When Stacey returned from her one-week mission trip from Nicaragua through our church on June 29, she was dealing with tremendous leg and back pain that kept her tossing and turning most of the night (keeping me up as well!).
This was most likely a result of sleeping on a very hard and uncomfortable bed for a week (at least she had air conditioning and in-door plumbing while she was there!).
We decided to go to the chiropractor because the pain hadn't decreased and because Stacey doesn't have medical insurance (they have an affordable cash plan for those without insurance).
The chiropractor we chose was affordable and happened to be a friend of mine from high school. During Stacey's initial exam, Dr. Powell talked with her about the pain, took x-rays and examined her neck, back and feet. She began treatment the following day after seeing that she had some neck and back issues that needed adjusting in order to help relieve the pain.
I also decided to get examined since I hadn't been to a chiropractor in more than two years. I've been to another chiropractor for neck and back pain from a car accident in 1995 (I was rear-ended) and then again in 2005-2006 for shoulder and knee pain.
However, I felt it would be a good idea to keep myself healthy and avoid future shoulder and knee pain. After the initial exam and x-rays, I came back the following day for the results and first treatment.
We looked at my x-rays and my neck looked pretty good. It had a nice curve with only a small area near the base of my skull that needed some adjusting. I was joking with Stacey that my neck looked better than hers (as her neck has no curve, it's completely straight - not a good thing!).
Then, we looked at my spine. To say that I was surprised is an understatement. I couldn't believe the x-ray that showed what looked like a snake in my back. Dr. Powell immediately told me that I have scoliosis.
What I couldn't believe is that I've never known this. No one ever told me or diagnosed me with it. I don't recall my previous chiropractor ever mentioning it. And it wasn't like it was a minor case of scoliosis. I have an 18-degree curve, which is considered fairly severe.
Dr. Powell said that if he can reduce it to 12 degrees (a 5-degree difference), that would be a huge improvement and most likely the best that could be done without surgery.
If I don't address it, it could cause a lot of pain and problems in the future. I believe that the only reason I haven't had as much pain as others with scoliosis is the fact that I have been weight training for more than 15 years. Dr. Powell agreed that my physical activity has definitely helped me.
Knowing that I have scoliosis also helps clear up a few things. I have always had uneven shoulders, a common symptom (I thought it was a muscle imbalance between my traps) and slight rounding of my mid back. From the exam, I also found out that there is a 4-degree difference between my right and left hips (they should both be 0 degrees).
In the past, I have had mid- and lower back pain that would come and go. I always attributed it to working out too hard or just straining myself from heavy squats and deadlifts. Although my weight training workouts have helped me gain strength and muscle, they have not completely offset the fact that the scoliosis can cause back pain and problems.
This also explains why I can't seem to hold the bar straight when I perform back squats. For as long as I can remember, the bar is always slightly over to one side. I have tried to fix it, but it doesn't feel right and I end up going right back to my "normal" position. I believe the scoliosis is also the reason why I've had problems with heavy back squats throughout the last several years. It's one reason why I've switched to front squats for the past year.
I've also had knee issues that could be a result of the scoliosis and the fact that my hips are off balance. All of these things play a role in how everything functions in the body. Something as simple as a curve in the neck or spine can carry down through the legs, knee and feet.
I'm not going to use scoliosis as an excuse, but it does shed some light on some of the above issues I've had (and a few others I've noticed in recent years). I plan on continuing to train as hard as usual while receiving chiropractor care from Dr. Powell to hopefully help reduce the curve and keep me pain free and healthy.
I'll post more about this as things improve with treatment and see how it affects my training.