Unknown old injuries discovered by chiropractor
- 12-20-2008, 05:01 AM
Unknown old injuries discovered by chiropractor
The title is a nice summary of what I've been through the past two weeks.
I don't belong to any other forums where I think this would have a good audience, so I thought I would bring it to the widely-experienced AM crowd for comment.
A couple months ago, I sought a chiropractor to deal with some occasional shoulder and neck pain I was having. I did my research and picked whom I believe to be the best in my area, a graduate of Life Chiropractic College West.
We had a couple office consultations, he x-rayed the area I was having pain in, and sure enough found that I had some relatively minor problems which he thought chiropractic care could relieve. I began going for adjustments every few days, with immediate noticeable improvement in my range of motion, and much less pain.
Last week he started doing deep tissue work on me, kind of like deep tissue massage while having me move my arm and neck in all kinds of positions. The doctor stopped at one point and started poking my shoulder and upper arm, asking if it hurt, I replied no. He made a remark about lots of scar tissue, which was a shock to me. I never knew I had a reason to have scar tissue in those areas, and the doc guessed it was from past injuries that never healed properly. Not only have I done a lot of weightlifting much of my life, but I did some things in the Army that I had heard could lead to disability and back problems later in life if one were to do them too frequently. I know my former First Sergeant, now retired and in his early 50s, looks perfectly normal but is technically disabled from injuries happening over the span of his career doing strenuous training. The doctor thinks all of this could be to blame and he says he can help me.
Now, my excellent health insurance pays for all this, so money is not an issue. Should I take this guy's word for it, or is this the kind of thing I should see some kind of specialist about? I am thinking a sports injury doctor or getting a physical therapy assessment. I want to heal now while I am still relatively young. I no longer serve in a demanding Army unit, I'm just a weekend warrior now, and I have not been training hard since the summertime, however the doc has advised me to take it easy until I heal more.
I am just looking for suggestions, or to hear from anyone else who had a similar "surprise" injury found.
- 12-20-2008, 10:05 AM
I doubt you'd get as much from a PT without having been set by an MD.
Remember that DCs are trained in hard-tissue articulation diagnosis & correction - your guy may not be ignorant of soft-tissue conditions and corrective treatment, but he's almost certainly untrained in any of them, either. His use of the term "scar tissue" while palpating your back points to a shortage of training in soft-tissue dysfunction.
Unfortunately, it's hard to know who to refer you to: while DOs (osteopaths) have done a fairly good job of 'working the same waters' as chiropractic, western (science-based) medicine is not as good with plastic structures like the musculature as more traditionally-based, hands-on approaches. The picture is complicated by the fact that massage therapies and physical therapy have been engaged in border skirmishes for years, each trying to poach on the other's preserve, and the war between the insurance cos & chiropractors has made things harder (*ahem*) in soft-tissue realms.
That said, Life Chiro is known for providing excellent training, and I'm not trying to throw darts at this guy. Even so, the best possible recommendation I could make would be to let me evaluate you in person. Impractical for many reasons - primarily, the expense of travel & the fact that I'm still jumping through license hoops (in spite of more than 40 years experience & training). And since I've not had the chance to train anyone in the skills /techniques I've developed, I can't even refer you to one of my people.
Which leaves us with this: try and find a sports massage therapist in your area who is certified in neuro-muscular (trigger-point) therapy; get a session & an evaluation. Your DC may have someone he/she works with - and there are advantages to that - but there are also advantages to getting an outside view.
Hope this helps (at least a little) - I'll be happy to answer any questions.
12-20-2008, 12:14 PM
I ramble when I'm sleepy: yes, it IS POSSIBLE to suffer injuries that do not show themselves for years; these rarely result in scar tissue, however, due to the nature of such injuries.
I can go into more specific detail if you care....
12-20-2008, 04:30 PM
Some swear by Chiros, and others think they are worthless. You can get short term relief from one, but nothing long term. They typically deal specifically with soft tissue injuries. If you ever had an x-ray that was positive for a fracture or slipped disc, you would be referred to an MD immediately, if you hadn't already done so due to the extreme pain.
I think it is obnoxious what chiro's do to people with sprains. You sprain your ankle, and you keep weight off of it and stabilize it so it has a chance to heal. But if you sprain your neck muscles, your supposed to have it manipulated?
Your joints and especially the spine degrades in everyone as you age. If you have scar tissue, the chiro will not be able to remove it. He will likely put you on a long treatment plan to treat pain symptoms rather than the problem.
I would be willing to bet that anyone could walk into any chiropractic office and they will find a "surprise" injury.
12-20-2008, 09:56 PM
There are chiropractors who are willing to sacrifice long-term results in order to acquire another cash-cow. They are not the only chiropractors, or the majority of chiropractors, and you can't extrapolate from them to chiropractic as a whole.
Addressing soft-tissue concerns - such as muscles - is specifically outside chiropractic's scope of practice. It is not chiropractic. Consequently, there are no chiropractic treatments for sprains beyond normal first-aid. Doing as you suggest would leave a DC liable to assault charges - or at least malpractice.
12-22-2008, 08:19 AM
Thanks for the responses guys.
Bodywizard-- outstanding insight into both the profession and my situation, thanks a million! Yes the doctor did suddenly start talking about scar tissue as he was feeling the motion of my shoulder during a stretch. I have had massages before, however no previous chiropractic work, and never had anyone mentioned signs of injury or scar tissue.
As I hope I made clear above, it would not surprise me in the least if I have some underlying injuries stemming from military service and weightlifting. The greatest question for me, then, is obtaining a correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment from a properly-qualified doctor. I would take you up on your offer, but I am up here in the Canadian border and not doing any leisure traveling any time soon. Though I do visit VA Beach quite often, and love the long drive.
I do not think that chiropractic overall is a "quack" practice, and while I am thankful for the doctor for pointing out what may indeed be a past injury, I plan on seeing what reputable doctors in my area might be more qualified to examine me in regards to possible old, untreated injuries.
12-22-2008, 09:36 AM
"Injury" where the musculature is concerned - that is, the sort of injury that can be palpated (as your chiro did) - manifests as a phenomenon called variously 'splinting' and 'ligamentation' (they're related, but NOT identical). What happens is that the body attempts to protect an injury site by hardening the muscle tissues around the injury site, in an effort to protect the injured tissues from further damage. Left untreated, the tissues tend to remain in that configuration. An individual who's suffered this kind of injury may well feel he's healed normally - but may never regain full range-of-motion, and may have a nearly-invisible change in posture or normal movement that grows more noticeable over time.
Sources of this sort of injury include blows, falls, severe overuse; it's the same mechanism that causes a wrenched neck or shoulder to stiffen up, and while a return to normal activity can as I say reclaim much of the original flexibility, there will always be *some* loss or normal text & normal function. Since an active life causes us to accumulate a considerable number of these "tissue insults" over time, they are easy to shrug off & ignore, until age and re-injury make us feel like pain-infested cripples (exaggerating slightly for clarity) - not at all unlike your sergeant.
Injuries of this type are common, but most common among persons with physically demanding lifestyles - athletes, laborers, firefighters, martial artists. etc. The fact that they're often "invisible" (no blood, no broken bone, no bruising) encourages the typical lack of treatment, and the resultant slow-motion accumulation that tends to really hit us hard between 35 & 55 (yes, as endogenous test & GH decline).
The good news (and it IS very good news) is that this damage can be reduced, even years after the fact, by a capable and experienced bodyworker. If you're up near the Canadian/New York border, you might check out resources in the Ithaca area (Finger Lakes). If you're a gym member, you might ask around your club & see who's helped others, or who the club might have on tap as a resource.
Unfortunately, I won't be traveling up your way soon, either: I'm in the middle of coming-out-of-retirement, and have neither the time nor the cash for Christmas, much less any travel, while I re-establish my practice & build my training business.
Anyhow, hope you don't mind the extra detail. Keep us posted on how youer 'doing & how your recovery progresses!
12-23-2008, 09:56 PM
I feel for you, I have an accumulation of scar tissue around my spine due to scoliosis. However I have no pain from it or issues lifting.
12-24-2008, 01:16 AM
fuk chiros, if it aint broke dont fix it, my spine has loose joints in after going to one of them, iif you have probs with your back go to a osteopath or a massage clinic a proper one.
dont fuk with your spine unless you have real problems
01-03-2009, 12:03 PM
Thanks for all of your replies folks. I have to catch up on a zillion messages as I've been gone for the past week.
Mr. Wizard I do appreciate the detailed information, it is valuable to someone like me with limited understanding of injuries.
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