I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked about it on Compass & Quill, but I’ve been suffering from hip and lower back pain for over two years now. It started soon after I ran the Chicago Marathon in October of 2009, ending that insane race with general pain everywhere in my body, but especially in my knees and hips in relation to tight IT bands. I worked through that issue with lots of stretching and using a foam roller, then with Bikram, but a few months later while trying on a dress for Bestie’s wedding, I threw my back out. In the rest room at work. When I definitely wasn’t supposed to be taking a break to try on a dress. When my doctor was a 45 minute trek across Chicago via foot & public trans, in March (read: ice, slush, wearing 20 extra pounds of coat and snow boots). It was a NIGHTMARE.
For almost a week I could barely walk, couldn’t stand up straight, bend over any farther than I was already locked in, or lay down without considerable pain. It sucked, but eventually it healed and I got back to daily life. From that point on, though, I had daily back and hip pain. I went to several doctors, and every one told me the same thing – it would go away with stretching, pain killers and muscle relaxers. You guys know me well enough by now to know that I didn’t find that combination to be much of a solution. I kept stretching, but avoided the meds after a week on both only led to me sleeping a lot and not getting any better. I got deep tissue massages, went to Bikram, worked on my posture, and though everything helped a little, nothing was solving my problem. Two months ago, I discovered Tylenol PM, and have been taking them at least once a week to get more than a couple of hours sleep at a time. It’s not the best idea, but I was running out of ideas for how to deal with something that was essentially crippling my life as well as my body.
One day last week, like usual, everything I did hurt, except that the pain was more of a stabbing sensation than a dull ache. Riding my bike to work: pain. Sitting at my desk: pain. Standing up to go to the water cooler: pain. Walking around the block to limber up: pain. Bikram: more pain. Trying to go to sleep: impossible, the pain was even worse. By midway through the day I was close to tears, and by the second hour of no sleep later that night, I was sobbing. It was time to take action. The next morning I found a chiropractor and made an appointment for this morning. Why did I wait so long???
Today I met with Dr. Andy Abele of Velocity Sports Chiropractic at his office in uptown New Orleans. I had filled out new patient forms prior to arriving, and when I came in we spent a few minutes going over all the details of my pain levels, locations, when everything had started, and what I was hoping to get out of treatment. My request was simple – make it less painful to run, walk, bike, do yoga, get frisky with The Man, and help me get a better night’s sleep. I really didn’t care if all the pain went away; I just wanted some of it to disappear, enough to not feel like taking pain killers was a better option than living a semi-normal life.
He had me lay down on a table that looked a little like a massage table, but much lower to the ground, and with hand grips under the head rest. I held the hand grips while he worked his hands down my back, looking for things that were out of alignment. My T1 and T2 were out of alignment, and he worked with those and cracked that part of my back. It felt amazing, then all of a sudden the pain in my hips increased. He then worked out some other things lower in my back, and each time, the pain increased in my hips and lower back. I was starting to worry, but also be intrigued that obviously something was getting worked out. He had me turn over, then took a look at the length of my legs. Letting out a whistle, he announced that my right leg was almost an inch shorter than my left – indicating that my hips were out of alignment, which was where most of the pain was coming from.
He had me turn over on each side, and worked with my hips and legs there a bit, then had me lay down on my back, grasped my right leg and gave it a firm tug. There was a loud, deep “POP!” and I instinctively let out a little yelp, then a huge sigh of relief – the pain of over two years was cut in half almost immediately. Suddenly the stabbing, burning sensation was gone, leaving only a muscle ache – two perceptively different types of pain. I was able to sit up without pushing myself up with my hands, and was able to stand up without having to put my hands to my thighs for leverage/support. Walking out of the chiropractor’s office, I didn’t have a stab of pain with each step, and I felt taller. Later in the day I realized that I’ve been hunching over/leaning forward for the last year, and today I was standing straight for the first time in a long time. As the day progressed, my back hurt less and less. It’s still sore, but much less so. My follow-up appointment is on Monday, and I’m hoping that with a few more sessions, I’ll be a normal 30 year old with a healthy back and hips!