, I could barely stand it. It would start in the left side of my neck and radiate up to my temple and down my shoulder. Sometimes, I even felt it in my fingers. Desperate for some relief, I found a chiropractor who took my health insurance.
My first appointment was an eye-opener. My new chiropractor spent about an hour and 20 minutes with me. I was impressed by how thorough he was. He asked me a lot of questions about and in addition to the paperwork I filled out. He observed my standing and sitting posture. He weighed me to see if I put more weight on one foot than the other (I do…10 pounds.) He checked the sensitivity on both sides of my body and compared one side to the other. He checked my spinal alignment and flexibility. He took several X-rays of my neck. He had been cracking jokes and telling stories while he worked but when he saw the X-rays, he looked concerned and grew quiet.
He didn’t want to give me a full diagnosis until after he got my MRI from the hospital but he showed me the X-ray and pointed at three of my vertebrae. “You see how jagged those three are compared to the others?” I did. He went on to explain that he never saw that much damage in someone as young as I was and it couldn’t have been caused by just the fall. Since he mentioned it, I remembered older injuries: a car accident at 17. A cyst had been removed from my neck as baby. Oh yeah, I had been born with a broken collar bone!
My first adjustment was subtle. He wanted to do a full work-up before he put a treatment plan together for me but it was obvious I was suffering. He wanted me to be more comfortable. I can’t say that first appointment or even the first several were like a miracle fix. I had a lot of damage and it was going to take some time to reverse. I felt enough of a shift though that I knew I was on the right track.
The MRI revealed a bulging disc and two herniated discs. One of the hernias even had its own little hernia. The discs were pressing on the surrounding nerves, creating the radiating pain, intermittent numbness and tingling. The X-ray had, as mentioned, shown the three degenerated vertebrae. Essentially, I have spinal arthritis due to injury. The overall functionality of my neck was at about 65%. Suffice it to say, my neck was (pardon my French) fucked up! Luckily, I do have a knack for finding very confident, competent practitioners. My chiropractor felt certain he could get me back up to 90-95% functionality and relieve the pain.
To be continued….