And then one month ago, I woke up with debilitating lower back pain—the worst I’d ever experienced. I iced my low back. I stayed horizontal. I rubbed arnica on the area where I had the most pain. When I was still out of commission after two days and I had to stay home from work, I was immediately open to anything that had a shot at making me feel better. So when Linda, our editor in chief, and Lauren, our managing editor, both recommended I see Larry Frieder, DC, a Boulder, Colorado–based chiropractor, I called for the first appointment I could get.
I hobbled into his office that same day, more scared than I was even before getting my wisdom teeth removed. A story I’d read in a major women’s health magazine that fueled my fear of chiropractors flashed through my mind: Neck manipulations can lead to stroke in some cases, the article warned, and up to 20 percent of women feel no better after visiting a chiropractor, according to the magazine’s online poll. Would I get cracked to the point of feeling worse? Was that even possible? Dr. Frieder called me in to his exam room, and I hoped for the best.
Dr. Frieder’s first few questions immediately put me at ease. He asked about my pain—where it was located, whether it was radiating down my legs, and what was happening in my life that might’ve brought it on. I’d gone skiing for the first time this season the day my pain set in, but stress could’ve been another culprit, Dr. Frieder told me. “Stress goes to the weakest spots in your body,” he told me.A few particularly stressful events had, in fact, happened, and it turns out they more than likely manifested—albeit a few weeks later—in my low back.
Since I was still having trouble moving on the day of my first appointment with Dr. Frieder, he did some very gentle massage and electric stimulation—both of which relieved a lot of pain and tension. He also performed what I dreaded most—spinal manipulation—but explained that the “cracking” noise is not bone, as most people (including me!) fear, but rather a small pocket of air in the tissue fluid surrounding the joints that makes a “pop” sound when the joint tissue is stretched during an adjustment.
After my first “crack” I smiled, and even let out a little giggle. “That’s because adjustments actually boost feel-good endorphins in the body,” Dr. Freider explained. A psychological bonus, I thought as I stood up and, for the first time in days, actually felt some physical relief as well.
One month and three sessions later, I’m officially a chiropractic convert. Dr. Frieder helped me overcome this latest bout of back pain, and even better, I plan on seeing him every month or so for “tune-ups” so we can work to prevent my low-back pain from coming back.
I’d love to hear about your chiropractic experiences or other remedies that help you get through much-dreaded back pain.