Update on my back

So, I went to the new doc today. A “D.O.” Now, I don’t know much about osteopathy, but, living in Boulder as long as I have, this stuff seems to be way more scientifically based than a lot of stuff I’ve tried (and has worked), so I’m game.

She seemed pretty darn excited to be working a case of childhood hip dysplasia. And she read the article I brought in about it (something Mom cut out of the paper for me years ago) and I showed her my brace from when I was a wee one. And she seemed to understand the problem exactly, and, after checking me out, she said that I have compensated remarkably well. Sure, the brace has its downsides (e.g., my current problems) but without it I would have developed painful arthiritis and needed hip replacement surgery by the time I was 25. Now, most health care people that I’ve explained all this stuff too have said, “What? No hip sockets? Do you have them now? How do you walk?” They are sympathetic but obviously have never really thought about it before. Or, there’s my usual M.D. who, as much as I love him, is pretty laissez-faire about some things. And this being out of the field of his expertise, he has shown much interest in it. Frankly, this woman was the first person who, when I explained my history and my current complaints to her, said, “I think I can help you.”

Go ahead, be cynical and tell me about that new boat she’s saving up for. But those 6 words right there made my day. And then she went on to explain stuff to me about how the spine develops that pretty much explains why I have the troubles that I do. She said that when we are born, the vertebrae still aren’t developed. And since I was in a brace for the better part of the first two years of my life, my vertebrae and nervous system responses got the idea that leaning forward was normal. So, now, whenever I sit in a chair, the first thing I do is lean forward. If there’s nothing for me to put my arms on to hold myself up, I’ll prop up one knee so that I’m actually leaning back in order to keep me straight up and down. Chairs are torture devices to me, unless they are so plush that I can cross my legs in them, which effectively puts my knees higher than my lower back and so my world is right again.

The other thing she said is that every joint in the body has a natural subtle rotation that happens all of the time without us knowing it. Like, when we are totally relaxed, the joints still move ever so slightly, like breathing. Now, my hips are super flexible. I can easily put myself into and out of all sorts of yoga positions that other people moan and groan over. But that’s voluntary, intentional movement. When she was treating me and had me totally relaxed (to the point of about falling asleep), she checked my hips and she said they hardly move at all on their own. So, that needs some fixin’ too.

Anyway, this is the deal
* She can treat me in a way to repattern my nervous system and open up some more natural mobility in my hips. I’ve already had my first treatment. It was really gentle. I couldn’t tell you at all what she did, but I felt weird afterwards. Really open and a bit unusual. And I couldn’t stop yawning. She said it’ll probably take a few months, but the changes will be permanent. This’ll do the work from the inside out.
* She also is sending me to a pilates instructor/body worker for private sessions to develop a specialized program for me that will focus on strengthening only the areas I need without requiring a bunch of fancy equipment (hopefully). This’ll do the work from the outside in.
* She wants me to get a zero gravity chair situation at work so I’m not constantly using compensatory muscles to get me to sit up straight when my spine just isn’t aligned to work well that way. She’ll write me a prescription. Hopefully, the ergonomics people here at the office will comply without too much grumbling. (It’s an expensive chair and it basically means redesigning my office because I won’t be using a desk anymore.)

If this works, I’ll be ever so pleased. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


So, I don’t usually say much about my back pain here because it is such a pervasive thing in my life that I hardly find it noteworthy. Some days are good, some days not so good. For a couple years there, I rotated between modalities, getting either rolfing, chiropractic, or deep tissue massage once a week. It was serious, time consuming work and it got to be an expensive experiment with very little pay off. I’d feel great directly afterwards and then a few hours later or the next morning, the pattern would creep in again. I’ve had multiple ergonomic evaluations at work and have a fancy, split keyboard and special, Swedish chair. I alternate between sitting on the Swede and sitting on my balance ball. I mostly eat organic and vegatarian and try to minimize the bad stuff that can go into a body (although I could stand to cut back on the sugar). I try to drink lots of water every day. I’ve done movement classes (a lightweight combo of yoga and dance).

And, after all of this, the things that have helped the most are yoga and tango. Here’s my theory about the root of the problem … The usual self-analysis and ranting while trying not to whine