Sometimes you get to that last resort point when it comes to pain. Your doctor tells you that it’s time for surgery, but it’s a major endeavor. Recovery is long, surgery is intense, side effects and potential complications are scary.
All of that is a lot, but what if you’re also a recovering addict? Now you have to worry about medications and a relapse.
Sometimes it’s just too much, but as one patient found out, sometimes surgery isn’t your only option.
A recovering addict with chronic pain
Dr. James Schantz, DC met Tony* while giving a talk about chiropractic pain relief at an addiction recovery center. Speaking to a group of recovering addicts, he concluded his presentation with the offer to provide care, at least for the first month, at no charge to help these individuals out.
In his 50’s, Tony, had over 25 years of heroin addiction and chronic low back pain that was moderate to severe on a daily basis. His addiction began during the Vietnam War, while overseas, since the drug was cheap, easy to get, and extremely potent. His back pain was just one symptom of not properly caring for his body most of his life.
The doctor’s assessment
Using the VA for medical care, doctors told Tony his condition required multi-level spinal fusion. This major surgery involves a combination of fusing spinal bones, discs, and joints alongside implants of rods, bones, and screws. Recovery for Tony would be hard, and risks were higher than normal due to his poor health conditions.
Recovery would also mean a hospital stay, and pain medication, a real challenge for an addict. He’d need close monitoring in the hospital and at home. Medication would have to be administered by someone else and it would take 3-6 months at least to fully heal.
Not only that, but the surgery wouldn’t have any guarantee of permanently eliminating the back pain. According to Dr. Schantz’s research, 1 in 5 patients who have spine surgery need another surgery. That’s not so great if all you can take for pain, when you’re a recovering addict, is Tylenol.
The chiropractic alternative
When Tony arrived at Dr. Schantz’s office, the first thing was an x-ray. It was one of the worst Dr. Schantz had ever seen. There was severe curvature, disc degeneration, degenerative joint disease, and slippage of vertebrae.
Remaining consistent with his care, Tony visited Dr. Schantz once a week for eight weeks, and then a few additional times as needed for close to three months. Additional at-home back exercises were also taught to Tony.
Tony’s pain went from an 8-9 down to a 2-3 with chiropractic care. As his back pain levels dropped, he realized that surgery wasn’t necessary to feel better.
Dr. Schantz left Tony with an invitation to come back whenever his back stopped feeling good, or if anything changed. He never returned after his initial treatment.
The “last resort” isn’t always the end
Exploring alternative options for his back pain enabled Tony to discover how chiropractic care could help him avoid surgery. Seeing results beyond a patient’s expectations, like what happened here, always gives Dr. Schantz a great sense of satisfaction.
“I never think it’s me that’s doing it. Instead, I’m helping that person’s innate ability to recover their inner resources, to become unblocked, opening the door for their ability to heal to become fully realized.”
Hopefully, Tony’s lack of return visits, after his three months of treatment, meant he’d found a safer way to live with less chronic back pain as he continued down his road of addiction recovery.
*patient name changed for privacy.
To learn more about Schantz Chiropractic, schedule a visit, or get answers to frequently asked questions, visit roswellchiro.com.
Regular chiropractic care can help with a myriad of health conditions, including pain management.
Ask your chiropractor how regular spinal care fits into a healthy lifestyle.