So as I mentioned previously, I went to see a chiropractor last year to see if this would be an option to reduce my face, head, neck and shoulder pain. After speaking to my massage therapist and a family friend I decided to book myself a consultation.
I suffer from a range of issues and have been trying out different and more natural pain relieving methods over the past 2 years. I must say my pain is less than it was 4 years ago, but nowhere near the level that I would find tolerable. My symptoms include: TMJ pain, trigeminal nerve pain, migraines, muscle spasms and muscle weakness around my jaw and neck. The pain radiates down my arm and sometimes I am unable to grip. I have a very irregular menstrual cycle. I only had 3 periods last year. I have cold hands and feet 90% of the time. I always have a slightly elevated temperature. I have fatigue and muscle weakness in the rest of my body. This feels like having the flu every day of my life. And finally, I suffer from reoccurring sinus infections.
So one afternoon my mother and I went to the clinic. I was quite nervous as I tried osteopathic treatment in 2013 and it made my pain 50 times worse. I could hardly move the following day. I tried to ease my nerves as I knew this would not help my pain levels.
According to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), a chiropractor is “concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health”. Although some osteopaths and chiropractors operate very similar practices, my understanding is that a chiropractor focuses more on the bones in your spine and an osteopath is more concerned with your muscles and overall body health. Chiropractors employ a wider range of techniques for manipulating the spine, whereas osteopaths employ a wider range of techniques overall.
During the consultation I had to go through my medical history and explain the issues I was having. We then moved on to the manipulation. At first I was asked to stand and sit and bend forward while the chiropractor places small pen marks on my back and neck. The chiropractor I saw was not into clicking and crunching my bones. Instead he moved my legs, arms and neck into weird positions and we had to hold it there for the count of three, while he continued to put pressure on the area. It was really painful to start but as soon as he released me, the pain disappeared. It was very odd indeed. Apparently, my hips were a few centimetres out of place. When I stood up I noticed the difference straight away.
We then focused on my upper spine. Len (the chiropractor) focused on my atlas and axis. These two vertebrae play a crucial role in the functioning of the nervous system. When these are aligned it allows for better body functioning. After my neck was manipulated, I was asked to lie on the bed, while he worked on my head and jaw. He could see I was very wary about letting anyone touch my face so he said we could leave this area. I wanted to see if this treatment would be of benefit to me, so I opted to continue.
We moved on to cranial therapy. Cranial therapy is a gentle hands on treatment that aims to release tension and induce relaxation. Len went on to explain, although we think of the skull as one huge bone in fact it is a complex system of little bones. Much like a jigsaw puzzle! The surrounding soft tissues and scalp should feel like a football to touch. Firm but slightly springy. Apparently, mine was so hard he described it as a bowling ball. After around 10 minutes of very light touching I could feel the pressure in my head decreasing.
According to Horsley Chiropractic care- “Cranial therapy releases restricted skull joints and their supporting tissues through a painless procedure involving gentle application of focussed pressure. It is a gentle, safe and extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age.”
The consultation took 50 minutes and cost £35. Len was great at explaining exactly what he was doing and why it was important. He believes that my body has gone through a huge shock and that it will just take time to heal itself. He doesn’t believe in the use of pharmaceutical drugs, but can appreciate why people require them. He really seemed to have my best interests at heart and you can tell he does it for the love, not for the money. After leaving the consultation I felt a little better. I definitely saw an improvement in my walk and also experienced a lot less pain in my bottom half of my body. I did not have another crazy migraine for a few weeks. At which point I booked up to see Len again. He advised that I see him when I need to. I did not need much of an adjustment, but he was happy to do cranial work on me.
So in my opinion seeking the help of a good chiropractor may be beneficial for some pain relief. Especially if you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, TMJ disorder, fibromyalgia or migraines. As always seek a medical opinion (if you have not already) to rule out any other possible reasons for your pain and discomfort. If you recently had jaw surgery, please discuss this with your surgeon before undertaking any treatment or activity.
Happy New Year!