Spinal Repair

[originally published in KCN, July 1999]

You could say it was business as usual at my office the other day.  The day was playing out like most any other day.  In other words, I was having a great day!  Three patients were comfortably seated in the reception area enjoying their reading selections, while I was helping a patient reschedule her next appointment.  And then it happened…  Kerplunk!  Everyone froze.  What was that?  The noise had come from my treatment room.   A troubled look came over my face, for  no one was in the treatment room.  I slowly made my way towards the area from whence the sound had come  as my patients waited, wide-eyed with anticipation.  As I peered around the wall, I quickly spotted the noisy culprit.  Like a ripe apple falling from its tree, one of the bones of my trusty plastic model spine that I use daily for patient education purposes, had seen its final day, as it was overcome by the force of gravity and plummeted to the ground.  I had no idea that this would happen.  After all, my model spine never complained of any telltale symptoms that this particular demise was on the horizon.   Let’s face it, I had taken this wonderful patient teaching aide for granted, thinking it was virtually indestructible.  And now, it lay there broken.

So where does a chiropractor take a broken model spine?  Well, to the ER of Model Spines of course!  I know, no such facility exists.  So I headed off to the next best place.  With my spine in arm, I headed downtown to Kingston Nautical Supply.  Now I’m pretty confident in saying that this was probably a first for Dick Nowalk, but he rose to the occasion like any skilled  plastic model spine surgeon would.  With a dab of forethought, and a little trial and error, I’m pleased to say that my model spine is going to be okay.

It’s too bad real spines can’t be fixed just as easily.  Believe me, if they could, Dick would have a line out his door longer than the ferry line on a Sunday summer evening.  While medical technology has made enormous leaps and bounds in the past 50 years, it hasn’t stumbled across a way to swap out your old spine and replace it with a new one like it has with so many other organs.  Nope.  Gotta make do with what you have in this department.  So, of course the best stance to take  is proactive (preventing problems) rather than reactive (fixing problems).  It’s unfortunate, but when it comes to priorities, health isn’t usually tops on most of our lists.  Keeping our cars in good shape usually pulls rank.

So what can we do to keep our spines purring like our finely tuned automobiles?  There are several things for starters.

repair-fuelNumber one:  Use good fuel. Ever put lousy gasoline in your car?  Then you know what I mean.  Just as your car depends on quality fuel, so does your spine, and body for that matter.   Try focusing your shopping trips around the perimeter of the supermarket, and decrease your trips through the drive-thru’s.  Oh, and don’t forget to add water to your list.  Increasing this often neglected essential fluid can really do wonders for your overall health.  Don’t know how much you should be drinking?  Take your weight and divide by two.  This is the number of ounces you should be drinking per day.

Women in exercise classNumber two:  Get out there and move! Our spines thrive on movement.  As a matter of fact, they depend on it for their very survival.  Just as the parts of your car would begin to rot and rust after being locked in a garage for months on end, without movement the cartilage-like pads between the vertebrae in our spines begin to dry out — setting into motion the degenerative process of osteoarthritis.  Don’t wait until the New Year to join a health club.  This doesn’t have to be complicated.  Doing something as simple as walrepair-postureking 20 minutes a day can be very beneficial for your spine.

Number three:  Watch your posture. Just as proper tire alignment is important with your automobile, so is proper posture for your spine.  While you may not pay for it now, poor posture will come back to haunt you 50,000 miles later.  With poor posture abnormal stresses are placed on the spine, creating areas of excessive wear and tear.   So keep your head high and shoulders back.  Don’t be afraid to strut your stuff.

Number four:  Get a good night’s sleep. Adequate sleep is very important Bedroom Portraitfor outstanding spinal health.  Among many other things, it gives your spine a chance to recuperate from the compressive forces of gravity.  Make sure your sleep arrangements are spinal friendly though.  Choose a mattress that provides enough support and does not sag.  Your pillow should cradle your head and support your neck so it is in line with the rest of your spine.  And as far as your car is concerned, carports work well.

SpineNumber five:  Get regular chiropractic checkups! Just as you depend on your mechanic to help you keep all the parts of your car working in harmony with regular tuneups, your chiropractor is an essential asset to keeping your spine “tuned.”  By keeping all the vertebrae in your spine in line and moving properly, not only will you be doing your spine a favor, but also your nervous system which is encased in the spinal column.  And with a properly functioning nervous system, your body will just simply “run” better.

Whether you’re looking to keep your spine running like new, or  you need to restore one that is a bit more classic, your chiropractic doctor is ready and willing to help.  He or she can offer you guidance in implementing the strategies mentioned above.  Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for a good model spine surgeon, Dr. Nowalk has my recommendation.

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