When Susan first came to see me, I was taken aback by her regal, patrician looks. An elegant woman in her late eighties, she had a younger woman’s trim figure, but the aching back more characteristic of her age. She had been referred to me by an orthopedist who, uncharacteristically, called me before her appointment to brief me on her case and make sure that I would “take good care of her.”
Naturopathy, chiropractic, herbs, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, biofeedback, hypnosis, homeopathy, deep breathing exercises, and acupuncture, to name a few. When I went to medical school some forty years ago, the words alternative, complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine were unknown. There was no such thing as “mind-body” medicine. In fact, practitioners of Western medicine looked with disdain, even hostility, at those practitioners of complementary modalities. Most of this attitude stemmed from ignorance.
The image above represents a real patient of mine. You don’t want to end up like this.
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Mrs. Z had a work-related injury and developed low back pain. She failed all conservative therapies and was then referred to a surgeon. This particular surgeon typified too many surgeons out there—the ones I call Dr. Shuffle. These doctors perform one surgical procedure after another to address a house of falling cards. And it almost always turns out badly.
SURGERY, AND MORE SURGERY…
The following is excerpted and adapted from Ending Back Pain.
The odd sensation started in her lower back, a little to the right. An avid runner, Kathryn chalked it up to her long jaunt that morning down to the beach and back. She popped some ibuprofen to try to settle the dull sensation. The feeling resembled one of a pinched or agitated nerve, and she assumed this could be another sciatic episode. Or perhaps she had strained a muscle. Whatever it was, she didn’t think twice about her growing discomfort and lower back’s tenderness. If she worried about anything, it was that this escalating soreness would disrupt her run the next morning, and she’d have to take a few days off. By bedtime, she sensed that something wasn’t right. She took another round of ibuprofen and decided that a good long sleep—off her feet—would be the cure.