If you want to heal, you have to have a plan to heal. Let me tell you about Marge, who had a plan.
Marge was an 80-something-year-old woman who could barely walk, stand up straight or make it through the day without pain killers. After about five years of that, she couldn’t take the pain anymore and saw a doctor. For five more years she shuffled from doctor to doctor, getting pills from this one, injections from that one. Nothing worked because they weren’t treating the cause of her pain.
After 10 years of increasing pain and decreased functioning, she asked for our help. “I want to be able to cook for my husband again,” she said. “I want to be able to go up and down stairs. And I want to be able to clean my house like I have all my life.”
We ran some tests to determine if we could treat her. We have a rule at Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy: we don’t treat anyone unless we can restore 70 percent of their function. Marge had the most spinal damage I had ever seen before. She had severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine), severe arthritis, stenosis (narrowing of the vertebral canal), degenerative disc disease, and osteoporosis. The odds of her responding to our program, as successful as it is, were marginal at best. We broke the sad news to her: we couldn’t treat her.
But Marge persisted. “Why not try?” she asked. As long as she understood the odds, we agreed to help her. We told her we would need to work with her for twelve to sixteen weeks before she would see significant improvement. We applied the Butler Spine Program, an integrated mix of therapies including chiropractic, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture.
Now, 50 years of damage are not cured in a few weeks. After 12-14-16-18 visits of an hour or two each, Marge’s pain remained at a 10 out of 10. But Marge was unfazed because we had a plan.
We kept at it and by 24 visits Marge’s pain had declined by half. She could get around without her walker. She stood up straighter. She could walk down the hall without stopping to lean against the wall.
By the end of the 16 weeks – 48 visits – Marge could cook for her husband, go up and down stairs and clean her home. More than that, she stood so much straighter she thought she had grown!
Why did our therapies work when nothing else did? For one thing, we addressed the causes of her problems, a spine that needed to re-learn how to work. And we had a plan. Our therapy wasn’t just a series of shots in the dark, or in the back, in the hopes that she would magically feel better. It was designed with a purpose – to restore function, the function to clean, cook and climb stairs.
We wished we could have seen Marge 10 years earlier, and saved her all that pain and misery. But it just goes to show, it’s never too late for a visit to the chiropractor.