So, I think I’m officially going to be fine :) In a nutshell, my symptoms are improving so rapidly that I expect to make a full recovery.
In more detail:
I did follow up with a neurologist yesterday, who also thought my exam looked normal, except for the sensations of tingling and numbness that I was still experiencing.
She did clarify an important question for me, which might be useful for other people to know out there as well, which is that the MRI can’t actually rule out nerve damage. I was really confused by this in the hospital, when everyone kept telling me that, because my x-ray and MRI’s were normal, none of this would be permanent.
Now I have a better understanding, which is that both of those images are used to rule out structural problems– things that could be pressing on the nerve, and stopping it from working well. So what they told me at the hospital wasn’t actually true. What they should have said was that no further action was required in an emergency setting.
There are other tests that are actually used to diagnose nerve function— specifically, an electromyogram, or EMG. In this test, they actually stick small needles into the muscles of your arms or legs, to measure the electrical activity of the nerves. That would be the only way to see if my nerves had actually been damaged.
The neurologist has said I could have this test if I want, and I may still.
However, my symptoms are also improving so rapidly that I am not terribly concerned at this point. The doctor said the PT’s hypothesis, about how a nerve had become inflamed by the adjustment, and now the muscles in my body are compensating to protect the area, was completely possible.
The EMG is also pretty painful– I’ve had one done before, back when I was diagnosed with compartment syndrome. So I’m not in a huge rush to go through that again. I’ll certainly let you all know what happens, though.
In the meantime– I’m really just grateful that this wasn’t worse.
The truth is that, while I don’t really believe that everything happens for a reason, I almost wonder if this did. Because I’m already in a position to reach so many people (not trying to brag– just saying). And I will now definitely be spreading the word that chiropractic adjustments carry risks, and that people should definitely think critically about whether the benefits outweigh the potential costs.
For those of you out there who go to a chiropractor, or who are considering it, just know that I ended up in an emergency room with the staff telling me they see chiropractic injuries all the time. Injuries that are much worse than mine, and that are permanent.
I didn’t have space to mention this my first post, but the first time I went to the ER, even the x-ray technician had a chiropractor horror story. Which is to say that he went once for neck pain, and had the adjustment, and everything was fine.
But then he followed up with a doctor and found that he had a calcified ligament in his neck, that was the source of his pain. In other words, he had this hard, abnormal structure in his neck– right by the major arteries that supply blood to the brain.
The doctor told him never, ever to go back to a chiropractor– that the adjustments could be risking his life.
So, there you have it. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t believe chiropractic adjustments can do anything– I’ve felt it myself. I believe the chiropractors really are moving the joints, and that (most of the time) the adjustments can provide amazing symptom relief.
But as of now, I just don’t think it’s worth the risks. I don’t think there’s been enough research, and I don’t believe that patients are adequately informed.
I still do think the chiropractic profession has something to offer, but as I have said before, I think it has more to do with their knowledge of joint mechanics, and how joint alignment can cause pain, than the actual adjustments themselves.
I wish there was some kind of a middle road, where people could take some of that knowledge and use it to adapt safer alternatives.
And… you know what? Maybe there are more alternatives than I’m currently aware of. After all, I swear by Muscle Energy Technique for the SI joints… yet I’ve never really looked into it for other parts of the body. But it’s definitely out there! Here’s an example of MET being used for the mid-back– although it looks like the PT is sort of contorting the patient, when it comes time to actually “adjust” the spine, it’s only being driven by the patient’s own muscle contractions:
To tell you the truth, I think I was still receiving chiropractic adjustments because they are sort of a quick fix. I have been sort of skeptical of them for a while, especially as they turned out to actually be prolonging my SI joint healing. I was always wondering if there were drawbacks I didn’t know about, from having a chiropractor adjust other parts of my back.
Now I know– there are. And there are alternatives.
So I’m just going to thank my lucky stars that I’m okay, and keep searching.