As I write this I realize that this could also be called herniated disc treatment or degenerated disc treatment or for that matter a really bad back treatment….. Even why you shouldn’t wait to have your back treated.
This is My Story
Some of you may or may not know about my situation, or may not know why we do what we do at the Illinois back institute. But the truth of all this is, I had severe back pain that was ruining my life, and I needed to find a way out. So this blog post is designed to shed light on what we do and why we do it. We only do what we do as a result of what happened to me. There is a reason for every step and when you understand why you are more likely to understand back pain, and this helps you to also completely eliminate your pains.
- It is my belief that even the worst back pain will improve with our techniques.
I struggled for years with pain that was a result of a college stunt that occurred when I was a student at Indiana University. When my pain was at its worst my pain was a 10 and I had numbness and weakness in my legs. The pain got so bad that everything I did in life was a challenge, life was hard to live.
This is my story and this is the story of why. It’s going to be long because I have been at this for more than 20 years and every day I learn something new. I have learned from professionals and my patients and most importantly from my own experience of pain. I will break this down into 10 to 15 segments and try to follow the time line of how I developed my ideas and solutions. I do know when I am done you will understand back pain better than even your own General Practitioner.
The most important point of this blog is for you to understand what we do and how it might change your life. Each step is built one on the next. It’s kind of like math you can’t miss one class and still think you know it all, one class builds on the next.
My story starts in the sleepy southern Indiana town of Bloomington. In the early 1980s there was a film that they shot at Indiana University called Breaking Away (it won an Oscar so if you haven’t seen it I definitely recommend you do!) It was a cute little movie about a bike race. There is a scene in the movie where the main characters, one of which was Dennis Quaid, is swimming in a local rock quarry. There are many rock quarries in southern Indiana and when they're done using them to get the rock out, they fill with water. And when it’s hot the students go for swim in the water.
In the movie there's a scene where the main characters are jumping off of a 75 foot cliff into the water. Because this movie was filmed at Indiana University it became a rite of passage in the 80's to go to the rock quarry as a graduating senior and jump off the cliff. The year was 1988 and I was due to graduate soon so I went to the cliff with my four other roommates and we were going to jump. I being the smartest of the five decided that I would jump first.
And when you jump from 75 feet, which is the height from the top of the cliff to the water level, you ideally want to enter the water going very straight because by the time you hit the water you're going very very fast. So I jumped my goal was to hit the water straight but at a distance of 75 feet I slightly over corrected my position and when I landed I hit the water with my feet a little bit in front of me.
The end result for me was that I jammed my back very painfully into the water. Little did I know at the time I had jammed my l5 vertebrae into my sacrum causing a great deal of damage to my L5 S1 disk. Because I was young and I had never had pain that had not gone away the thought that I had at that moment was that my pain was going to go away it was just a matter of time. The old wait long enough and the pain will go away routine.
When I grew up I had times where I broke bones playing sports but even the broken bone pain eventually would go away. If you've ever broken a bone you know it's a very distinct type of pain. The pain I felt in my back after I jumped was different, it was sharper but it didn't feel like I broke anything. So my thoughts were that this pain will go away so I did nothing.
I eventually in 1988 graduated, with back pain, and moved back to Wheaton, Illinois. My father was and is a chiropractor, I told him at the time that I was having some back pain, I didn't tell him why I had back pain, but I told him I was suffering. He gave me some treatments and I felt a little better. This inspired me to precede a career as a chiropractor. I entered into Chiropractic College in 1990, still suffering with back pain but feeling better knowing I will be able to figure this back problem out because I am attending a chiropractic college.
Over the next two years my back pain progressively worsened. I had some more chiropractic treatments and some physical therapy and started taking pain medicine. I was able to get through the days but my back pain was a problem. Then one day my back went out, the pain in my back went to a 10 and I had pain down both legs. I eventually had some diagnostic procedures and extensive exams and I had found out that I had done some severe damage to my lumbar vertebral discs. I had the trifecta a herniated disc, a degenerated disc and a bulging disc all causing my sciatica, pain down both of my legs.
I again received more treatments; chiropractic, physical therapy, medicine, and they were helping but the pain was not going completely away. I eventually graduated Chiropractic College with back pain and opened a clinic in countryside Illinois. What I discovered right away in my clinic treating back pain was that 80 percent of our patients, the back pain would go away and never come back, 20 percent the pain would get a little better but always come back and sometimes come back more severe, these 20 percent were just like me. I was a practicing chiropractor, treating back pain, and I had severe back pain, I suffered from a strong case of irony.
The pain was compromising all aspects of my life. It was very difficult for me to work a long day and go home and play with my kids. On a bad day the best I could do was go home and lay on the floor. Cutting my grass was also a challenge, I got to the point where when I cut my grass I would have rest my back for a few hours by laying down. Even picking up my kids after a while was out of the question.
At the time I was an active golfer and golfing would cause so much pain for 2 or 3 days I would physically have to hold the walls of the hallway as I'm walking down the hallway. I was getting more treatments and taking more medicine and doing physical therapy, and the situation was getting worse. So I decided one day I would have to stop playing golf. I stopped playing for 10 years.
Eventually years after the initial injury the pain got so bad in my back, and my legs, that I felt like I needed to do something different. I couldn’t live this way any longer! I was unable to manage the pain with the well-known conventional methods and the challenge of the pain was getting the best of me both physically and emotionally. When you have back pain long enough it starts to affect you emotionally.
I felt like I had to do something but everything that I was doing wasn't working. So it got to the point where I had to make a decision about my career and about my back and about my life.
I consulted with several surgeons and all of them thought surgery was a good idea. But as a practicing chiropractor I knew that my career paths would change indefinitely if I were to pursue the surgery. The outcome for surgery for my conditions is not always very good and it would be a grand challenging for me to continue to treat others with back pain if I were post-surgery.
So my back was against the wall and I had to find a way out without surgery. Or I needed to find a different profession and suffer with this pain and that was not an option. I thought very long and hard about what I should do. And I eventually decided that I will give every effort I have to try to find a solution to my problem, something outside what I knew… I decided to go on a quest, and meet with everybody and anybody that might have a solution to my very complicated back problem.
I will make my best effort to get through my story in the next month and explain along the way all the steps that I went through to get out of my pain. After I made the decision to find a way out I went on my journey and met with specialists and these stories will be about the people that I met and the things I learned along the way.
This is part one and I hope to have at least 2 new blog posts every week dedicated to you understanding what causes back pain and how to make it better.