I don't know why, but it has been BUSY in the clinic lately. Have all my patients conspired to get sore at the same time? Did you all get together to practice different ways of bending wrongly (is it just me, or does that word sound wrong?)? Was there a limbo party to which I wasn't invited? Has Twister made a comeback?
I'm happy to see you all... but what the hell is going on?!
I've noticed this before. The sudden influx of patients from time to time, all with similar complaints. I've been working on theories.
Theory 1 - a reason for every season
This theory is popular with patients. After every snowfall, I'm asked if I'm very busy these days, what with all the snow shoveling and slipping on ice. And yes, I do see more than a few injured shovellers, but do you know what happens when it is really, really, really cold and snowy out? People hibernate. Perhaps this is why I seem to treat more acute low backs in winter - if you're braving February cold to come in, you're gonna make sure you really need it.
Theory 2 - word of mouth
Say you came in with neck pain. And say I 'cured' said neck pain. You then tell your friends about the fabulous Dr. Fagen who fixed your neck pain, and they'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on... next thing you know, I'm up to my neck with neck patients.
Theory 3 - ancient chinese secret
When I studied acupuncture, I had the privilege of learning a bit of Chinese medicine theory. It is wonderfully complex and highly structured, and accounts for so many factors, including weather and seasons and energy and the universe. Each season correlates to a different meridian, which governs different organ systems and areas of the body. In the spring I often see shoulder and elbow problems. In the winter, stiffness and low back pain. These findings are explained well by Chinese medicine's 5 elements theory. Hey, a billion people can't be wrong...
Theory 4 - misremembering
Perhaps it is just me. Maybe I'm so eager to prove myself right, that when another acute neck patient shows up during an August heat wave I say A-HA!, but I don't think much of the same presentation any other time? It is possible, I have been wrong before. Once.
Theory 5 - conspiracy...
Who sent you in? Shoulder pain you say... what a coincidence. Why are you really here!!??
Theory 6 - Murphy's Law
The deluge of patients right before the Christmas holidays? The panicked calls in August, during peak vacation time? March break madness? If you've got somewhere important to be... stop in for an adjustment first!
The truth probably lies in the middle of this blog... (well except for the conspiracy theory part (unless you've got something to hide... in which case I'm on to you...)). We are more intimately connected to the earth and it's energies, weather and seasons included, than we realize. And our disconnections, like air conditioning and heating, affect us too, becoming part of our seasonal factors (not unusual for late summer stiff necks to be associated with sleeping under the air conditioner). Sports and activities affect us immensely, especially when we return after a hiatus. It's no wonder my hockey players all seem to ache in the preseason and my golfers will inevitably call me when the greens open. Stress certainly plays a part in pain, weakening the body to exacerbate an injury and making healing a longer ordeal.
Understanding your body means understanding your pain patterns. It is not unusual for an irregular patient (as in 'infrequent', not 'weird') to need treatment at the same time each year... spooky, no? We need to each know ourselves, to know what seasons are our hardest to navigate, to be body conscious when starting new sports and activities, to be able to identify the stresses and triggers to which we are vulnerable. And then prevent them from knocking us down - by stretching more/relaxing/seeking treatment/doing whatever gets you on your feet again.
The truth is out there. In the mean time, get your back treated, and help me with this most valuable research.