I started seeing Dr. Besecker just a few months ago and before visiting him I'd been experiencing lower back pain for about 16 years. It started out with me going to my family doctor while in middle school and him dismissing the pain as nothing more than a back muscle strain since I was young, active, and therefore assumed to be healthy. Ibuprofen and the muscle relaxer Flexeril were prescribed. My parents and I had no reason to think my family doctor was wrong with his diagnosis and when the pain got better I was relieved. Unfortunately for me this was the beginning of a war on back pain that I was not equipped properly to fight as the pain relief was merely temporary. Through the years the pain would always come back when I ran out of prescription-strength Ibuprofen and Flexeril. My doctor had me start physical therapy and after a few months of going two to three times a week with zero improvement in my pain, I gave up.
I was then prescribed stronger pain medication. This had no effect. I was sent to a specialist in sports medicine who ordered x-rays and diagnosed me with spondylitis, a form of arthritis directly affecting the spine. I was thrilled to finally have an answer for what was causing the pain, but without a solution on how to cure it or stop the pain i was severely disheartened. The specialist prescribed Vicodin for me and just like all the other medications it didn't diminish the pain at all. The specialist then tried oxycodone, OxyContin, and just about every other severe pain killer available, but they didn't have any lasting positive effect either. Once again I was sent to physical therapy with the positive thinking that maybe I just needed to give it another try. Nope. It didn't help at all and just resulted in me wasting a lot of time and money.
At that point in my journey I was about 25 years old and had nearly given up hope. My pain level was so bad that I was literally having trouble getting out of bed, had to roll out onto my floor and had to have my mother help me get dressed because my back hurt too much to bend over to pick up my clothes, let alone put on my pants. I found out through a friend about a clinical research study that was being done on lower back pain so I inquired about it and actually qualified to be a participant. After going through a double-blind trial I was given actual pain medication that was a new opioid to help with my pain. While it did help, I felt uneasy taking an opioid because I knew there was a risk of addiction and also knew the medication hadn't been approved as safe by the FDA yet. All and all though, the medication only temporarily masked the pain and gave me some undesirable side effects like headaches and nausea.
So I went back to the doctor who had replaced my childhood family physician to express my unhappiness and lack of success with my treatments to this point. He referred me to a pain management specialist who was very intelligent and thoughtful, but his treatments were fairly invasive. I consented to having very long thin needles put into my spine to have steroids injected in an attempt to reduce the inflammation in my low back and help with my pain. I had this done twice. When this didn't work the specialist suggested another procedure where basically those long needles would be inserted into my back again, but this time they would be heated up so that the surrounding inflamed tissue would be cauterized and burned away. After having this third procedure done I concluded that this was the worst medical decision I'd ever made. I was in so much pain that I couldn't even sleep in my own bed because laying down literally made me cry and scream in pain. I spent almost a month sleeping on my couch, sitting up, while waiting for the pain specialist to tell me the next step. That's when I was referred to Dr. Besecker.
I was skeptical going in. Being that I was a medical student I had pretty much been told by everyone that chiropractors weren't "real doctors" and that they just cracked backs and caused more harm than good. At this point though everything else had failed and so I was trying to be open minded because clearly the other doctors weren’t able to help me so I had nothing left to lose. On the first appointment Dr. Besecker examined me and my range of movement. When he asked me if I had ever had x-rays done while standing up and bending forward and backward I knew that he was on to something. He took some x-rays and sent me to the local hospital to have additional images taken there. When he got the results back he confirmed what had been missed for my 28 years on this earth. I had a condition called Spondylolisthesis, caused by a defect in my L5 vertebra called Spina Bifida Occulta. This was allowing my vertebra to slip back and forth when I moved. There was nothing in my medical records that mention this, but all the signs were there. Dr. Besecker was the first medical professional to actually put EVERYTHING together. Then we began working on some precise exercises and techniques to target my affected spinal areas and reduce the pain. He also used this "jackhammer" tool on my spine and another tool to break up some of the scar tissue. I was pessimistic at first, but I couldn't believe the world of difference it made in just a couple weeks. He was also able to tell I had a weak ankle issue (without me mentioning it even once) and helped me restore an immense amount of strength and stability to my ankles by breaking up the scar tissue that I didn't know I had! It's been a few months since my first visit to Dr. B's office and I still can't believe my progress. I wouldn't say that I'm completely pain-free, but I no longer have to take pain medication on a daily basis. I can actually walk around without feeling a horrible pulling feeling in my lower back and bending over doesn't hurt anymore. This completely blows my mind that the least invasive practices of a chiropractor have done more for me than all of the other scary procedures and harsh medications I've taken before combined. I wish more physicians knew how amazing chiropractors can be and didn't send their patients off to see expensive specialists with brutal and wastful procedures like mine did. If I had known about Dr. Besecker earlier and in general trusted chiropractors as a whole I could have had an entirely different outlook on life as a teenager and young adult. I know every person and medical condition is different, but I can't stress enough how much I'd recommend visiting a chiropractor before resorting to more invasive specialists if you are experiencing joint pain or muscle weakness.