About a month ago, I found myself suddenly awoken in the middle of the night by a slew of unpleasant physical symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, cold-sweats, a headache, arm numbness, and back pain were among the most noticeable. Later that night, my hands started clamping up uncontrollably which really freaked me out and made me think I had some kind of neurological problem. Needless to say I was very alarmed by the experience and immediately made an appointment with my healthcare provider the following morning.
After being examined thoroughly by a PA, she came to the conclusion that I was having two unrelated reactions at the same time. She suspected the nausea, vomiting, and cold-sweats were due to the shrimp I had eaten for lunch, and that the other symptoms were a result of anxiety and insomnia. I had my doubts about her diagnoses but I didn’t go to medical school so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I was, however, relieved to hear that my heart, lungs, and blood pressure appeared to be in good shape. Not gonna lie, I thought there was a possibility of a heart attack with the arm numbness and all but I’m glad it hadn’t come to that. She suggested I eat bland meals for the rest of the day, take some melatonin to help with my stress-induced insomnia, and sent me on my way.
But the arm numbness seemed to get progressively worse following my appointment and in a matter of days the back pain started to shoot up towards my neck. I found myself waking up to these symptoms in the morning and that’s when I decided this wasn’t stress. There was something physically wrong with me.
The discomfort started to take an emotional toll on me so I figured it was time to pay my very first visit to a chiropractor. Before my symptoms appeared, I knew very little about the world of chiropractic care. I thought they were just like any other branch of medical treatment and had no idea there was so much controversy around its legitimacy. At the very least I figured they’d be more credible than acupuncturists but after reading numerous articles on the matter, I can see that many people view them as frauds.
I’ve always been a skeptic by nature, so I read up on a few scientific research articles and anecdotal evidence before forming an opinion. After my first visit, I can confidently say that the muscle work and spine adjustments not only helped reduce my symptoms, but gave me a better understanding of how to take care of my body. Being a student often leads to bad posture (just imagine me hunched over a computer screen for hours at a time and carrying a back-pack stuffed with books) which contributed to all the aches and pains I was experiencing. Consistently bad posture and awkward sleeping positions can lead to pinched nerves that trigger back/neck/arm pain like the ones I had.
With that new knowledge in mind, I was able to adjust my behavior in the following days and noticed great improvement. I would say there was about a 90% reduction in back pain, 70% in neck pain, and almost 100% of my arm numbness was gone. I also felt less stiff after getting my back cracked which I’ve never done before. I’m actually looking forward to my follow-up appointment in a few days so I can get more muscle work done and share my success with the D.C.
Overall the experience was a pleasant and informative one, and also got me thinking about why it is that people are so against natural ways of treating ourselves. America, especially, is the most drugged-up country in the world. I could have popped some pain-killers and hoped for the best, but I wanted to get to the root of the problem and not just numb my senses with potentially harmful OTC drugs.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those anti-pharmaceutical nuts that believe in the power of wishful thinking. Couldn’t be further from the truth. But if there’s a natural, more affordable, and less risky way to treat myself, you bet I’ll be all over that. It’s really all about weighing your options and assessing the pros and cons of each method. One of the things that I like about getting to the root of a health problem is the long-term benefits. Merely treating symptoms for the rest of your life is costly!
This is why I don’t completely dismiss all forms of alternative care. I’d much rather look at evidence and make an informed decision rather than make sweeping generalizations. I think we owe it to ourselves to approach our health issues with an open mind and not simply reach for the easiest treatment. And lets be honest. It’s often prescription or OTC drugs.
I think my upcoming new year’s resolution should be something along the lines of putting less artificial substances in my body and paying attention to the everyday stressors in my life that cause problems. We only get one body and before I know it, I’ll be out of my twenties and experiencing a whole new level health problems I’ve never even heard of. Yikes!