What does your spinal diagnosis say about you?

44785944 - attractive woman with back pain at home in the bedroomWhat does your spinal diagnosis say about you?  

There are hundreds of official diagnoses when it comes to spinal conditions.  People are most familiar with low back pain, disc herniations, cervical or lumbar radiculopathies, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and arthritis of the spine.  Each one of these has a different mechanism for how it shows up in the body.  The aim of modern medicine is to determine which condition is present based on signs and symptoms so that proper procedure can be performed.

People with spinal conditions often turn to a chiropractor when they 1) don’t want to have a surgery that their physician has recommended or 2) their medical doctor has told them that there is nothing else they can do for them except for pain medications.

One of the reasons that chiropractors are successful at helping people in these situations is because we look at the entire spinal system, not just where it hurts or has a “problem”.  We also evaluate the biomechanics of the spine, posturing, behaviors, thoughts and emotions that contribute to what is showing up in your spine.

There are no quick fixes.  Even if you choose to have a spinal surgery, if you don’t simultaneously make some changes in your life, your situation will likely not improve.  I believe this is one reason why so many back surgeries are unsuccessful.  Secondly, when you fuse or alter one part of the spine it will produce changes in how other parts of the spine function, which is why people often develop pain in previously asymptomatic areas of the spine after a spinal surgery.

How can something so gentle and non-invasive help?

Debunking the force myth 

We tend to think that if something physical is expressing in our body than we need something really physical to fix it.  There is also the idea that the more aggressive we are in our approach the more likely we will be at getting rid of it.  In this way of thinking the more force, aggression, doing or invasiveness = better results.

A-P-103Have you ever had the experience when you were trying to accomplish something, but you just couldn’t figure out how to do it?  You tried all your old ways of accomplishing, but nothing was working.  After exhausting yourself doing things and stressing out about it you talked with a friend to share your frustration and perhaps get some advice.  Your friend did not offer any advice but instead held an “invisible” space for you to talk while they listened.  At the end of the conversation you did not have an answer but you felt more spacious, clearer, and relaxed.  Your frustrations were heard.  The next day you went back to your project and saw a new perspective that you had not seen before, and alas you made some forward progress.

Your body works in much the same way.  When someone is present with your body, without trying to fix it, your body changes how it functions, postures and holds itself.  Chiropractic may be less aggressive and forceful than surgery or chemical alteration through pharmaceuticals, however when applied with presence its effects are much more profound.  The amount of presence you have in any endeavor is inversely proportionally to the amount of force you need.  The spine and nervous system respond to presence and the body will self-organize, self-regulate and self-heal when in the presence of presence.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, DC, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration

Symptoms: Your Body’s Reorganizational Wisdom

What if your back pain wasn’t just this annoying symptom that you wanted to get rid of? What if it held inside of it the wisdom you needed to become the next better version of you? What if your low energy, mood swings, irritability, headaches, allergies, etc. are telling you that something needs to change in your life? Would you want to learn how to listen to your body’s reorganizational wisdom and make that change or would you choose to ignore it, get rid of it and stay the same?

Unfortunately all too frequently we choose the later. Something goes “wrong” in the way our body is expressing and our first instinct is to get rid of the “problem.” There is an underlying disconnect in our culture between our body and our life. We believe that if our body is expressing itself in unhealthy ways that it is our body’s fault and we go to address the physical structure to correct the dysfunction.

What symptom and disease expression really is, is the body’s attempt to reorganize itself. It means that way your life and body has been functioning no longer works. You need an upgrade so you are destabilizing. Think about when you get a new computer and how fast and well it works. Overtime, if you didn’t upgrade your software programs then your computer would slow down and malfunction. It needs an upgrade. Your body works in a similar fashion. If you don’t upgrade your system then your system slows down and malfunctions. We label this disease.

Destabilization is necessary in order to allow something new to replace it. Back to the computer example above. Let’s say you have an old computer from 1992 and it still works. It never broke down per say, it still turns on and off, you connect via dial-up and it’s slow but you don’t really notice.   It sits on your desk because it is too large and heavy to move. You cannot communicate with any of your friends on chatting systems or send word documents out because your software is incompatible with the newer versions that everyone else has. With all of that said you don’t really notice because it is the same computer that you have been using for 20 years and it still works. If it did breakdown (destabilize) or it quit turning on then you might notice and you would be faced with the decision to upgrade to a newer, more advanced model or to try to fix up the older model. You might try to fix it up once or twice, but it keeps having new problems and eventually you need to upgrade.

Your can think of the body the same way. You can fix it up a few times, meaning take a pain medication to numb the pain or have a surgery to fix the problem, but if you don’t upgrade you then that same energy and out of date software that created the dysfunction in the first place will create new dysfunction and there is a downward spiral to disease and illness.

There is great reorganizational wisdom in how our body expresses symptoms. Symptoms are our body’s little messengers and when we utilize them instead of get rid of them they can be incredible sources of fuel for creating change and sharing our gifts and selves with the world in ways that are important to us. It is simply a matter of how long we wait to make the change that our body is telling us that we need to make. We don’t always know “what to do” or “how to change” or “what is required of us.” Sometimes we are simply too overloaded by life stressors that we can’t pay attention even if we wanted too. Most people haven’t developed the skill set to learn to listen to our body and make the connections between our body and life.

We must start the process exactly where we are, which isn’t necessarily always where we want to be. It is in being with “I have ‘xyz’ and I don’t like it, want it or don’t know what to do about it.” This begins the exploration and the process of reclaiming and reorganizing your body, life and health.

Amanda Hessel, D.C., M.S., L.Ac