Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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Kaiser Permanente. @whee

Back in November, my back started to hurt a bit. I discussed it a bit in prior journal entries. My Kaiser doctor, Lisa Kroonen, did a carpal tunnel test, and oh brother was it positive. But the hand-braces did nothing to reduce the pain and numbness, and disturbed my sleep - I tend to have 'kitty paws' when I sleep, that is, curling my palm towards my elbow. Bad for the carpal nerves.

In April it was so bad that my arm was numb, and I'd found that my right upper arm was actually smaller than the left - an indicator of nerve impingement, since I'm right-handed. I decided that Kaiser was useless, and asked a friend who has a very good chiropractor for a referral.

I went to Dr. Fenn Bourland. He doesn't do 'spinal manipulations' - his x-rays showed a serious postural problem, his thermal scan of my back showed definite inflammation. He treated me with acupressure, deep laser (the kind they use on burn patients to stimulate regeneration), and massage. Over the course of three weeks, the pain went from '8' - constant, impeded action, tended to override whatever I was trying to do - down to 3 - ignorable, intermittent, still impeded action.
However, Dr. Bourland's treatments were not covered, and having no job, they were a bit too expensive to continue. I got a referral from Kaiser to their chiropractic network (after showing Dr. Kroonen what the x-rays showed) and they authorized three visits. Yes, three. Beancounters, cost is much more important than therapeutic efficacy.

Dr. Ringsage was the only one on the Kaiser network that Dr. Bourland trusted.
He's a very nice guy, but he only did 'activation' work (one of the gentler techniques that Dr. Bourland used) and used TENS instead of massage. Still, I went from a 3 to a 2, and then over the following few weeks, to a 1, pain-wise.
I've currently got intermittent numbness, a bit of pain in the neck and shoulders sometimes, and it's very posture-dependent.

At Dr. Ringsage's request, after a series of uninformative X-Ray images (fewer and at much more limited angles than at Dr. Bourland's office) I had an MRI friday last. This disclosed that I have a bit of overgrown bone on one side of the C6 vertebra, with possibly a bit of disc protruding there, and that it might well be impinging on the right c6 nerve. No spinal involvement, thankfully.

So what fixed things? Well, first, the chiropractic treatments helped fix the posture problems. Second, treating the actual cause rather than the symptom, which unfortunately Dr. Kroonen was trying to do. We replaced our waterbed with a ComfortAire (similar to the Select Air 'sleep number' system, but ComfortAire was the original from which Select Air spun off, and since they don't do telemarketing, they only cost half as much.)

Oh yeah, and, deliberately, methodically stretching the neck and shoulders has become mandatory rather than 'when I remember'.

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