Thursday, April 18, 2013

When Crunchy is Not Frugal, or: Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Any of you who have been reading me for any length of time know that I have some light crunchy tendencies. I say light because, while they often seem heavy to people around me, they are actually pretty light compared to people who use family cloth (just can't get myself there) or buy purely organic (we pick and choose), or even live on a self sustaining farm (yeah.... never happening). But you know that I lean toward the crunchy, holistic, back to nature type approach for a lot of things. So when I saw a chiropractor groupon, I felt like I had to try it. My mom has always sworn by a chiropractor, and I know that 'non-traditional medicine' can sometimes works better and/or differently than traditional medicine (and of course, sometimes not! I'm not an enemy of traditional medicine used properly). I think more traditional medicine types recognize chiropractic care as legit now, but there are still doctors and people who turn their nose up at it. But like I said, I just had to try it! I have read so much about it healing systemic body issues, and more obviously about it helping with back pain. I have chronic lower back pain and in the last 3 years since it started, I have been given more prescriptions for muscle relaxers and very strong pain relievers than you would believe.

So I headed to the office, a bit nervous that they would try to sell me something past the groupon. I just wanted my exam, xrays, and 3 adjustments and to be on my way. Haha, I'm not sure how I thought that would help! In the first visit, the nurse got a history on me, we geeked out over both using Creighton and Napro, and she did xrays. The doctor then came in and examined my spine. As he went down, he listed off issues I might have due to what he was feeling. This was before he had seen the info I had just given the nurse. She was in the room with me the whole time, holding those papers. He listed off 5 health conditions that I could have or could get due to the issues with my spine. What do you know? I have ALL of them. So at that point, I was a bit hooked.

I went back for my first adjustment, which was fairly boring. Not much to tell. Then my third appointment was called Doctor's Report where you sit in an educational session with a few other new patients before breaking off to find out what your xrays showed, the doctor's recommendations, and (gulp) the cost. That's what I was worried about, being the frugalista that I am. We learned really interesting things like how this chiropractor is the only one in the country with an engineering and sports medicine degree on top of chiropractic school. He is the team chiropractor for multiple local (university level) teams, as well as local Olympic teams. He does not work within insurance because insurance allows a set number of appointments that don't usually allow for healing, but he takes the amount that insurance usually covers off of the total cost. He offers free weekly seminars on spinal hygiene, good sleep habits, nutrition, etc. He travels to local elementary schools teaching kids about proper posture and how to protect their spine. And, unlike most chiropractors, he performs adjustments on all areas of the body, not just the spine. He covers neck to toes. One thing he said that I loved is that he has 5 kids and one child has had to be on antibiotics once... that's it. He attributes it to chiropractic care. What also helped him in my eyes is that he is very, very faithful. God comes out a lot in his practice. A few years ago, that might have bothered me. Now, it warms my heart and I'm impressed that he is that bold about his faith!

Ok, so all of that was exciting, but then came my xrays and recommendation. First, my neck is 42mm off where it should be, adding an extra 164 pounds of pressure to my lower back (ok... so that explains it!). That xray was sort of creepy to see because it was so bad! I have phase 1 sublaxation -where your vertebrae are pinching the nerves that tell the rest of your body what to do/how to function- in my neck and back, and phase 2 sublaxation in my tailbone. I could see on the xray that my disc was actually degenerating in the phase 2 spot. Phase 4 is only curable by surgery, so thankfully I didn't have any of that. (And just a side note: he said people often receive surgery for phase 2-3 issues when it can make them worse or not restore them, and they should be seeking chiropractic care instead. He had a personal story of how he chose chiropractic care for a football injury over recommended surgery and was totally healed. That's why he graduated with an engineering degree and went back to school to become a chiropractor!). My recommendation for care was 48 sessions, 3x/week for 8 weeks and 2x/week for 12 weeks. And (what you were probably waiting for since the title) to the tune of $1920. It is more expensive if you pay other than cash/check so we are opting for that.

I will tell you that I had a mini panic attack about taking the money out of our savings account. Our account is in a really good place and I just don't want to touch it! Steven, being the wonderful man he is, reminded me how important this is, and that we believe in it, from our research. So it hit me. If this is a natural alternative that I prefer to a life of pain and medication/symptom masking, with possible surgery in the future, then I have to put my money where my mouth is. It doesn't feel frugal now, but it will probably be frugal in the long run to pay this amount for 5 months of care versus endless copays, medication costs, specialist costs, and again, even surgery. And $40 per appointment with xrays, classes, and supplies included is really not bad. It's just that lump sump that is scary! He is right; I know it. But it's swallowing having to part with that amount as early as next week that gets me. They do have scholarship funds (they have a policy that they do not turn anyone away based on ability to pay) but we don't feel right getting help from that when we have the money and I just don't want to part with it. So I'm taking a deep breath and will pony up the money next week to start this journey of care. After my adjustment yesterday, I found it painful to NOT sit with correct posture (usually I experience the opposite)... it was refreshing! It was nice not feeling like a hunch back. We have a lot of work to do at home so that I make sure my body has the best chance of retaining the changes they are making, but I think it will be worth it.

Do any of you receive chiropractic care? What has been your experience with it?


  1. I've never been to a chiropractor, though I once met a Catholic one who sounds similar to your doctor; he'd been aligning his childrens' spines for years, and none of them had ever been sick! I consider myself "crunchy lite" and terrified of touching my savings account, too, but I totally agree that when you're convinced something will be a long-term health benefit and will truly help heal you, you should go for it! Can't wait to hear more about your sessions!

  2. I went to a chiropractor several times when David and I first got married and it was great. He also did acupuncture at every appointment. I stopped before I should have because we couldn't afford it any more but I would love to try it again when we do have the money.

  3. My mom went to a chiropractor when I was younger when she had a bad pain in her shoulder. She said it helped her but that was also in the 90s so idk much about it as I was like 10.

  4. I have used a Chiropractor since childhood. My four girls get regular adjustments and they don't seem to get sick like other kids. My chiro does a monthly membership for care. So it is kind of like a gym you pay and go as much as needed or pay and don't go. This is great I go every two weeks or so. When I slipped on ice I went twice a week for a couple weeks to get hips back unlined.

  5. This is so fascinating to me! I've been to a chiropractor a few times, but never consistently. For how much money it is, I think you're right, long term investment with long term payout. This might be too nosey, but do you think the adjustments will help with PCOS? As someone with the same ailment, I've wondered. Wish there was a chiropractor like yours in Houston!