Chiropractors – YAY or NAY?


It seems that when you mention the word “chiropractor” to someone, you get one of two extreme responses:

  • Pro-Chiropractor Response: This person will tell you that their chiropractor solves world hunger, won a Nobel prize, allowed them to lose 85 pounds, and fixes them with a wave of his magic hands.
  • Anti-Chiropractor Response: This person will look at you like you have a fork stuck in your head at best, and at worst they’ll tell you how they died at the hands of a chiropractor and only Bud Light brought them back. Either that or their issue was made worse.

With that as the background of the typical feedback I get from people on chiropractors, I decided it was time to find out for myself.  I have a neck issue that has progressively been getting worse, to the point that when I roll over at night (which is a lot), I always wake up due to the sharp pains I feel.  Also getting off of the couch requires me to essentially lock my head/neck in place with my upper body as any bending in that area is really bad.

Please note that the chiropractor was third out of three options I had evaluated to deal with this.  If they want to jump on my lower back, that’s cool – my daughter has been doing that for years.  For some reason, to me anyway, that area seems stronger, more stable, and less vulnerable than my neck – especially with a lot of pain there anyway.  So imagining the chiropractor cranking on my neck and possibly increasing the pain did not appeal to me in any way.

So option 1, being the adventurous person that I am, was acupuncture.  That was actually pretty interesting, and worked – at least for a couple days.  The needles didn’t hurt at all, it was somewhat relaxing, and no pain involved at all.  I’d go in and barely be able to turn my neck to the right, and leave with some increased range of motion.  Problem is that I wasn’t noticing any consistent improvement over a few weeks.  So I bailed on that.  The guy never billed me either – or my insurance.  Strange.  Anyway, option 1 out.

Option 2 was regular massage.  Not just once a month, but at least once a week, and focused on the area that was causing me issue.  Rubbing my legs wasn’t going to help my neck at all, so I told the guy to focus only on shoulder blades and higher and explained to him very clearly what my issues were.  Super nice guy, did great work, and I even added some aromatherapy to the mix (love that stuff) just to put the icing on the cake.  Again, no pain, some immediate improvement, but after a few weeks no real decrease in pain at all.  In fact, things were getting worse.

So bring on the chiropractor!  My wife has been going to one for some time, and always had positive things to say, so nothing better than a referral.  My first visit was the most interesting.  They had a March Madness special – full workup and evaluation for $20.  I’ve blown more than that at Starbucks, so what the heck.

After the standard questionnaire stuff, my chiropractor guy came in to check me out.  He oh-so-gently twisted my neck to see where it hurt and what made it hurt.  And lucky him, he found lots of those.   Then I got on the table for more twisting and turning.  Other than noting that I can do ZERO situps (yikes) and am tight like a drum, no major issues there – YAY.  Then the fun part – an xray.  Figured this would be pretty easy … until he gave me a gown that looked like a small hand towel.  I politely asked if he had anything larger.  His response – “it has fit on people larger than you.”  Hmmmm…didn’t feel good about that.  After feeling a bit violated and having some radiation pumped through me – I got to put my clothes back on.

I figured I was done then – we’d look at the xrays and talk about a plan.  We did that, but since it was the end of the day and they were wrapping up he asked if I wanted my first adjustment.  I figured sure – I was already there and trying it was the only way I was going to find out.  I sat in this chair-like thing (the back folds all the way down) and he got behind me and started poking around my neck – looking for the right spot.   Then he told me to relax and let me head relax into his hands.  Oh boy.  So I complied (reluctantly).  He slowly turned my head/neck a bit – basically getting in position.  Then, of course, when you least expect it, he “adjusts” you.

If you look up the word “adjust” in the chiropractic dictionary, I believe the definition is: “A sudden and violent amount of pressure placed on a relaxed and very vulnerable area” – or something like that.

So the first adjustment hurt like a SOB – I’m not going to lie.  My hands were resting comfortably on my knees and they both jumped up like I wanted to punch someone in the face.   The pain didn’t last long fortunately.  But I didn’t learn my lesson after that one – he told me to relax again, so like an idiot I did.  Same routine – twist, turn, then BAM – time to “adjust”.  Second time my hands jumped again, but not as much.  Still hurt a bunch, but not as much I suppose.  Or maybe it’s like when your arm hurts and someone kicks you in the knee, you forget about the arm pain.  Not sure.

I got my short massage, then he told me to ice it for 20 minutes when I got home, which I dutifully did.  I survived the visit.

My visit today (visit number 2 only) was a simple adjustment, massage, then home to ice and done.  Maybe 30 minutes in the office.  He adjusted the middle of my back, and then on to my neck.  I have to be honest, both adjustments felt pretty good.  Even the neck one.  Not as much pain, and quicker relief.  Hmmm…not so bad.

So Day 1 = Torture.  Day 2 = Not bad.

I have my next appointment Monday and he wants to see me 2-3 times per week for 4 or so weeks.  He alleges that I should notice some significant improvement by then.

So the jury is still out – but if it goes well I’ll be singing his praises for sure.

Stay tuned…

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