Doctors Who Understand Runners

A few weeks ago I slept wrong and woke up with a crick in my neck. Just the normal nagging pain that would, in the past, be gone in a couple of days. I went to the chiropractor – my fave practice, Duke Chiropractic on East 38th Street. They worked on my neck several times. But the pain kept getting worse. First it was just pins and needles down my left arm; then it was non-stop muscle pain and weakness.

I asked my orthopedist about it and he said to stick with the active release (at the chiropractor) unless the pain got to be too much. A couple of days later – having just started a new project that requires a 3-4 hour round trip commute to the client carrying my laptop – I was done with it. I went to see a neck specialist in my orthopedists office. She was great.

The practice – Empire State Orthopedics – is staffed by doctors who really get runners. So when Dr. Bergang walked in, she looked at my chart and asked me how many miles I ran a week.

“Around 40,” I said.

“OK, tell me the truth,” she said. “If I were to tell you to cut out the running for a while, would you do it?”

I hesitated. I’ve had to take time off from running at times. But in the past, I stopped running because running wasn’t an option: I had a stress fracture, whooping cough or something other condition that made the choice for me. But my arm doesn’t hurt when I’m running and aside from the numbness and pain in my arm, I’m in great shape.

“So, that’s a no?” she asked, smiling.

“Well, I’d stop if it hurt more running. But it doesn’t.”

Dr. B wasn’t perturbed. “I can deal with a challenging patient,” she said.

And off she sent me for an X-ray. Result? Arthritis in one vertebrae in my neck. Looked like the last one, just above the shoulders. She explained how nerve impingements work and how she would treat it: steroids for six days and a mild muscle relaxer at bedtime. I’m just finishing up my third day on the program. I still have pins and needles pretty much non-stop when I sit at my computer, when I first get out of bed and anytime I change positions. Ran 13 miles or so today, and maybe there’s a connection…But surely there are more stretches I can do.

Author: Beth Browde

Runner. Fiction writer. Explorer. Free range thinker. Management Consultant. And many other things.

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