Wellness Corner with Dr. Li
A Personal History
I first encountered the world of chiropractic care in the same way many of you did: I was in pain, and I needed help. I first started to have low back pain when I was 15 and I woke up one morning unable to feel my legs. I was living with my aunt, a pharmacist, back then, and after some initial panicking she gave me some anti-inflammatories and I slowly began to feel better. However, the medication didn’t make my low back pain go away—it just covered it up. I couldn’t sit still in class, play sports, or function normally the way I wanted to. Because my physical ailment was invisible, my coaches, classmates and teammates couldn’t understand that I was in too much pain to run, push, jump or do anything I had been able to just a few days before. But I knew I wasn’t a “wimp” or a “baby”— I was in agony.
After a few months my mom took me to see all kinds of doctors. My medical doctor prescribed pain medications but no cure. A physical therapist failed to find out exactly what the problem was. Even after several tries, acupuncture couldn’t help me, and any relief from massages was only temporary. Finally, during the course of a conversation a family friend asked “Mike, have you considered seeking help from a chiropractor?”. I didn’t know what chiropractors did, but I would have tried anything at that point—and, as you can probably imagine, that first visit changed my life. The relief I felt after my first session was so great that I became an instant believer.
Throughout the injuries that occurred during my high school sports career and during college, I kept reading everything the libraries had to offer on the subject of injury management. After I graduated, I applied to school for both physical therapy and chiropractic care, and opted to focus on chiropractic, which had given me my life back after months of being injured and miserable.
From Pain to Passion
I truly hate that my profession often gets a bad reputation as being part of “alternative” (read: unnecessary) care, and for dragging treatment on with few results. Whilst I can’t speak for all of my peers, I have always strived to make my patients get better as fast as possible. If I cannot help you feel improvement over the course of our initial treatment plan, then I will make sure you get the help you need, even if that means finding you someone more suited to your needs.
A common feedback I hear from patients are “You are not like any chiropractors I have seen or heard of.” My response to them is that this is because “I do whatever works for the patients!” I’m trained as a chiropractor, but with my personal experience and history of severe low back pain, continued learning and understanding that everyone is different, I have found the best approach to any aliment is an integrated approach. In any given day I will use the traditional chiropractic manipulation on one patient, the Graston Technique technique on another, and spend time with a different patient teaching them how to lift properly from the floor. Whilst many of us may have experienced the same low back pain I did as a teen, for each person the path that led to that pain is always quite different, which is why I emphasize individualized care and treatment. I’m just happy to now own Mobility Plus Sports Rehab, so I can practice my own personal style with Seattle residents.
Once a patient’s initial complaint—an injury or the source of pain, whether from a fall, an auto accident, a sport or something else—has been located and dealt with, and a patient has satisfactorily completed treatment, I do believe regular checkups are a core aspect of maintaining a high level of physical wellbeing. I call this the Wellness Phase of one’s chiropractic care, and I find it is perhaps the most important service we provide for our patients. By regular checkups, I don’t mean anything drastic. Periodic examinations allow for early detection of joint and muscle dysfunction before they become painful. If allowed to go undetected and untreated, minor dysfunctions can develop without symptoms until they are aggravated by work habits, lifestyles activities, or other stress factors. Many people will invest a lot of time and effort into obtaining better health—eating right, working out, and sleeping better and so on— only to let it slip away. I believe that investing in early detection and treatment is fundamental to cost-effective healthcare.
We all go to the dentist’s twice a year because we believe that our teeth need periodic check-ups and preventative cleaning. People should notice aches and pains as much as they would notice getting daily or weekly toothaches. We should feel the same way about our spine, our backs, necks, muscles and bones. Those aches and pains you might feel after waking up or working at a desk are not “normal.” They tend to indicate a fundamental aspect of how we are moving or holding ourselves is wrong, and should (and can) be located and fixed.