I was recently bragging that at my age, I was very lucky to be healthy and have NO back or neck pain. Well, a week later, I developed the slow onset of severe lower back pain. It got to the point where I couldn’t even bend over to put my socks on. I knew this was not just a little muscle strain. In pain, I ultimately went to one of the biggest Orthopedic (or if you are fancy, orthopaedic) clinics in the Twin Cities. The doctor had me walk on my heels, walk on my toes and spent less than four minutes with me. I honestly can’t remember him ever really examine me with his hands. His answer was to prescribe Prednisone for a “likely herniated disc with nerve impingement”. I left his office after 6 minutes. I was still in pain. Even the receptionist commented ” you are done already”.
I had to wait to pick up the Prednisone and started taking it. It did reduce my pain, but I still had PAIN and loss of range of motion. After 4 days of being very uncomfortable and actually limited, I called my dear friend, Chiropractor John Renelus of Paramount Chiropractic Clinic in Golden Valley. In fact, I saw him this afternoon (2/28/2014). He took the time to give me a thorough orthopedic exam and neurological exam. He diagnosed a facet joint injury in my low back, and not a discal syndrome. He explained why. Importantly, Dr. Renelus treated me on the spot with heat therapy, electrical stimulation, manual traction, gentle adjustment to the low and mid back, and massage. Dr. John Renelus also took the time to educate me on my injury and the healing process. All kidding aside, I came to his office in pain (a 7 out of 10) and left with essentially no pain (0-1). I could move. I could bend down to put my shoes on. The treatment was incredibly helpful and valid.
The entire experience was very eye-opening for me. What was most profound was the realization and fact that when I saw the orthopedic surgeon, I literally left his office in the same condition (pain and disability) that I had entered with. I was given no empathy or sympathy and definitely no symptomatic relief. Yet, the chiropractic physician made the effort to make sure my symptoms were treated and reduced, on the spot, before I left his office. It is quite curious to me that the orthopedic clinic had nothing to offer me on the spot. No down-the-hall massage, no samples of muscle relaxants or analgesics (pain killers). Not even a heating pad or ice pack. Anti-inflamatories (medrol dose pack) and “call next week if you are not better) with a quick point to the exit is all I got. I could’t even get a 2 second back rub. I felt like a vagrant taking up too much time of the doctor who seemed to scoff at my symptoms. In fairness, he likely read in my chart I was an attorney and maybe he was just “gun-shy” of saying or doing more?????
The take-away from this entire experience is: 1. Back pain is very real and it hurts. It is disabling and makes your life miserable. 2. The medical community may be good at diagnosing serious medical conditions such as a true herniated disc with nerve impingement, but at best, they send you off to fend for yourself with prescriptions and, maybe, a referral to Physical Therapy. The medical model did not have the “system” in place to start fixing the problem (hands on) in the little exam room where you are lucky to get more than 5 minutes with the doctor. 3. Chiropractic care is very empathetic and immediately responsive to pain. From the very first visit, symptomatic relief is offered. Why is it the orthopedic clinic could not even offer me a hot back for my low back?
I certainly have much more empathy for my clients who have back pain, and a much greater respect, appreciation and gratitude for the work chiropractors perform. Without any reservation, I would recommend Dr. John Relenus at Paramount Chiropractic in Golden Valley for anyone with neck or back pain. This is not to say you should not see an orthopedist or neurologist to rule out serious structural conditions. (legal disclaimer here). I publicly thank my friend Dr. John. His treatment worked! I will still take the rest of my Prednisone just to be doubly sure.
Rich Hechter, J.D.,MBA
Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist