Last week I went to see an Osteopath for the first time. I’ve been wanting to see a Chiropractor or something similar for years but never had the money and was nervous about getting there and back on my own.
If you have M.E or another energy draining illness, then you know how exhausting it is to simply hold yourself upright. I spend most of my life lying down, reclining, or leaning forward and supporting the weight of my skull on my hands. So as you can imagine, my muscles have weakened, my posture is horrendous and now my joints are not sitting as they should. Side note: it’s amazing how much damage being sedentary can do to you very quickly.
So it’s always been something that I’ve considered should be part of my treatment/management plan, but it’s not something that is readily available on the NHS since it’s still considered an ‘alternative medicine’. However, after the incident with my neck over Christmas, I’d been living with chronic headaches and a worsening feeling that my neck was just not right. I felt as though at any moment I could turn to look at something, and my neck would seize or crack or something, and I’d be in that agony again. Then I started getting daily neck pain too and that was the final straw for me.
I had contacted the Osteopath in question before our latest lockdown, but when the infection rates started rising again I cancelled my appointment and decided to wait for safer times. But the urgency for my neck to be treated was becoming too much for me to ignore, and I had received my first vaccine, meaning that I was more protected than before (roughly 60% efficacy after the first dose), so I decided to go for it.
The Osteopath was very nice and let my fiancée stay in the room with us too. I didn’t think that this would be allowed but was grateful for it because I have a general anxiety about people touching me, so it was nice to have the moral support (not so nice for him though, the sound of cracking bones makes him nauseous, so I was grateful that he stayed too). But I needn’t have worried, the Osteopath was very professional and asked my permission every time he laid hands on me. He was very young, which made me uncomfortable about my age, but that’s not his fault, and he clearly knew what he was doing.
The experience itself was interesting. Although I knew what to expect and had seen it done on others, it doesn’t really prepare you for the sensation of having your joints adjusted by another person. I knew I would get the best results if I could convince my body to fully relax, but even that was more difficult than I expected. When you have a chronic illness, being in control of your own body become imperative, so being able to go limp and allow someone else to manipulate me is not something that comes easily, and my body resisted. The clicks he got out of my lower neck were subtle but effective. I’m a person who clicks and cracks all the time anyway, just by moving and existing, so I’m used to big, clunky cracks in my joints. What I experienced during this session was tiny, barely audible, baby clicks, but the relief and amount of movement restoration was surprisingly disproportionate.
Immediately after I got home, I felt general muscle soreness (at a completely manageable level) and total exhaustion. I’m not sure how much of the exhaustion was due to the session and how much was from being out in the world for longer than usual, but either way I went and had a ‘nap’ that lasted two or three hours. When I woke, my neck felt so much better. I felt like I had full range of motion back and I wasn’t afraid of hurting myself anymore. It felt like everything was back as it should be. I wouldn’t say it was the best it’s ever felt, but it was as it was before the Christmas incident, and that was more than enough for me. I wanted to wait a few days to see if my body would accept these changes gracefully, before making a final decision about whether the treatment was beneficial or not. My body usually takes two days to react to any kind of exercise, illness, medication, or other physical change, so I knew that just because I felt good right away, that didn’t mean I would continue to feel good. But I did. I did have a little extra fatigue and I found that as my neck got used to sitting in the correct position again, it referred some of its usual pain to my traps and shoulders, but the pain faded and my neck still feels good.
The Osteopath had told me that he’d worked on people with Fibromyalgia before so was being gentle with me and not doing too much so that we could see how I reacted before doing any more work. I am definitely considering going back and having him take a look at my scapula’s, maybe take away some of the pain I get from slouching all day and leaning on things when I stand and walk.
Overall then, a very pleasant experience for me. Of course not all treatments work for all people, but I’m glad that I finally got the chance to try this one out and I would recommend trying it if you’re curious.