“How’d I Get This Way?”

By Dr. Philip Cordova

January 26, 2016

Patients are often very confused about how their condition started. “I didn’t even do anything!” or “I was just getting out of bed, when ‘Wham!’ back pain!” or “I thought it was my bed, bought a new one, and nothing changed.

Most patients are looking for that one “thing” that occurred in the past few days. The thought process is that everything was fine, then suddenly it wasn’t. Whatever their daily activities, their exercise program (or lack thereof) or any bad habits they may have didn’t affect anything. Suddenly, one day they bent down to pick up their socks and couldn’t stand up.

How does this happen?

We use a simple formula, but one that will become familiar to you very quickly.

Spinal Trauma x Spinal Neglect = Poor Health

Let’s start with the first one:

Spinal Trauma

This may seem counter-intuitive at first. If you were in a car accident, it’s more obvious. “I had a car accident, hurt my neck, and now I’m at the chiropractor. I was ‘fine’ before that.” Most of the time patients don’t recall having any sort of spinal trauma at all.

I have three sons, and I know from watching them since the day they were born that they’ve had spinal trauma. They didn’t learn how to walk the first try, they’ve played sports, and they’ve had plenty of falls. Falls when you are a kid are easy to recover from. If you fell off your bicycle today, you may take weeks to recover.

Each of these spinal traumas didn’t necessarily cause their spine to subluxate (go out of alignment), but it certainly provided the opportunity for it to happen.

Just a few potential spinal traumas you may have experienced: Car accident, sleeping “wrong,” falling down, pregnancy (yes, this is a trauma to your body), daily work or family stress, repetitive stress (doing the same activity for hours each day – like sitting at a desk on the computer), falling off the changing table (statistics show that 50% of us have done this as a baby), countless childhood falls or injuries, and just being born! (Have you ever seen how much force is put on a baby’s head and neck when they’re being delivered?)

What happens next? Spinal neglect.

Spinal Neglect

Why would anyone neglect these injuries? They just didn’t know they could cause this big of a problem. You walked away from it, so it can’t be that bad. The reality is that there is a cumulative effect. It just makes sense that if you keep getting injured in this way, you’ll eventually have a symptom.

It’s more subtle than that. Starting with babies and kids don’t really understand that they have a problem. Most parents don’t believe that kids can have back pain, nor do they think about why someone would take their kid to see a chiropractor.

As a result, the average new patient is over 40 years old. In 40 years, there certainly have been many spinal traumas and certainly much spinal neglect if this is their first visit to see a chiropractor. Then there’s the five most dangerous words in health, “Maybe it will go away.” They have enough “okay” moments that they keep ignoring the problem, hoping that this time will be the last time.

Many patients also believe that they’re “just getting old” and this is just part of the deal. It’s hard to sit there with a straight face when a 25-year-old sits in your office and exclaims that their back pain must be a result of “getting older.” That’s just not true.

Even in my older patients, age is only one factor in their issue. I find that it’s not age of the person as much as “age of the problem” that is more telling in how quickly they will recover. New problems just get better faster, period.

Once you combine some sort of spinal trauma with spinal neglect (often year), you’re bound to have poor health.

Poor Health

Notice I didn’t say “back pain.” It’s not always pain that people are experiencing. Poor health may mean headaches, neck or back pain, but it doesn’t necessarily happen that way. Most patients do come to see us for the first time with a “pain” symptom, but that’s often not all we find.

Numbness, tingling, decreased range of motion, and low energy are also common complaints. The feeling that they’ve “just not been right since the accident” that happened many years ago. For some, poor health has meant a steady stream of adapting that includes not going to restaurants, exercising, and going through way too many ibuprofen pills each week.

The average senior citizen is on over a dozen medications, but it’s not as if someone just handed them a bag of pills when they turned 65. This was a slow but steady decline that led to them taking so many pills. This problem led to one pill, which caused a new symptom and another pill. Pretty soon, they fear being away from the pills and the bad feelings that may come with them.

All the while, they know in their gut that taking this many pills can’t be good for them. They can’t possibly be healthy taking that many drugs. They just don’t know what to do about it.


So how did you get this way? It wasn’t a one time thing. It was many things that were ignored, usually unintentionally or lack of knowledge of what action needed to happen. That’s what led to the poor health, the pain, and the decrease in your body’s ability to function.

In nearly every case we accept for care, the patient experiences a decrease in pain and an improvement in their overall health. It may not be chiropractic that you need, or it may be that chiropractic care isn’t the only thing that you need.

A simple consultation with the doctor is an easy step to finding out if chiropractic care is right for you.

Dr. Philip Cordova

About the author

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and decided to become a chiropractor after hurting his back as a teenager and getting help from chiropractic care. He is speaker on health & posture. Click Here To Read His Full Bio

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