Seven Years (Why I Became a Chiropractor)April 5, 2010 • By John Olsen
Seven years. That’s how long I lived with lower back pain.
It started my senior year of high school in weightlifting class. I was a pretty small dude and I wanted to bulk up some. I worked very hard in that class and did bulk up a little bit, at the expense of my back.
The pain was in the left side of my rear-end and radiated to the back part of my thigh, all the way to the knee. Sitting was excruciating. Bending was very limited. Standing up after being seated was a 5-minute ordeal. I was moving like an old man and I was only in my early 20’s!
I went to a walk-in medical clinic. The doc prescribed a muscle relaxer. It didn’t help. I went back. He prescribed a narcotic pain-killer and gave me a page of back stretches to do (which I found nearly impossible to perform). The pain- killer made me feel great at least while I was on the painkiller. Maybe a little too great. I found myself well on my way to becoming a narcotic addict. I went back to the doc and asked him if I should go to a chiropractor to which he responded “absolutely not! Chiropractors paralyze people!” I took the advice of this misinformed doctor and just lived in pain.
My first run-in with a chiropractor took place at church. I had gone on a two-week tour of Israel and one of the other tourists was the wife of a chiropractor. She became like a second-mom. I started hanging out with this family after church and even went to their house for Easter dinner (in 2000). It was on that day that Dr. Don noticed that I was walking with a limp. He said “I bet you have pain in the left butt and it goes down the back of your thigh about to your knee. . .” I was flat-out impressed that someone could figure that out just by seeing me walk. He invited me to come “hang out” in his office and see what chiropractic was all about.
To my amazement, I didn’t see anybody get paralyzed! I heard no screams. In fact, people actually felt better immediately after treatment without being high on drugs!
I decided it was worth a try. On my first visit as a chiropractic patient, I was so impressed with this doctor! He did a series of orthopedic and neurological tests and a set of x-rays. He showed me exactly what was wrong and told me what it would take to get me feeling better.
After two weeks of chiropractic treatment I was a new man! I had nearly full, pain-free range of motion in my lower back. He found some things in my neck that weren’t working quite right either and got that taken care of. (I just thought it was normal to have a very stiff neck and not be able to turn my head after sitting in the car for about 30 minutes) I was sleeping better because I could turn in bed without pain.
This was also a point in my life where I really needed to make a career choice. I was a psychology major in college and was pretty sure I didn’t want to be a psychologist. I was interested in medicine, but not that impressed with how conventional medicine treated me and my condition. The logical choice, then, was to become a chiropractor. I finished up some pre-med requirements, and off to Logan University in St. Louis, where I graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic just four years later!
I love doing what I do. Now I can tell people where they hurt just by watching them walk. Now I can alleviate most headache syndromes, help fathers and mothers regain their ability to lift their children into their arms again, get runners back in races, help students with tight necks and shoulders focus on their professors rather than on how to get comfortable . . . I could go on and on about how I’ve been able to change so many lives.
So when it comes down to it, I’m glad I had those seven years of pain. It was a great lesson. It taught me to truly sympathize with my patients. When I realized how quickly my problem could be alleviated, I was introduced to an excellent career!