Shortly after my evaluation with the chiropractor I returned to receive my diagnosis. I was expecting to hear that I was hopelessly “subluxated” and in need of three years and several thousand dollars worth of chiropractic care.
Because I scheduled my initial appointment at Instructor Appreciation Night, I didn’t need to use the voucher they had handed to me. In fact, they told me, “Go ahead and give it to someone else.” Since my boyfriend is also a fitness instructor (he teaches Body Pump), I thought he might be as interested in a free massage as I was. Not only was he interested in the massage, he was vaguely curious to see what they would tell someone who is healthy and pain-free. When he returned from his followup, he was “prescribed” 19 visits: 3 visits per week for 2-3 weeks, then 2 per week, and gradually tapering to once a week. Even with coverage from his insurance, the copayments would have amounted to over $500. He politely declined.
Now my boyfriend teaches a sensible 2-3 fitness classes a week, works with a trainer, and runs or takes spinning to maintain cardiovascular fitness. He also eats pretty well, goes to bed when he’s tired, and doesn’t stress out about things he cannot control (he even sings around the house). I, on the other hand, teach an excess of classes (13 classes across 6 days), frequently find myself substituting snacks for meals, and often lose sleep or sleep poorly because I worry about falling behind on my grading or choreography. So you can see why I was braced for grim faces and a dire prognosis.
Shockingly enough, the doctor’s treatment plan amounted to 22 visits–only a few more than my super-healthy boyfriend was recommended! Here’s the plan I was given: 3x per week for 2 weeks, then 2x per week for 6 weeks, then once a week for 4 weeks = $770 (at a $35 copay rate). They offered me a 20% discount if I committed to the entire package, but that still would have amounted to $616 over 12 weeks. This prescription was based on the questionnaire, weight balance test, a postural analysis based on a photo (I was wearing wedge sandals), and the doctor’s hands-on examination of my spine. From the top down she felt I suffered from the following:
- decreased range of motion in all my cervical vertebrae
- swelling and inflammation in mid and lower neck
- tension in the muscles from T5 on up
- T9 “jammed up” and she described the right side of my thoracic spine as “ropey”
- knots were noted in my lumbar area
- decreased range of motion around L4, especially on the right side
- tension in the hip area, and my sacrolliac joint was out of balance and rotated
In all honesty, none of this really surprised me, but I was mildly impressed that all her trouble spots matched what I actually felt in my own body. I have long felt that my neck was far stiffer than it was during the head-throwing jazz-dancing days of my youth. I also frequently feel that the supposedly fixed bones of my sacrum are not so much fused as jammed on top of one another, especially on my right side. Not wanting to commit to over $600 worth of treatment about which I was still somewhat skeptical, and also not being able to fit probably more than one visit a week into my busy schedule, I decided to try weekly treatments (which include a 30 minute massage) for 4-6 weeks and see how I felt.
It’s been about 6 weeks since my experiment began. I missed a few weeks due to other commitments, but so I’ve had 4 sessions so far. I’ve noticed that I feel somewhat light-headed whenever I leave the office. The chiropractor said this is due to sudden, unimpeded blood flow to my head after getting adjusted. I kind of figured it was due to the massage, but many people seem to have the same reaction (based on a quick online search of “chiropractic adjustment light headed”). After each appointment I really do feel great, especially my neck. I’ve noticed that the “cracking” noises have become less loud and feel less “violent” than during the first visit (where it took two tries to get one side of my neck to release). It’s also possible that the range of motion in my neck is increasing or returning to where it ought to be. Is it the adjustments? the massage? the combination? I can’t say for sure, but I’m feeling pleased enough with the results that I plan to continue for a few more sessions. As with the original treatment plan, I’m now tapering to once every other week. Stay tuned and see if my neck returns to its old creaky ways.