Chiropractors/Neck and lower back issues

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In 2004, I started experiencing some tingling and numbness in my left leg. My PCP at the time recommended that I have an MRI, which confirmed some degenerative endplate issues with my L4-5 (bulging disk, etc.). This was a contributing factor to the numbness and pain in my thigh and lower back area.  Physical therapy was recommended, which worked but I wasnít able to keep up with the treatments due to cost and time restraints of my job.  I also started to feel better and didnít feel I needed any more therapy.  Back in 2008, I started having some issues with neck stiffness, along with the returning numbness in my leg and left hip.  A co-worker referred me to a DC who told me that I had a reverse cure in my neck along with the earlier diagnosed L4-5 problems, and some bone loss in my back.  I started treatments for a few months and it seemed to work but in one of my sessions, she did something that caused me great pain, which seemed to hit something internally in my back but not in the spine area.  That pain lasted 3 weeks, which concerned me.  It got so severe that I had to be hospitalized.  The diagnoses was a bruised adrenal gland (ER Doctor said such bruising is usually seen with individuals who were in a car accident or injured while paying some kind of contact sports), which Iíd done neither.  I tried to reach out to the DC I had been going to, who abruptly closed her business and referred all patients to another local DC.  Since then I have been very cautious about going back to a DC.  However, for the past 2 years Iíve had stiffness in my neck, I can hear popping in my neck when I turn my head or while walking (sounds like bone-on-bone).  Now, I have difficulty turning my head fully to the right (can turn to the left but not the right), and the bones in my neck (spinal column) are protruding - You can now see and feel the reverse curve in my neck and the numbness is in both legs.  My new PCP is not comfortable with me going to a Chiropractor Ė She feels that itís too risky when it comes to the neck and spine.  I too am quite concern about having someone pop, pull, twist, etc. on my neck but Iím also concern that, should I not take care of this now it can cause me even greater issues as I get older (Iím 53).   Your recommendations/suggestions are greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Answer
Hi Elsa,

Wow!  A bruised adrenal gland?   All I can think of is that she had you on your belly and pushed very hard on the spine segments that lay over your kidneys.  Maybe she used a "drop piece" on the treatment table that popped up and clunked down; this adds to the force and can be straining if performed on the part of the spine near your kidneys (if you recall).   Regardless, chiropractic care is likely the safest form of healthcare we have.   Look at all the care you had without any negative consequences - like it is for most everyone every time.    Thus, what you experienced is not typical.    Your MD/PCP should be more concerned about the dangers of pharmaceuticals, even over the counter meds, which clearly kills people ever year (something like 200,000 people die annually in the USA from prescription meds).  You can't die from bruised adrenal glands.  Okay.  I think I made my point here...      You deserve to get the best care and the right care.   There is no way any DC or anyone else is going to reverse your neck curve.   It is what it is: degenerated.    It likely will get worse with time, and it will make all kinds of sounds, from sand to gravel to popping.   The best you can do is to exercise all the muscles on your back-side, including your neck and the muscles between your shoulders.   An experienced fitness trainer at the gym is your best bet!    Also, manual therapy by a DC would be a really good idea.   I would find a DC who will not pound on your adrenals   ;D    There are so many different methods a skilled DC has at their disposal.    You need to find a DC who is "multimodal" in nature, offering a variety of procedures:   manual neck tractioning, soft tissue therapies such as Graston Technique, exercise therapy, FAKTR, therapeutic ultrasound, ergonomic advice, nutritional advice...    Not just popping and twisting!    I'll bet you that if your new DC sits you up, applies therapeutic ultrasound for a few minutes, then has you turn your head back and forth to the right while applying resistance (e.g. a theraband or even from your hand against your head) while at the same time performing Graston Technique, you will be able to turn your head to the right.  I would presume that if they did some manual tractioning and deep massage as prep' for the techniques I described above, there would be a chance you'd walk out of the office with your neck motion restored.    I made no mention of popping or twisting...     Pass this on to your PCP so she can be more educated about what's out there.    

I hope this was helpful.

Dr. G'  

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Scott F. Gillman, DC, DACBSP

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21 Years in practice: I can answer any question regarding chiropractic and sports medicine treatment. Mostly, I can help the unknowing public understand what is safe, valid, reasonable and evidence-based, and what kinds of unscrupulous chiropractors and fraudulent methods to stay away from. I have an advanced specialty degree in Chiropractic Sports Medicine. I have experience treating elite and Olympic athletes.

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