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My chiropractic visit

By David Coory

I’ve always been somewhat skeptical regarding chiropractors. I’d never been to one and heard mostly negative reports involving endless appointments.

Last year, a Dr Mercola video caught my eye. He was interviewing a young chiropractor who felt sure, after seeing Dr Mercola on TV, that he had a misalignment problem in his neck.

Dr Mercola travelled some distance to see this chiropractor, and there was a misalignment of his neck. The chiropractor devised some weights for him to wear on his head to correct the problem.

As I watched the interview, I was impressed with the honesty and confidence of this young man. He advised viewers that a good sign of a competent chiropractor was that they will first take a spinal X-ray.

I decide to have a spinal check-up

I thought, if a competent chiropractor did a spinal check-up on myself, I could then write an article on the results. I didn’t have any back or neck pain but I’m getting on in age, 73 this year.

So I located a chiropractic practice in Tauranga with an X-ray machine and phoned for an appointment. To my surprise, the chiropractor declines when I mention I plan to write an article on my experience. I try the only other local chiropractic practice with an X-ray machine and the same thing happens. The woman explains that chiropractors often get bad press. Maybe my skepticism was valid.

I find a chiropractor

A few months later, my wife Marie takes me to a local Home Show. There I meet a sincere young lady chiropractor from a local chiropractic practice (without an X-ray machine). I mention the difficulty I had in getting an appointment and she readily agrees to give me a full chiropractic spinal check. She’s also happy for me to write an article about my experience. Her name is Dr Krista Riddell.

My first check-up – a shortened leg

At my appointment the following week I fill out a health history form and then Krista gives me a spinal thermal scan. This device measures heat differences on either side of the spine to detect inflammation. It indicates a minor problem with the left side of my neck and the mid-section of my spine.

I then lie face down on a bench for a spinal examination and Krista says that my right leg is about 1cm shorter than my left leg. This is not totally surprising – for some years now, when I do my morning exercises, one of which includes 25 hip swivels in both directions, my right leg feels shorter than the left. She says it could be due to a sacrum misalignment but I don’t understand what that means.

Krista then examines my whole spine and can feel some swelling and inflammation on the left side of my neck. She writes me a referral for a ‘full standing spinal X-ray’.

My spinal X-ray experience

I go to Bay Radiology, but their machine is too small to do a full-length spinal X-ray – they would have to do three, and stitch them together (cost $380). They say only Grace Hospital has a machine big enough.

So I drive there and two radiologists are able to do it straight away ($280). I have to strip to my underwear, put on a robe and stand backwards toward the X-ray machine, and then sideways for a second shot. They give me a CD of the X-rays and say they’ll send one to Krista along with their report.

When I get home and check the two X-rays on my computer, I’m surprised how grey and blurry they are. Not clear and colourful like the ones on the baggage X-rays at airports.

Krista examines my X-ray

A week later I return to Krista. She’s studied my X-rays with a grid pattern over the top to check for any misalignment. She tells me there is clearly a sign of an old injury in the middle of my spine. (I can't recall anything but later my wife Marie reminds me of being dragged by the stirrup from a galloping horse at a cousin’s farm some 35 years ago when the saddle slipped down sideways and I painfully injured a rib.)

Krista also points out that my bottom vertebrae, L5 has only a narrow disc space remaining. See Image (A). The report said this is ‘age related’.

Also the curvature of my neck and upper back is a little over pronounced (ie, round shouldered, from too much reading and study). All the other disc spaces are good and the ones in my neck are excellent.

My right leg instantly lengthened 1cm

She confirms her earlier diagnoses of a 1cm shorter right leg, and says it’s due to a slight rightward twist of my lower spine which is tilting my right hip bone (pelvis) upward, and pulling the right leg up with it. See Image (B). This spine twist was also noted in the radiology report.

Krista said this is all due to a misalignment of the sacrum and is called a ‘vertebral subluxation’ which she can fix. She does this with some heavy adjustment to my lower back using a ‘drop table’. As soon as I stand up I feel the difference – both legs now feel the same length. I am very pleased with this and feel I need to repent of my former skepticism of chiropractors.

She also adjusts my neck and the old injury to my central spine. The visit costs me $50. The first visit, the previous week was free. Krista tells me to take a brisk 10 minute walk when I get home, to stabilise the lower back manipulation and to drink plenty of water.

Everything is fine for two weeks and my legs feel great

Then Marie and I fly to Tonga for a wedding and stay five days with no exercise. When I returned to my morning swivel exercise, I noticed the familiar feeling of my right leg being shorter.

Leg readjusted and it holds this time

At my follow-up appointment with Krista a few days later, she immediately detects that my leg and central spinal injury has reverted to its previous condition. My neck is still holding perfectly.

Krista adjusts and correctly aligns the tilt of my hip (pelvic) bones, and also the central spine injury, and suggests I take a long walk before driving home, to help hold the adjustment. Cost $50.

Three weeks later I have a final check and find my leg length has held to within 2mm. A final adjustment corrects it.

Now, if I detect a slight imbalance, I stretch hard backwards and touch my toes 20 times, which immediately corrects it.

So thank you Krista, for giving me faith in what can be achieved by a caring chiropractor.