Moving forward//where do I go from here?

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I love this photo so much.  I first found it a few years ago, and used it in one of my posts about pain neurophysiology education (which I hope to eventually talk about on this blog, as well!).

And it’s really speaking to me now, in the aftermath of what happened a week and a half ago.

Because I can feel it now– I can feel my nervous system function returning.   It feels like my nervous system again; it feels like me.

The pain and inflammation have died down enough now that I can tell what’s going on in my body again (in all the affected areas, if you know what I mean!).

And I just feel so lucky and grateful to have gone through this and come out on the other side.

My symptoms are not all the way gone, but at this point, they are improving at such an exponential rate that now I know, for myself, that if I were to schedule that last test the neurologist offered me (the EMG) everything would probably come out normal, at least by the time I was actually able to schedule the test.

It’s an amazing feeling, to feel that knowing coming from deep within, that you’re going to be okay.  Because for a moment there, I don’t think I, or my body, knew what was going on.

What I can tell you is that, in the moments after that chiropractic adjustment, my body had a strong, deep knowing that things were not okay.  

The way my legs were trembling and on the verge of buckling beneath me when I stood up– not okay.

And the fact that (I didn’t even mention this yet) all the stress of everything made my period come two weeks early– not okay.  I know this happens to some women often, but it has literally never happened to me.

All of it was my body reacting, and telling me that whatever had just happened, it was wrong for me.

***

Multiple people have asked me, since it happened, whether I’ve talked to my chiropractor about it.  And the answer is yes, he did.  He saw me as I was standing there with my legs shaking, and he decided it was fine to leave for the day.

To be fair, I’ve had a lot of anxiety around chiropractic adjustments before, and he had come to think of me as someone with a lot of anxiety.  But I’m starting to think that it wasn’t really anxiety– that, actually, I was starting to become really aware of the risks, and was actually correct to be so worried.

Where do I go from here?

We can’t really know whether things happen for a reason.  But either way, we can make meaning out of things for ourselves.

This is how I’ve come to deal with many of the health challenges and setbacks I’ve faced at times.  Resisting change makes things worse; instead it’s easier on you if you can adapt.

So I’m choosing to see this as a reason and an opportunity to learn more about the alternatives to chiropractic adjustments.  This is probably really important for me to learn anyway, as a future PT who plans to specialize in the sacroiliac joint.

The SI joints

“Why are you still talking about chiropractic adjustments, when you already decided they were bad for the SI joints?” I can imagine some of you asking me.  Well, the answer is two-fold:

As many of you know, SI joint dysfunction can cause pain and symptoms in all sorts of places in the body.  Although I had found chiropractic adjustments to backfire for the SI joints themselves, I had still found they helped to relieve pain and restore motion in other parts of the back.  My chiropractor was always sort of there as my back-up plan when I pushed things too much and hit a wall (as I did in the past month, due to moving).

So it’s sort of a change in plan for me to know that, actually… my backup plan of being able to run back to the chiropractor when my lower back (or upper back) got locked up is now off the table.  There were times that he really helped me (otherwise I wouldn’t have kept going back).

The chiropractic profession and the SI Joint

I’ve also learned a ton of about the mechanics of the SI joint itself from chiropractors.  As I have said before, I do think they know a lot about a joint that mainstream medicine has yet to devote proper attention to.  My chiropractor was the only person I came across, in the first few years, who was able to free up my joint once it got stuck.  Obviously this wasn’t really a great long-term plan, as the joint would only get stuck again a day later, but it was the best option I had at the time.

And I imagine the same is true for many of my readers.  It can be so hard to find the right doctor and the right PT.  There may be a lot of people out there, like me, who’ve found that a chiropractor is the only person able to give them (temporary) relief for their SI joints.

For all these reasons, one my goals for the future, as a PT, was to try to adapt some of this chiropractic knowledge in a form that was gentler, and less risky, for patients.

And I suppose it still is my goal… it’s just going to have to look a lot different.

Links that may interest you:

I’ve been doing a ton of research in the past week, trying to make sense out of what happened to me.  So… now I have a bunch of links to share!

First, I thought this would be a good time to re-share an article I’d found, written by a chiropractor who is actually critical of his own profession.  He goes into detail on why he doesn’t think chiropractic adjustments alone are enough to heal SI joint dysfunction.

I also thought I’d remind you of the information I’ve put up about the Muscle Energy Technique, which ultimately is what allowed me to stop receiving chiropractic adjustments to the SI joints, and was one of the keys to my healing.

Interesting article from Spine Health on some of the various manual therapy techniques used by physical therapists, such as soft-tissue mobilization, strain-counterstrain, joint mobilization, and of course, Muscle Energy!

Explanation of the different grades of joint mobilization from Wright Physical Therapy.  As I understand it, chiropractic adjustments are Grade 5, while usually what PT’s do doesn’t go above Grades 3 or 4.

I will definitely have more to say on this topic in the future!  Stay tuned!  As always, if you have any questions, you can email me at sunlightinwinter12@gmail.com or comment below!

Photo available courtesy of Cliph

 

6 thoughts on “Moving forward//where do I go from here?

  1. Gail Purcell says:

    Since reading your blog, I changed how my chiropractor adjusts me; he now only uses the activator. I had already changed the way he adjusted my neck, because I was getting jolts of disorientation. It is so nice to not hurt when I am adjusted and instead the MET, the SI belt, and my exercises keep my SI joints in place. I also found according to my physical therapist, that my left hip collapsed and twisted with each step, so I have changed the way I walk and it helps a lot.

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    • sunlight in winter says:

      That is great, Gail! Sounds like things are going well! I probably should clarify that the adjustment that caused this actually was done with an Activator. I didn’t think it was possible, because as I’m sure you know, the Activator is supposed to be a lot more gentle. But I think my lumbar vertebrae were rotated pretty far out of place, so it took sort of a vigorous adjustment to put them back in alignment. But I am really glad you are finding a routine that works for you– and yes, neck adjustments are probably the most important thing to be careful about. That’s interesting about changing the way you walk– I hope things keep improving for you!

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  2. S. says:

    Do you think adjustments by PTs are also dangerous for you? I have had adjustments, as well as offers of adjustments, from excellent PTs which my back doctor was fine with, however, one time when my lumbar spine rotation was fixed, I had some mild numbness to my toes. I also have had trouble with my pelvis rotating making one leg way longer and that has not been fixable yet with MET. I have had it readjusted at PT and then do MET exercises at home to try to prevent it from going back. The eventual goal from my PT is just MET alone, but so far that is not working. And I had same leg numbness once after MET at home! I have EDS and a special connective tissue PT from state medical university who initially did not want to do adjustments but nothing else was putting me back in alignment. She knows the risks of realigning people with EDS, is opposed to chiropractors for EDS and prefers exercises, but even still I got a little numbness once. Doing PT out of alignment was causing so many problems at back clinic and connective tissue PT. So I feel torn.
    You do not have EDS, but have hyper mobility—would you still get adjustments at PT? I would think some risk would still be there. For instance, my Mayo trained neck PT years ago said my husband should never have neck adjustments at PT because he is at risk for strokes.

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    • Christy Collins says:

      Hi S., wow, this definitely sounds like a tricky situation. Generally, I’ve never heard of MET being used preventatively. In fact, my PT’s have always cautioned me not to do unless I really need to (because I’m out of alignment), because doing it too often can actually create more problems.

      How is the PT adjusting you at your visit? I haven’t heard of a PT really doing a successful adjustment that isn’t a form of MET. So I think it really depends. If it’s the same kind of adjustment that’s done by a chiropractor, I would be very cautious.

      Did you see my post on how I had temporary leg numbness and weakness for a week after a chiropractic adjustment to my lumbar spine? That was the last time I’ll ever go to a chiropractor (and I would not consider having a PT perform similar adjustments on me, either). https://sijointsaga.com/2018/05/22/chiropractic-risk/ When I was at the ER, the staff there told it’s not uncommon for people to come in after chiropractor visits with permanent injuries– blood clots, strokes, etc. I believe this is a risk for anyone, although your husband is certainly at increased risk.

      There are basically two reasons to be cautious of any adjustment. Serious safety issues, as well as the potential for re-spraining your ligaments through the force of the adjustment. This is something I experienced (without knowing it) for years, and is part of why I believe I finally got better once I stopped receiving chiropractic adjustments.

      For you, as someone with EDS, I would think this would be even more of a concern. Even if the adjustments are correcting your alignment, they may be creating further problems for your ligaments.

      This is a question only you can answer for yourself, but since I don’t recommend that anyone receive chiropractic style adjustments, I would certainly recommend that you don’t.

      I am surprised MET doesn’t help you. I wonder if you might benefit from another opinion. There are different forms of MET and it’s possible that the person you were seeing just isn’t the right person to help you. Again, I’ve never heard of anyone making the recommendation that you use MET preventatively, so make of that what you will.

      I hope this helps!

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    • S. says:

      Thank you for your reply! Wow, maybe I misunderstood my PT, about it being preventative, since I still have the problem. I assumed I would keep doing it forever even after I was better like strengthening excercises but maybe I was mistaken. Thinking on it, she did not say to do it forever. I will have to ask. Right now my pelvis is rotated so my leg is not fitting right and is about an inch longer and initially the connective tissue PT was against any manual adjustments. She even said in the fall, no, we definitely won’t be doing any adjustments on you ( I asked.) but since it has been over half a year, she started doing gentle adjustment which makes my pelvis realigned. Since I was not able to strengthen safely so out of alignment. Not sure how she does the alignment, I honestly do not feel anything when she does it, it takes a while, then afterwards my pelvis is back in position and my legs are same length. She actually has in past written letters to other PTs I have seen to not do adjustments, so it is not her favorite option. then because it starts to go back out of position right away I do the MET at home before doing strengthening exercises. But the MET alone is not working. I also tried some MET at back clinic.
      Most PTs I have seen want to do adjustments, more so than the connective tissue PT, whose motto is “strengthening in a neutral
      Position!” so maybe they are different than chiropractic adjustments, but I did see your post about numbness and felt concerned. Do you think they are the same? And is all numbness bad? I thought so, but I think I even mentioned my numbness to dr at back clinic and he was unconcerned? But numbness scared me. And I had that leg numbness from MET, too, and from having a muscle knot released in lower back, but not near spine. Weird. I love my connective tissue PT and tend to get hurt when I see people other than her, like earlier this year at back clinic PT. My dad has AS, maybe I should get tested.
      Thank you for the MET info, I will ask about that.

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  3. Sarah says:

    hello! I just wanted to thank you again and to say is an update that I am being helped by the muscle energy technique, now, or until I had to stop it this week. I also was under the impression that I did our exercises on both sides but I actually am only supposed to do one exercise on both sides preventatively. All others I am only supposed to do on one side when it goes out or locks up. My therapist had a very good and technical reason as to why she likes to do The one exercise on both sides preventively and why it would still be considered muscle energy technique. I think the way she is adjusting me was also muscle energy technique. I freaked out because I was brought up to be afraid of chiropractors. My grandpa dad and aunt are all medical doctors and my grandmothers were both nurses, and my grandpa always said that chiropractors were a good way to get yourself paralyzed. Perhaps that is unfair since many reputable that clinics use them but I always was afraid of them. and I was worried that pt adjustments were like that, but now having read more about what chiropractors actually do I don’t think it was ever at all what my pt did. Sadly I haven’t been able to do my muscle energy technique‘s this week because I really injured my neck separately and I was already having some trouble because my hands are in braces and and my knees are not happy. (I also was doing my hand therapy wrong despite very specific instructions and handouts from the hand therapist. Who is a different person then my PT. I am not very good at following directions. ) This is kind of the connective tissue dilemma when doing PT because most PT Requires you to use different parts of your body and most of those parts of my body are kind of fragile. But yes thank you for your help. I think I was panicked because my PT was gone for a bit and I had could not actually ask her any questions, but once I could it was all explained very well.
    By the way, You have stated that you do not have a connective tissue disorder, just bad joints, but have you ever actually been examined by a geneticist or a rheumatologist? I was originally sent by my rheumatologist to the geneticist for my Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis? I just wonder because of all of your troubles and also mast cell they think now Might be tied to Ehlers-Danlos. Just a thought, which probably has already occurred to you anyway .
    Thanks again for all your help with this and mattress shopping and pool stuff and the list goes on… I am considering your idea of leasing a car right now! You are really a lifeline of real world help and advice . I hope I can get back to the muscle energy technique after my other issues clear up because it was really miraculous once they knew what I was doing and allowed me to do strengthening in a safe aligned manner!

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