Neck Manipulation - my past

At judo during my first year at university and guess what. I needed a neck manipulation.

I hurt my neck learning to do a break fall. A Chinese guy there knew exactly what I needed. He got me to relax and suddenly flipped my head around to undo the facet joint subluxation.

My judo career was short lived, until the lapels of my old suit coat tore. I didn't have the money to buy a judo costume.

During our medical training the only reference to spinal manipulation was seeing a person who had weakened bones from a cancer called multiple myeloma. A chiropractor had missed the diagnosis and had fractured a bone.

Fortunately when in my first year after graduation at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, a friend was retraining in anaesthetics after some years as a general practitioner in Gippsland. He told me that chiropractors did valuable work, so I was spared the medical attitude against them prevalent in the 1960s.

Fast forward four years and I entered  general practice at Dimboola in Victoria's Wimmera region. I also found people were being helped by chiropractors and was interested to use manual therapy myself.

The "million dollar roll" for low back pain was the only string in my bow. Quite a few of my patients subsequently attended a chiropractor after my relatively inexperienced treatment.

I wasn't game to treat necks and would refer people to the closest physiotherapist twenty miles down the road. One lady came back and asked me if she needed to be reviewed by him as requested, as she felt better after his first treatment. I said probably best to go, but she returned saying he had treated her again and now she was right back where she started. I realized then that I had to learn how to use neck manipulation myself.

I was then using the technique the Chinese guy had used on me in my first year of medicine.

Another elderly lady whom I treated became intensely dizzy and needed a night in the local hospital to recover. A year later she had a stroke. Had this happened after my treatment I would never again have treated another cervical facet joint subluxation with manual therapy. I think our guardian angels were hard at work.

I joined a group of medical doctors interested in manual therapy, the Australian Association of Manipulative Medicine (later renamed Musculoskeletal instead of "manipulative" after mudslinging by a bureaucrat.) Some very experienced and skillful practitioners taught at their annual meetings and my techniques improved.

Fast forward twenty years. After ten years in the small country town we had shifted to the provincial city of Ballarat for secondary schooling for our children.

I was riding my bike early one morning in winter and obviously not thinking clearly. I looked at a sharp rise in the road ahead and decided to try not to use gears. I hit the hill at top speed and immediately realized how stupid that idea was.

I went to do my first gear change. My racer had the gear levers on the down tube rather than the handlebars. I had a pair of thick woolen socks on my hands instead of gloves. Can you see what is coming? The front wheel caught the sock, ripped it off my hand and jammed it into the front brakes. I flew over the handlebars headfirst onto the roadway.

My helmet saved me from a fractured skull, but my right shoulder took a lot of the impact. The only damage to  the bike was the chain coming off so I rode home with a fractured helmet and wounded right shoulder and pride.

I could no longer use my sharp thrust type of manipulation as the shoulder did all the cracking rather than the person's neck. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as my present techniques are more effective and safer. I use sustained stretch of the stiff joint and only occasionally need to crack it as well..

We live and learn.

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