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Is A Chiropractor Good For Sports Injuries*?

Posted Nov 23 2010 10:05pm

Somersaults gave me my first official magic power: I have a built-in snow-scraper thanks to my pinkie and ring fingers on my right hand being almost completely numb! Who needs hot pads or full gloves or thimbles when your fingers are devoid of feeling? (Okay, be honest - who ever needs thimbles these days anyhow?) I'm like Wolverine, the soccer mom edition! Or maybe Edward Scissorhands, the toddler edition (you know, no sharp objects)!

This would be super-cool except for the fact that along with my impervious fingers, I also happen to be in A LOT OF PAIN. These new fingers are a pain in my neck, literally.

Picture this: a day on the stretching mats, post-sweat fest chatting with the Gym Buddies and pounding our awful protein shakes (Gym Buddy Jeni still insists on mixing her powder with lukewarm water from the drinking fountain and then slamming it in 30 miserable seconds) when suddenly I am seized by a great idea. This, of course, happens to me often. It's one of the great things about having zero common sense - everything seems brilliant in the moment. Let's do somersaults! In my post on foam rolling, Reader Naomi/Dragonmama suggested I try a little head-over-heels action to ward off back pain. (Disclaimer: What happens next is in no way her fault.)

Seeing as I used to do 30 back handsprings in a row, I figured a few measly preschooler moves would be a fun diversion and have the added bonus of frightening random people around me as I barreled at them with no warning. And the first few were fun! Until - and I'm still not sure how this happened - I landed heavily on my neck before rolling forward. Gym Buddies Allison and Daria gasped and asked if I was okay which I answered with a glib "Of course!" and a backwards somersault to prove it to them.

I was okay all the way to my car and then suddenly it was as if someone had stuck an electric cattle prod into the right side of my neck. Pain shot up into my skull and down the right side of my back. I would have howled except I couldn't breathe. Tweety birds and stars nothing, I saw a light at the end of a tunnel - except I couldn't turn my head to look at it.

After the initial burst subsided and I managed to get everyone home in one piece, I got in a hot shower and tried to massage it out - quite the yogic feat when you consider the main hot spot was right in the middle of my upper back next to my right shoulder blade, a.k.a. the Hardest Spot on Your Body to Reach. Having read somewhere that laying down and immobilizing back/neck pain is really bad and actually makes it worse, I stayed on my feet all day and went about my daily routine. It got a lot better! By bedtime I could turn my head with minimal pain and my upper back was no longer trying to claw its way out of my skin.

But when I woke up my right fingers were numb and tingly. Whoops.

Hardly ever getting sick and rarely injured, I don't have a general doc. In fact, the only doctor I have is my OBGYN and I'm pretty sure that perineal massage is not the type of massage I was going to need for this one. So I polled the Gym Buddies - who all love their chiropractors so much they've verbed the word, as in "Did you chiro today?" - and they told me to get to a chiropractor stat. Good plan! Except. I have had a life-long fear of chiropractors. Just like I have never before had occasion to confront my deepest fear of being trapped in an underwater cave, so have I never had need to step foot in a chiropractor's office.

Plus I was starting to enjoy the tingly numbness now creeping up the side of my right arm! And... that's what made me realize I had to go. Now. So I made the appointment and showed up today begging for relief. How was it? We got off to a rocky start when they insisted I watch an informational video about chiropractic. I had to close my eyes every time they showed someone getting their neck "adjusted" (read: jerked off the base of their skull, Predator style). But it got better when I met the doctor. She was super nice and explained everything in great detail, which I love. She insisted on taking full x-rays first to make sure I hadn't actually cracked my spine with my monkey antics. I appreciated that bit of caution. All was kosher except for a rotated vertebra that was putting pressure on the nerve to my right arm.

And then - dun, dun, dun! - adjustment time! I lay face down on the table and prepared myself to become a quadriplegic when... nothing happened. She said she couldn't do the adjustment because my muscles were still spasming so much. So instead she gave me some kind of ultrasound treatment that felt like nothing at all and I didn't even get any blurry take-home pictures of my baby muscle knot to put on Facebook. (Maybe I should have gone to my OB after all!)

My prescription is to ice my shoulder on an off this evening - which I haven't done because it's freezing here and I'm already cold all the time so I can't think of anything I'd rather do less than stick ice down my shirt - and report back tomorrow, hopefully less spastic.

I'm on the fence about this chiro thing as I'm two and half hours into this and still every bit as much in pain and numbness as I was yesterday but I'm willing to give it a go tomorrow and see what happens.

Interesting tidbit: During the exam she asked me if I have a lot of cramps during that time of the month to which I answered, "Does Perez Hilton need a new hair color? ALWAYS." She said that some vertebrae in my lower back were severely out of alignment (I blame my children) and that lots of her female patients found marked improvement in cramps after having that spot fixed. I say go for it - we're already messing with my spine so let's just get the whole thing tuned up.

What do you think about chiropractors? Do you have one or are you irrationally terrified of them like me? Have they helped you fix anything wacky like cramps? When's the last time you tried a somersault?

*I can totally call a botched somersault a sports injury, right?

I can't decide what I love more: watching a pitbull in panties do a somersault or the fact that he has to stop to lick his junk in between rolls. That's the part I was missing!

Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2010. Thanks for reading!
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