The very first day Hubby owned a brand new Yamaha 1100cc V-Star motorcycle, he practiced a life-saving technique that every motorcycle owner hopes never to have to utilize – dropping the bike sideways to avoid colliding with a careless driver who cut him off. Hubby was extremely fortunate to take the bike down on the left, rather than right, where he’d likely have burned his flesh right down to the bone via the exhaust pipe. Instead, he ruptured every surface blood vessel from his left shoulder down to his ankle, while skidding 300 feet along the pavement. Hubby didn’t realize until years later that the incident was the beginning of an avalanche of back trouble.
Two-point-five years afterward, as my very tall husband climbed into his Pontiac, he slipped and plopped clumsily onto the driver’s seat, jolting his left hip. A day later he was in pain, and by the third day, sciatic pain was so severe that he could no longer lift his left leg to climb steps. His doctor referred him to an orthopedic specialist, who prescribed pain medication and told Hubby he’d eventually require back surgery. Over my dead body!
Our next consult was with a chiropractor. Upon evaluation, the doctor informed my husband that one leg was almost two inches shorter than the other because his back was so seriously misaligned and asked what injuries he’d sustained. Hubby reported falling into the car, but Doc said that wouldn’t cause this kind of damage… only aggravate it. So Hubby mentioned the motorcycle incident. Turns out his spine was knocked out of alignment then, and his body compensated for years via incorrect muscle retraining. Now his crooked spine was pressuring the sciatic nerve, sending shooting pains from his back down his thigh.
Natural Remedies for Back Pain
The misalignment was so severe that Hubby required daily chiropractic adjustments for a week, greatly alleviating the pain. By week two, he reduced visits to every other day, and by the end of a month, he was seeing Doc twice a week, as his body was being retrained with proper alignment.
Activity returned to normal. Hubby required only occasional adjustments, typically after spending hours crammed in cattle-class airplane seating. Then in 2007, after a long flight from the US to Tel Aviv, his back was quite bothersome. Exploring downtown Tiberius, we spotted a billboard with a large spine on display. Hubby doesn’t read Hebrew well and assumed the spine was an advertisement for a chiropractor.
We met a brilliant practitioner, but to our surprise, Samuel’s specialty wasn’t chiropractic. His skill was an alternative spine treatment invented in Israel called Feldenkrais. The technique, named after its inventor, physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, is defined as “a system designed to promote bodily and mental well-being by conscious analysis of neuromuscular activity via exercises that improve flexibility and coordination, and increase ease and range of motion.”
Translated, you re-educate your body via specific exercises to move efficiently and comfortably in any environment. Hubby found immediate relief and attended a second session before we left Tiberius. Samuel recommended finding a feldenkrais practitioner at home to reinforce what was learned.
What we really like about feldenkrais is that eventually, you no longer depend on practitioners for treatment. You learn to treat yourself and keep your body fine-tuned. We were amazed to find a feldenkrais practitioner in Toronto. Hubby went a few Saturday mornings to brush up on techniques and remained literally pain free for years… until he graduated from work and got serious about golf.
When my husband decides to play a sport, there’s no halfway… or even merely good. He goes full throttle, headfirst, and doesn’t come up for air. In golf, that translates to thousands of swings per month, wreaking havoc with the hips and back when swings go astray. He actually managed to sprain an ankle, twisting it while swinging, but that’s another story.
While vacationing in Belize in March, Hubby experienced sciatic nerve pain again, which apparently had been bothersome for weeks. He didn’t tell me until the intensity reached a level too uncomfortable to keep to himself. Being jolted and tossed during a three-hour journey over a rugged dirt road in a shaky, 50-year old bus certainly didn’t help, but that was the only route to the jungle spa where we’d booked the first few nights of our adventure.
Ten days later on Ambergris Caye, Hubby was miserable, and even feldenkrais wasn’t helping. While discussing his dilemma with fellow hotel guests over rum cocktails at the pool, several raved about a Chinese medicine practitioner in San Pedro, Belize named Master Lee, and told us how to find him.
When Hubby showed up for his consult, Master Lee didn’t ask what was wrong. He directed my husband to lie on a table, where he “listened to” every muscle from the neck down to the feet and began the most intense massage I’ve ever witnessed. Master Lee climbed atop the table and applied his full weight to specific back and hip muscles. The pressure was exhausting, as evidenced by Hubby’s lasting tortured expression. Then Master utilized cupping (which I’d never seen before), positioning at least a dozen cups in strategic areas on the back, hips and thighs. Ten minutes later he asked Hubby to flip over and began applying similar massage pressure to the left knee, which nearly caused my husband to pass out. Hubby had endured four surgeries on that knee many decades prior, to repair football injuries.
When Master Lee finished treatment, my husband’s back pain was reduced by 90%, and he was advised to return for one final treatment. Master Lee never asked about the knee… He told Hubby it had sustained repeated injury and that for a lifetime he’d been favoring it, throwing muscles and spine out of synch. We were astounded that Master Lee diagnosed this without knowing the first thing about Hubby’s history. Despite practicing naturopathic wellness more than 35 years, I constantly acquire new life-changing knowledge.
Most people will follow the orthopedic doctor’s advice and stay doped up on pain meds until eventual surgical butchering. Then, once you allow someone to cut your back, it can never be fully restored to proper function. We’re so fortunate to have discovered natural wellness early in life and will always adhere to alternative medical philosophies for genuine healing.
(Please feel free to leave comment or ask a question about safely healing an injured back.)