Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Chiropractor Chronicles

It's no secret to those of you who know me on facebook that I've been rather obsessed with chiropractic lately. I started with a new guy in Lacey back in September. He is very meticulous and has a holistic approach to his technique. He's very interested in healing, has a strong belief in the body's own powerful immune system, and is even a "quack" in some ways. :)

I started out with some detailed X-rays, a scan, and all the accouterments that chiropractic uses to help start out a new patient. I measure somewhat "low-but surviving" health-wise. No surprise. I have fibromyalgia, which is nerve pain due to (basically) unknown causes.

This guy's specialty is in an instrument that very precisely adjusts the atlas, which is the doughnut-shaped bone at the base of your skull that surrounds and shields the brain stem, while allowing flexibility and full rotation of the neck. It makes a lot of sense that when this particular bone is out of line, that pressure on the brain stem can cause weird things in your nervous system, and potentially through out your body. Having Fibromyalgia, this sounded like a good adjustment to get.

Well, my journey through healing with these treatments has been phenomenal. Weird, in a way. But totally phenomenal. After my first few adjustments of the atlas, I began to feel a tingling in my ear and right side of my neck. Following this, I had the unquenchable desire to hold my right shoulder up. I'd squeeze it, lift it to my ear, and 5 weeks into treatments, I had overwhelmingly decided it was so injured  (from what, I don't know...probably playing piano for 28 years, not to mention carrying children around for the last 6) it needed to be wrapped up in a cast. It felt over-used, stretched, wounded. I had done nothing to it recently, I just was able to actually FEEL it after the brain stem was working uninhibitedly. A visit to the massage therapist revealed that, indeed, not only was the right shoulder in bad over-used disrepair, but the left shoulder was locked up in a frozen state.

This sounded off to me, as I'd always considered my left shoulder/arm to be in better shape. It was solid, I thought, rock hard. The right arm was in worse shape. Because I use it more, of course!


Well, in the sense that a rock was unmovable, I was right about the left arm. I began working to loosen it up, while babying the right shoulder. I would use my left arm to vacuum and carry my purse on the left rather than the right. With all this attention, gradually the left shoulder began to come awake. A series of simple yoga positions, particularly "child's pose"
Child's Pose
gave me this incredibly unexpected twitching, vibrating sensation in my left arm. The muscles went crazy!  Not only that, but for 1 week, now, I have had a 6 inch span of my left bicep completely numb. I can poke a pin in it and not feel it.

I continue to get my atlas adjusted. Week by week, I've had symptom after symptom relieved. Yeast infections have completely disappeared, I got over a bad cold in 4 days, while it took Ben 3 weeks to recover (without chiropractic care). I've had a total recession of the asthma that introduced itself last summer. There are very few bouts with fibromyalgia pain. Menstrual cycles are regular without any medications or other interventions.

Most amazing is the disappearance of what I thought was cystic acne all over my back. I've had "cystic acne" treated on my back for 5 years. I've actually HAD it all my life. Only treated it since I had healthcare in the military. Nothing has worked. Once, I brought it up to my chiro (another guy--not the current one). "It's weird," I said, "how the cysts only appear over spots that feel like I need to press on them because of muscle pain. Or nerve pain from a subluxation." "Huh." was his response. "I've never seen that before."

This new guy looked at the spots and said, "I used to have those. They're aggravated nerve endings from subluxations. they're called dermatomes."

They all disappeared after 6 weeks of atlas adjustments. Sometimes they return over a spot that has a subluxation. Like in my left shoulder right now. They're clustered all over the left side of my shoulder and back of neck area, like alarm buttons saying, "HERE!! Fix this spot!"

Back to my left arm. This last week has revealed something amazing and SCARY. After a few days of the child's pose stretches, a muscle group was awakened....the muscle that goes directly over my shoulder blade, which you'd use to do "chicken dance" or something like that....I found they were PARALYZED. No joke, here people. Now that my neck muscles are no longer compensating for the frozen muscle, I can feel that it is paralyzed! Whereas a normal person could "flap" his "chicken wings" Up and down, I try to bring my left elbow up......and I try and try and try, and the little muscles over my left shoulder blade just wobble and go all floppy and my arm drops down useless. It is the STRANGEST feeling to have--first of all--any feeling there at all. I did not even know it had gone so numb. Secondly, to out-of-the-blue have a paralyzed shoulder!!!!

I am going to have a physical exam next week, during which I hope to get a thorough evaluation of all this, but also to hopefully get assigned a physical therapist who can work me through some of this repair work.

Chiropractic has really ways I could NOT have predicted I needed helping. I had no idea my neck was taking over for a paralyzed shoulder muscle. But it happens.....the body is very good at adapting to abuse. 28 years of playing piano has taken its toll on these shoulders. I knew I was in pain, but I didn't know why. Now, I have a brain stem that's out from under pressure, and it's reminding me where I went wrong, and uncovering terrible mistakes I made in the past. If I hadn't figured it out at age 32, I might be seeing some pretty acute degeneration by age 40 or 50.

Visit your local atlas-adjusting chiropractor, people. Your old-aged self will thank you.


  1. I had the same experience of realizing that certain muscle groups were "paralyzed". It wasn't permanent, obviously, but rather discovering, once the over-compensating muscles were returned to a relaxed state, that an entire other muscle group was severely atrophied due to disuse. I was fortunate enough to have Egoscue's exercises do the trick for me (as far as I know they seem to be solving my problems). Chiropractic care around here is EX. PEN. SIVE.

    1. Such good news, Susi! Your info is exactly in accord with Egoscue's. I'm sure the atlas adjustments started everything off with a bang. Eventually you should be able to do without them, he says, avoiding that huge expense. I don't know about that, though. I found myself needing our new-found chiropractor after a big muscle pull, breaking sticks in half for the stove a few weeks ago. So I don't think I'm ready to drop it altogether. My atlas and I need to be on good terms constantly, or I'm not very happy.