My Disc Herniation Story

The chiropractor with the bad back.  Ironic isn’t it?  But that’s me.  As with most of my patients, I can trace my back problems back to my childhood.  I can remember even as a kid working on a farm in Iowa, having back pain that made it difficult to walk upright for up to a week.  But the major problems started when as a young, admittedly hot-headed, 20 something I tried to force a full sized box spring up a stairwell it wasn’t going to fit up.

I eventually got over that pain. It took awhile, but I was blessed by some great fellow student chiropractors that helped me get back to a pain-free state.

I even started to run half marathons, grow my chiropractic practice, and live a life free of low back. That is until about 3 or 4 years ago. I think that the combination of running and having ergonomically poor (for me) adjusting techniques finally caught up with me. This time, the pain was excruciating and went all the way down my leg into my right foot. I lost feeling in my right foot. I couldn’t do anything except lay flat on my back. It was awful. This is what my MRI looked like (hint the culprit is at the bottom disc between L5 and S1):

As bad as things got I did manage to recover without surgery.  I am not totally against surgery, but it should be done as a last resort.  (See this article for some information about back surgeries.)  Here are the top four things I did that helped me get over my disc herniations without surgery.

1.  Chiropractic.  This is the single most important thing you can do for a low back disc herniation.  We aren’t trying to “pop” the disc back in.  What we are trying to do is make sure that the alignment of the bones and joints and movement (function) of the joints is the best that it can be.  Adjustments help the body more efficiently heal the disc.  Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and chiropractic is essential in promoting disc healing

2.  Have patience.  Healing a disc naturally with chiropractic care takes time.  I was off work for two months.  (That is partly because chiropractic is a very physically demanding job.)  I was on pain medications longer.  There was honestly times that I felt like giving up.  But I am so glad I didn’t.  I am pain-free without surgery and have resumed almost all of my daily activities.

3.  Know your limits.  You know that old saying “Doctors make the worst patients.”  Well, that is true for me.  Instead of working my way back to a full schedule I went back and saw 30 patients my first day back.  The next day I was back to square one.  So know your limits and listen to your doctor.  I also have not been able to return to running.  It is just too much pounding on my spine.

4.  Work with someone that works well with others.  As much as I would like to tell you that chiropractic is the only thing that you need to heal disc herniations (it often is) that wasn’t the case for me.  I also utilized pain medications, traction, and cortisone injections.  We did before, but more so now, work with other healthcare professionals for the good of the patient.  If your provider won’t co-mange with others you may need to find another provider.

If you or someone you know suffers from disc herniations, please share this article with them.  If you live in the Mankato area, click the contact us button at the top of the page and schedule a consultation with Dr. Shawn.