Sunday, October 18, 2009

One leg is shorter than the other

I've had lower-back pain for most of my adult life, despite having kept myself in near-perfect shape the entire time. Sometimes it almost goes away and there is just some residual stiffness, but it usually comes back to some degree after a good jog. And if I did heavy yardwork or moved heavy boxes in a move, I could hardly move the next day. It's been frustrating. Hell, I couldn't even stand in one place at a concert or a party for more than 45 minutes without sweating and feeling discomfort or pain.

I've tried everything (massages, chiropractic care, x-rays, different running shoes, medical doctors, different strides), but nothing has made it stop -- until last month.

After getting shooting lower-back pain because of lengthy chicken fights in my brother's swimming pool with his sons a couple of months ago (yes, STUPID), I couldn't even hardly get out of bed for days. I told my friend Marita about it, and she highly recommended a chiropractor named Sean McWillliams in Alpharetta.

Though I'd been to at least a half-dozen chiros previously, I gave Sean's office a call. I was surprised to learn that he only charges $25 for the initial checkup and adjustment, which included full x-rays of my skeleton in the necessary areas. I drove over.

He brought the x-rays into the adjustment room and put them on the wall. "Look," he said with a smile as he pointed at my hip bones on the screen. I noticed that one hip was considerably lower (and crooked) than the other. "What's that?" I asked. "Your right leg is almost a half-inch shorter than your left. That's what's causing you to tilt right. Look at yourself in the mirror."

"Wow!" I said, immediately seeing the consequences in my mind and then on the next x-ray of my lower back (crooked as shit). "Is that what's been giving me issues for so long." He nodded, again with a smile. "Can you fix it?" I asked. "Yep," he said, but you may need to wear shimmies in your right shoe for the rest of your life. "Ha, that's no prob, as long as I don't have back pain anymore! Why didn't other chiros get this?" "I don't know," he said diplomatically.

He gave me 7/16" shimmies for my running shoes and another pair of shoes and began immediate adjustments on my hips, my lower back, my middle back, my neck area and my legs. I felt a tiny bit of relief after that first adjustment. A week later, I felt only mild stiffness in my back and no pain. Another week later, I had no stiffness or pain.

The real test came after a run the following week. No pain, but a tiny bit of stiffness -- nothing like I would've had, though. He said it'll be a couple of months before the hips and spine have "relearned how they're supposed to work and shape."

The next real test came when I did 7 hours of yardwork 10 days ago, with a chainsaw in my hand for 6 hours and hauling heavy logs for another hour. The next day, not a smidgen of stiffness or pain. I could hardly believe it!

A couple of side benefits: I can feel my left shoulder and side relax with the tension taken off of it from the tilting, and I can breathe better. He said the reduced stress should also make my heart work better and my digestion improve. I don't know if it is already happening, but I went to a walk-in clinic last Saturday to have wax removed from one ear, and the doctor did a blood-pressure test. I was at 100 over 64, which is the lowest I've had since I was 16 years old.

Needless to say, I'm ecstatic, and I am thankful to one man becoming so good at his profession that he earns every penny of what I pay him. I am also thankful to Marita for telling me about Dr. Sean. In the last 5 weeks I have gotten used to walking straight again; it was weird at first with the shimmies because I felt like I was now tilting left, when in fact I was standing straight up.

Sean says that more than half of Americans have one leg at least a bit shorter than the other, but not quite as drastic as mine was. It could've been because of the way my lower left leg healed itself after I broke it in a motorcycle accident when I was 17 or I could've been born this way. Whatever the reason, I'm deeply grateful and happy about this new chapter in my life and am again able to exercise with full potential!

I'm going for a jog in an hour, and I can't express the relief I feel that afterward, I will feel only the exhilaration of all those fuzzy endorphins.

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