What a PAIN! Literally.
Originally I had a different topic in mind for today’s blog, but my current week shifted my focus. Actually, it shifted my entire physical being. On Monday morning, as I was preparing to leave for the day, I wanted to do one more thing. I bent down and twisted, and it happened. I absolutely, positively torqued something in my lower back. Of course I have had periodic tightness and soreness in my lower back—I’ve been practicing full time dentistry for 10 years now—but I have never in my life had breathtaking pain.
Being the eternal optimist I believed that once I got moving and working, I would feel fine. Alas, no such luck. In fact, the more I moved, the worse I felt. I didn’t even attempt to sit to perform dentistry. Luckily for me, my schedule was 8-2 straight through and all operative was with UR quad or anterior. It was no small miracle that I wasn’t doing a double prep on #14 and #15 on the patient that can’t lean back or open more than 2cm.
By midday there was still no improvement. I began arguing with myself. Should I bail on the very important meeting I have set for 5 p.m. tonight and go to the chiropractor? Or do I wait and see? I mean, after all, it has worked so well for all those patients who believe their small cavities can wait, right?
Looking forward to the week ahead, I could see that my schedule was set to be busy and productive (a positive). I also saw that my schedule didn’t allow much time for me to sneak to the chiropractor until Friday afternoon (a negative). I hesitated to make a decision until the office manager explained it to me “You understand this isn’t going to get better on its own and you are not useful in the shape you are in. Get into the chiropractor and I will reset the 5 p.m. meeting.” I, stubbornly, didn’t want to be the reason that this meeting was put off once again. But the increasing pain in my back dictated she was right, as usual…
I discussed it with my partner, and he agreed as we joked about the physical demands of dentistry. (We also laughed that we should both being working on our core muscles regularly.) I had fallen victim to the notion that I would not be slowed by a physical limitation. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my life.
At home after the adjustment, I iced and loaded up on NSAIDs. I was certain this torture would get better soon. It had to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until midday Wednesday that I felt semi-human, the smile that I was sporting was genuine again, I felt like a laugh was tolerable. Have you realized that your back is involved when you have a hearty belly laugh? It is! Though time will tell if I will be a habitual offender, my hope is that it will be another decade before I feel this pain again. I fear, though, that the frequency and intensity will be sooner and greater than I desire. For now, I am making it through.
Outside of regaining needed core strength, what else should I do to make certain I am not a victim to the L5S1 pain I have been enduring this week?
Colleen DeLacy, DDS, FAGD