In August of 2012 I went to the chiropractor for the first time, after being referred by my Bradley Method teacher. She told me it would help prepare my body for labor by getting my pelvis into proper alignment. Plus, I was having some issues with my leg going numb while running and I wanted to see if he could help me. I was willing to give it a shot, because I am not someone who likes taking medicine and prefers to handle things in a more natural, holistic way. This is part of the reason why I wanted a natural birth and why I rarely take medication. What started as one initial evaluation and adjustment turned into many, many more. I now see my chiropractor every other week and my body has never felt better thanks to him.
The philosophy behind chiropractic care is healing and wellness from the inside out, and the idea that the body is a self-healing mechanism. Many health problems and symptoms that people have can be tracked back to one of the 24 vertebrates in the spine that is misaligned, since they control most of the body’s functions. By fixing those misalignments and “turning the power back on to your nervous system” as one of my chiropractors says, those pains and issues can be healed and symptoms will disappear. In the chart below, you can see how the vertebrates and their nerves are connected to different body parts and the possible symptoms that could be experienced.
“Chiropractic uses a hands-on method called an adjustment. A chiropractic adjustment is the use of a specific amount of force in a precise direction applied to the vertebra in the spine that is causing nerve interference. Adjustments help to return the bone to its normal position, thus relieving tension and pressure from the nerves . Chiropractic adjustments are extremely safe and effective.” [Source]
Beyond just the health of your spine, my chiropractor is really interested in all the aspects of ‘total’ health: physical, emotional, nutrition, home exercises, etc. My chiropractor even sent me a handwritten note last year when he was concerned about how stressed I was after going back to a stressful teaching job after maternity leave, and dealing with a lot of other personal issues. Talk about a doctor who cares about his patients!
Here are some of the ways that I (and baby Kevin too!) have benefitted from chiropractic care.
Running during pregnancy. I originally went to the chiropractor around 32 weeks pregnant, because my right leg would go numb and tingly while I was running. I was worried that my running days were numbered, so I went to the chiropractor for help. We discovered that since the baby was positioned on my right side, I was out of alignment in my lower back (which controls the legs), and the nerve was getting entrapped on my right side. This was made even worse by the support belt I was wearing. He adjusted me and suggested that I stop wearing the belt, to allow my body to move naturally rather than forcing it another way. Once I started doing that and was adjusted a few times the numbness went away. I was able to run until the end of my pregnancy, and even on the day my water broke!
Getting my body prepared for labor. One of the reasons my Bradley Method teacher and doula recommended a chiropractor was to get my body prepared for birth. Since I really wanted a drug-free birth, it was very important to me to set myself up for success as much as possible. Part of that meant pelvic balance and alignment, to create the most space possible for the baby to come through. Plus it also helped to relieve some of the aches in my back that came along with hauling 25 extra pounds on the front of my body. I actually felt great the last couple of months of my pregnancy and I really attribute that to being able to stay active and getting adjusted weekly. I also went on to have the natural birth that I wanted.
Helping with post-partum recovery. After all my body went through during labor, I couldn’t wait to get back to the chiropractor after delivery. I went in a few days after birth, and I truly feel like he helped put my body back together again. With each adjustment I felt more like my old self, especially after I got back into running at 4 weeks post-partum. He also helped my neck and shoulders, since I was hunched over nursing most of the hours of the day and night.
Baby’s reflux. We struggled a lot with Kevin’s acid reflux in the first couple of months. He would choke, gasp, spit-up and cry and cry and cry. It was clear that he was very uncomfortable. We put him on Zantac and it didn’t help, and I was desperate for a better solution. When he was around 8 weeks old we brought him to the chiropractor. My chiropractor has a lot of experience working with infants and had been able to help babies with reflux through chiropractic adjustments. He evaluated Kevin and found two areas where he was out of alignment, in his neck and his pelvis. The area on his neck is actually the spot that controls the esophagus and the stomach, so it made sense. He gave him two very gentle adjustments by just pressing and massaging these areas, and things were better almost right away. He went back for two more adjustments after that and has not had any reflux symptoms since.
Knee injury. I have fallen twice in the last year while running. Both times I landed hardest on my left knee. The first time it happened was about a year ago, and thanks to some rest and chiropractic knee adjustments (painful- but effective) my knee pain went away… until I fell again this past August. It came back even worse than before. I had the chiropractor exam it and he told me my kneecap was out of place and not tracking correctly. It was actually causing friction between my patella (kneecap) and my tibia (shinbone)… no wonder it hurt so badly to run! He put it back into place and ordered me to do a lot of exercises at home including strengthening and foam rolling. With that and another adjustment, it is finally feeling good again (knock on wood!).
Wrist injury. After Kevin was born I started having a weird new symptom in my right wrist. I don’t know if it was from holding and nursing him all the time mostly on that side (my left side never produced much milk), but I started to feel painful snapping and popping in it when I moved it in certain ways. It started to really bother me so I asked the chiropractor about it one day. He adjusted it and told me he thought it was actually stemming from my neck and shoulder so he adjusted those too. I have had to have it adjusted every so often since then, but each time he does it the pain and the popping goes away. He also gave me some strengthening exercises like opening and closing my hand with a rubber band around it, so help restore the full range of motion. It has definitely helped!
I know there are a lot of believers and non-believers of chiropractic care, but based on my own experiences I have become a believer. The only drawback can be the cost, as some insurance plans do not accept it. My chiropractor understands that though and is willing to create a plan that is affordable and works for us. And for me, it is worth the money to invest in my long-term health and wellness.
Have you ever seen a chiropractor? How has chiropractic care helped you? If you have never been, would you be open to it?