Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Summer Solstice, 2005

None love the messenger who brings bad news.
    - Sophocles

Finding Relief for Pain

No one wants to feel pain; it’s the reason that pain relief is a huge business. Witness the incredible explosion and then the even more dazzling implosion of the newest class of pain killers known as COX-2 inhibitors.

Back in 1999 these COX-2 inhibitors arrived on the scene to great fanfare. Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra were approved for the United States market by the F.D.A. as a safe alternative to older pain killers for such chronic ailments as arthritis.

This group of older drugs known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) has been around for some time. They are effective but have serious drawbacks when used for long periods of time.

Chronic use of these NSAIDS is known to damage both the liver and the kidneys, but the most damning problem is stomach irritation and bleeding.

One study of people using ibuprofen (Advil) to relieve their osteoarthritis pain concluded that more than 16,000 people died every year from acute gastric bleedouts due to this stomach irritation.

So when the new COX-2 drugs hit the market, there was a strong demand for something that would relieve pain without causing stomach bleeding.

Adding to the demand were the newly relaxed rules for drug advertising. We all witnessed an amazing number of ads for these new wonder drugs. One manufacturer actually spent more money promoting its product each year than Pepsi did promoting its line of soft drinks.

Soon everyone was using, or knew someone who was using, one of these COX-2 drugs. It was like a miracle: pain relief without stomach bleeding.

Never mind that the new drugs cost almost as much per pill as the old ones cost per bottle of pills. Everyone was happy. Everyone was a winner.

The drug companies were especially happy. Because chronic pain is such a common problem, there was a huge market. One company alone was reporting profits of more than one billion dollars each year from the sales of its COX-2 drug.

Then came the fall. In October of 2004 the F.D.A. asked the Merck Co. to remove Vioxx from the market due to safety concerns. Well, “safety concerns” might be a slight understatement.

New studies showed that use of Vioxx actually doubled a user’s chances of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. That is correct, doubled.

The ensuing investigation revealed that Merck had been aware of the problem since 2000 but had continued to advertise and sell the drug to an unsuspecting populace anyway.

The firestorm continued to grow, and it soon spread to the other manufacturers of COX-2 drugs and to the F.D.A., which had approved the drug.

The F.D.A.’s role in this fiasco was most interesting and is already leading to a review of how this government watchdog agency does business.

One problem is that new drug safety studies are usually done on young, healthy volunteers who are taking no other drugs, while the eventual end users are usually older people who have multiple health problems and who are taking several drugs.

Another problem is that the scientists who conduct the safety studies are often employees of the drug company. This gives them a strong desire for the drug to be approved.

The final problem is that drug safety studies examine only short-term use, while many drugs are designed for long-term use and may exhibit problems only after months or years of use.

A combination of all these problems is what finally dragged the
COX-2 inhibitors down. A scientist who was not beholden to the manufacturer was doing a long-term study of the drugs. He was investigating the possible protective effects of the COX-2 drugs against colon polyps in an older and less healthy population.

To his dismay, the numbers showed a clear danger when the drugs were taken regularly longer than six months. Then to the dismay of Merck and Co., he reported his findings and all hell broke loose.

To understand the enormity of this issue, it is necessary only to know what I used to teach grade school kids when I volunteered for the American Heart Association. Fully half of all deaths in the United States each year are due to stroke and heart attack.

A drug that doubles the rate of our most potent killer is indeed a major problem.

Now, at this point it might be easy to think: well, at least those drugs are off the market now. We’ll be safe. Except…

Recently, another disturbing piece of news appeared. Researchers were looking into the possible protective action of NSAIDS against mouth cancer in smokers. After a 20-year study they announced two findings, one good and the other definitely bad.

First, they did demonstrate a reduction of mouth cancer in smokers who used NSAIDS. Second, they noticed that smoking NSAIDS users died twice as often from heart attacks and strokes when compared to smokers who did not use the drugs. Wow!

The only drugs that did not demonstrate this doubling effect were aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol), both of which have their own side effects.

So what can we learn from all this? One thing is that all drugs have side effects. Just because the F.D.A. clears a drug does not mean the drug is totally safe.

Another thing is that some side effects are not so bad and others are horrible. Stomach bleeding actually seems like a minor irritation compared to a doubling of your chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Finally, if the cause of your pain is a fixable thing, have it fixed. Treating pain as the enemy is just plain wrong. Pain is a messenger that there is a problem.

Think of a fire in your house as the problem, and the fire alarm as the messenger. If you take the battery out of the alarm, your house will burn to the ground. If you throw buckets of water on the fire, you may not be sleeping under the stars tonight.

If you have pain, don’t turn off the alarm. Don’t kill the messenger. Instead, call us: together we can get to the root of your problem and fix it. Your heart and your stomach will thank you.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Autumn Equinox, 2004

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
    – Andy Warhol

Teammates for Success

Man, are we excited. As promised in the last issue of Praktikos we are going to reprint the entire text of an article written by Bob Findlay, the assistant news editor of the Rocky Mountain News. This article is but one of a series of articles he wrote about his preparations for running an ultramarathon this summer.

For those of you who do not know what an ultramarathon is, it is a footrace that makes a regular twenty-six mile race seem like child's play. These extreme endurance events require the athletes to run at least fifty miles and even up to one hundred miles without stopping or sleeping.

Bob's goal was to run the Leadville Trail 100 which actually makes all other ultramarathons seem less than ultra due to its altitude which averages over 10,200 feet above sea level and the ruggedness of the terrain through which it is run. It is the ultimate test for the small band of crazies who like to do such things.

In preparation for this amazing feat, Bob has run over 1,300 miles just this year. Most of that mileage represents day-to-day training but he has also run multiple half marathons, several full marathons and even one fifty mile ultramarathon out into the deserts of Utah.

When someone wants to run so far without stopping it does take an incredible amount of training to be ready, but there is another type of preparation that is equally important if you are to succeed. This is the kind of preparation that can not be gained by long lonely hours on the road. Your body must feel good: actually your body must feel great because even small problems are exaggerated over the course of running so many miles week after week.

As you will see when you read Bob's article he did not start out feeling great. He recounts how when he was fifty three years old he "suddenly got old". Not only was he not thinking about running an ultramarathon, he was getting leg cramps in his calves just trying to run across Colfax to avoid being hit by a speeding taxi.

Running had become impossible. Orthotics and cortisone shots helped a little with his hip and foot pain but provided no relief for his knee pain or calf spasms. He briefly considered just picking up the remote control and giving into a sedentary life while his pot belly grew. But, Bob really is not that kind of a guy. Instead, he picked up the phone and called Dr. Borman and Associates.

Although Bob had never seen us or any chiropractor before he did remember a conversation that we had had many years before on a long drive to Utah for a kayaking trip on Westwater Canyon. He wanted to know if it was possible to improve function as a way to feel better rather than just cover up pain with drugs. He needed a way out of his physical nightmare.

Our examination that first day revealed that Bob was suffering from the very common problem of pelvic misalignment which had caused a functional shortening of one leg. No wonder he was hurting, such a problem is the equivalent of running with one shoe on and one shoe off. As the pelvis tilts to one side, a compensatory curvature is produced in the low back which then irritates the nerves responsible for muscle function in the legs causing his spasms.

Palpation of his leg muscles confirmed this diagnosis. Even when he was lying prone on his stomach in a fully relaxed state there was a constant tightness in his leg muscles which made them feel more like steel cables than human flesh. We had a lot of work to do.

Thus we began a series of treatments to "nudge" the pelvis back into position. I have put Bob's word in quotes because I think it is exactly the way to say it. One can not simply change overnight a strong pattern of muscular and neurologic misbehavior that has been growing for months and years, Too rapid a change will only cause more pain and fail to heal the problem.

As we methodically worked to level his pelvis and straighten the compensatory curvature in his low back he was simultaneously applying ice to the inflamed areas that were irritating his nervous system. By bringing down the swelling around his nerves he was able to immediately feel better and speed his own healing.

We strongly believe that each patient plays the most important role in their own healing. In our office there is a partnership between the doctor and the person who is healing. Effective treatment can never be a one way street with the doctor doling out health and removing pain. Bob was a world class healer in this regard.

Although Bob wanted to run in the Imogene Pass Race just six weeks after he started treatment he listened to us when we told him to stop even trying to run and just walk for now. Those of you who have worked with us before know of our abiding belief in this simple but effective exercise. Walking works because it cleans out toxins and lactic acid which accumulate in crampy muscles.

Back, hip and leg spasms like Bob was experiencing are actually a lot like writers cramp. We have all felt this incredibly painful spasm in our hands while writing for too long a time. The natural response is to drop the pen immediately and shake your hand until the pain subsides. Writer's cramp is brought on by a continuing contraction of a muscle which acts to limit the blood flow through that same muscle and therefore leads to a critical buildup of toxic lactic acid.

Walking is to the spine and leg muscles what shaking is to the hand muscles, an effective way to stimulate the removal of lactic acid so that the muscle can relax again. So even though Bob wanted to run, he listened to us and only walked. And walked and walked. For weeks he walked and slowly his poor muscles began to relax and he began to feel better.

Each time he came in for his appointment we also applied ultrasound to his tight and swollen areas to speed his cleaning out and healing process. This gentle treatment allows us to work on many problems that others feel are too difficult or long standing to be addressed. As his article points out, ultrasound is one of our secret weapons when we are trying to maintain healthy and happy muscles in a world class athlete like Bob through his superhuman efforts.

I don't want to spoil his story but Bob did make the finish line of the Leadville Trail 100 in just under the thirty hours allowed. This remarkable feat is attained by less than two hundred of the five hundred who sign up for this suffer- fest. You can read the much longer account of his race on line at .

You do not have to be a world class athlete like Bob Findlay or Lance Armstrong to benefit from chiropractic care. If your muscles feel both tight and weak or your joints ache or you just want to feel great, give us a call. There is something which can be done.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Summer Equinox, 2004

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
    – Andy Warhol

Teammates for Success

What can you do for yourself if you are in pain, recovering from an accident, or just finding yourself unable to do what you used to do?

In the last issue of Praktikos we examined two ways of treating your body. The first was a cautionary tale of pain and dysfunction involving a downward cycle of increasing drug use leading to a failed surgery, addiction to Oxycontin, and, finally, irreversible hearing loss.

The second was an inspiring story of how the United States Postal Service was using twice-daily chiropractic treatments during the Tour de France for every member of the team to avoid pain and breakdowns. Such treatments are part of the reason that Lance Armstrong has won the Tour for the past five years running.

We concluded the last newsletter with the thought that everyday people-not just world-class athletes-would benefit from the addition of a chiropractor to their team. In this issue we want to briefly survey the stories of three people who have been using our gentle and effective treatments to improve their lives and work towards a better tomorrow.

Golfing Success

Jeff is a successful businessman in his fifties who would really rather be a professional golfer. When he came to our office early this year, his golf swing was in trouble due to his low back pain and spasm. In fact, the problems in his sacroiliac joints had unleveled the spinal foundation and were causing compensatory curvatures and muscle spasms in his neck. The pain radiated into his shoulder, left forearm, and hand. Needless to say, his game was suffering.

We leveled his pelvis using our padded blocks and started him on a program of icing for the swelling that was irritating his nerves. We also started him on a daily program of walking and easy movement to clean his muscles of their accumulated load of lactic acid and other toxins that were making him feel weak and stiff and sore.

One day he casually mentioned that he was in a tournament out at The Ranch that week. He is such a modest guy that it was not until the several days later while Darla was reading the paper that we discovered he had placed second in the Colorado State Senior Amateur Golf Tournament. He was only one stroke behind the winner, having lost the third round by a single shot.

Walking Success

Judy is a writer in her early seventies who found her way to our office this year on a referral from her doctor of Oriental medicine, Kathy Fisher. Judy is retired, and life was beginning to be rather difficult. Ordinary walking on flat ground, an exercise she had always enjoyed, was becoming painful. Even a slight hill was too much for her to negotiate.

Her life at home was threatened because she had to go down stairs to do the laundry. The only way she could accomplish this was to hold on to the railing and stand sideways on the step, lowering herself one step at a time while pulling the laundry basket down the stairs.

Once again we discovered she was suffering from the extremely common problem of a slip in the sacroiliac joints that had created a compensatory twist and excess muscular work in her low back, hips, and legs. We were able to rather rapidly move the pelvis to a level position and started her on a daily program of walking, icing, and movement. She followed our advice to buy a pedometer and begin tracking her daily steps in a journal.

At first she could only get a few thousand steps a day because she walked slowly and tired easily. Our goal of 10,000 steps in a day seemed perhaps too ambitious. But she kept after it, and week by week the journal numbers began to improve as she regained speed and endurance.

Recently she had her seventy-second birthday, and we asked her how it had gone. With a smile, she opened her daily log and proudly pointed to the place where she had written her step total for the day before her birthday: 14,000.

If you are wondering how far 14,000 steps is, the answer is between five and seven miles, depending on the length of one's stride. She walked that far on a day when she was also getting ready to entertain the next day!

Oh, how about those stairs? Well, it should be no surprise that she now walks down stairs facing forwards and without using her hands, just as most grownups do.

Nothing Succeeds like Excess

Our final patient is a person we have written about before, but his progress since then has been so amazing that it begged to be updated. Bob is the assistant news editor at the Rocky Mountain News and in his late fifties. The last time we wrote about him he had progressed from stark pain and an inability to run across Colfax to avoid a speeding taxi to an amazing run just six weeks later over Imogene Pass from Ouray to Telluride.

What could be more amazing than that? Well, he kept with his chiropractic treatments and continued to press the limits of what he can do.

He has been writing a series in the News for the past several months documenting his quest to run the Leadville 100 this August. This grueling footrace covers one hundred miles on mountain trails all over 10,000 feet in altitude, and it must be completed in less than twenty-four hours.

Bob wrote an excellent article about us (blush) and how important our gentle, effective care has helped him keep moving towards his goal without falling into overuse injuries. He mentioned our definition of resting after a long run: walking and swinging the arms to clean out the pollution that running can produce.

We are seeking approval from his newspaper to reprint his article in a future Praktikos.

Until then, good health to you and remember to make chiropractic part of your team.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Spring Equinox, 2004

You can't turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.
    – Bonnie Prudden

Looking for Health: Tragedy vs. Triumph

Two recent items in the national news caught our attention: one is a tragic tale with a powerful warning message, and the other is a joyful story with a fairy-tale ending that can serve to guide all of us toward true health.

The first cautionary tale is that of a well-known syndicated radio personality. His story hit the news recently when it was revealed that he was addicted to a powerful painkiller called Oxycontin. The reason this story hit me so hard is that this fellow began his descent into hell because he had spinal pain.

He was rich, he was famous, he could afford the best doctors and the best therapy; but his story is the same as so many others with spinal pain. We're certain that he was prescribed pain medication to help him through his "temporary" problem. In addition, he probably received physical therapy to strengthen the weak areas of his spine.

Unfortunately, these measures almost never seem to really help in the long run and so inevitably he faced the prospect of surgery to fix his pain. He probably thought he would improve after submitting to the knife. But everyone now knows that he did not get better; in fact, he probably only got worse.

At first his doctors gave him more medication for the post-surgical pain and he returned to physical therapy to help regain his lost motion and strength. When his pain failed to subside or maybe even worsened (as is often the case), he found that he needed even more pain medication. Soon his doctors started worrying that he was becoming an addict and cut him off.

Of course now he really had two problems; he still had the spinal pain and he was addicted to one of the most powerful opiates ever designed. He started buying his dope from multiple doctors and on the street. Freed from true medical supervision, his habit began to grow and take control of his life.

Oxycontin is also known as Vicodin. Either drug is supposed to be taken only once every 12 hours because of its strength and potential for abuse. Soon this poor guy was taking up to thirty pills each day just keep his demon at bay. Twice during this period he tried to dry out, but both times he failed.

Then, suddenly, disaster struck again. Just as researchers discovered a link between long-term opiate abuse and deafness, he went stone deaf almost overnight. This was a major problem for a man who made his living listening to and then responding to other people's opinions over the airwaves.

This man once again went into a detox center to try beating his addiction. We can't help but pull for him, even while a part of us wonders what his life would have been like if he had only tried chiropractic instead of drugs for his problem when it first began.

Chiropractors have always said that pain is much like a fire alarm in that it is not the problem but rather a warning that something is wrong. It makes no sense to merely remove the batteries from the fire alarm if your house is burning down. The fire itself must be addressed if you want to sleep at home tonight.

Now, let's change gears completely and talk of another way to live and to see life. Lance Armstrong and the entire U.S. Postal Service bicycle racing team have been dominating the Tour de France for five years running due to the team's unique strategy.

Other biking teams from around the world have tried to master this grueling event by cheating with drugs. Some have tried all sorts of magic and dangerous potions to build bigger muscles or to pack their blood with extra red blood cells to give themselves the competitive edge.

Thankfully, the days of unrestricted doping have come to an end with a hard-nosed attitude and stepped-up testing. The Tour de France organizers (along with the governing body of every other major sport) now recognize that not only are these drugs extremely dangerous to the athletes but also that competition is not fair if some are allowed to cheat.

Now that doping is outlawed and rigorously tested for, athletes are on a level playing field. Day after day and mile after mile, the bikers punish their bodies to the extreme limit. The opportunities to get injured are plentiful and the time to repair an injury is extremely limited. This is where the American team has an advantage.

You see, the has has who esn't just travel with the team;

He adjusts every member of the team, including Lance Armstrong, before and after every race for the entire three weeks. The team has recognized that by the time their riders feel pain it is too late. If a knee starts hurting 40 miles into a 120-mile race, by the finish line the knee will be swollen and too damaged to heal by starting time the next day.

So, the team chiropractor uses his intelligent fingers to look for tightness and swelling in the athlete's body before the rider is even aware that a problem exists. This preventive approach has allowed our USPS team to remain strong and healthy even up to the finish in Paris where the results speak for themselves.

In Armstrong's most recent book, Every Second Counts, he devotes two entire pages to singing the praises of the team chiropractor. At one point he actually calls the chiropractor "the most important member of the team."

Now most of us will never compete in the Tour de France but we all compete in our own ways. Maybe you like to run or swim; a chiropractor on your "team" will help you run or swim farther, faster and with less injury if you do like Lance Armstrong and get help before you need it.

Maybe you like to ski or snowboard; chiropractic can help. Maybe your sport is cleaning the house and caring for the next generation; chiropractic can help. Maybe your goal is to live as long and as happy a life as possible; chiropractic can help.

Maybe you already have pain, maybe you have already lost function, maybe you are even losing hope; chiropractic can help. Don't fall for the drug trap; it makes more sense to put out the fire than to just turn off the fire alarm.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Autumn Equinox, 2008

Live your life in balance
    – Our philosophy

A Life Back in Balance

The smiling woman holding trekking poles in the photograph is standing on a high saddle in Rocky Mountain Park. She has just topped out after a long, steep, and brutal climb. The remarkable thing is that only three months earlier she could barely walk around her neighborhood.

Back in July when Marlyne (pronounced Marlene) came to our office, her life was out of balance. She had so much pain in her right hip that not only could she not take her customary daily walk, she also found it impossible to get a full night’s sleep.

Marlyne’s problem had been coming on for a long time. Fifteen years ago she was diagnosed with a hip bursitis. In the last two years, the pain had spread into her entire hip and down her right leg.

It had become so bad that her daily walk actually caused more pain instead of reducing it as it had before. Her favorite sleeping position was on her right side, but her hip was now so tender it was impossible to lie in that position for any length of time.

Of course, hiking and her ski pass at Vail were out of the question. Biking was the only exercise that let her keep her fitness level up.

Her pain had persisted, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. She had been to a chiropractor, tried physical therapy, exercised more, rested more, taken anti-inflammatory drugs, and received cortisone injections in both her hip and her spine.

She was given state-of-the-art MRIs looking for a spinal problem that might be fixed with surgery. She even got an experimental spinal injection, all to no avail.

Marlyne became resigned to just living with the pain. If she took a sleeping pill, she could sleep fitfully for five or six hours each night. Advil each day took the edge off the pain and allowed her to get chores done.

But her pain had taken much of the joy out of her life. Ironically, now that Mel, her husband, was retired and their lives should have been freed up, she felt more restricted than ever.

It was one of her long-time biking friends who suggested that maybe she should call our office and see if there was anything to be done.

After taking her history, we did a thorough examination looking for things that were out of balance. First we placed her face down on the table and then used a very gentle finger walking examination to survey the affected muscles and create a blueprint of her problem.

Only when the body is comfortable, warm, and fully supported is it possible to determine which muscles can no longer relax. These unhealthy muscles are easy to identify because they feel like ropes or cables or even cast iron, instead of pliable human flesh.

In order to remain healthy, strong, and functional, every muscle must be able to relax when it is not working. During relaxation, each muscle repairs and restocks itself in preparation for the next work cycle.

No wonder Marlyne was in so much pain. The muscles in her right hip and the right side of her lower back were unable to relax and enter their healing phase. This left these muscles weakened and exhausted.

The last question was why these muscles were unable to relax and heal themselves. When we compared her leg lengths, we discovered another important area of imbalance.

It was immediately obvious that her right leg was more than one-half inch shorter than her left. This unevenness of leg length had created an unhealthy curvature in her low back.

By far the most common cause of such a discrepancy in leg length is an uncorrected sacroiliac (SI) joint sprain. These critical joints are located at the base of the spine on each side of the tailbone. They act to transfer support of the legs up into the spine.

Sure enough, examination of the SI joints revealed a large, tender, and swollen area surrounding them. There was also an asymmetrical displacement of the right side SI joint, indicating that it was “rocked and locked” out of its normal position.

This locking of the SI joint in an uneven and unbalanced position had created a “functional” shortening of her right leg. Now we had a plan.

By using padded triangular wedges, we could create a gentle, sustained pressure under her pelvis that slowly stretched the SI joints to their normal healthy positions. This would even out the leg lengths and allow healing to begin.

To speed her healing process we used ultrasound. This gentle and soothing treatment helps tight muscles to relax more quickly and completely. Thus, ultrasound eases the correction and helps the adjustment hold its new position.

As soon as we had moved the SI joints and pelvis to the new position, we strapped a cold gel pack over the joints. This reduced swelling and helped the new position hold better.

We then instructed Marlyne in how to avoid positions that would act to re-injure the area. The simple act of keeping her left knee higher than her right knee while sitting and sleeping would avoid re-spraining the vulnerable joints.

The last thing we did that first day was to send Marlyne out to walk on her new leg lengths. This is a critical part of the process of healing. Walking allows the muscles to begin healing and the nervous system to begin learning the new position.

Almost immediately, she was walking with much less pain. Within two weeks she started to sleep better. In only two months she was taking short, easy hikes. It all culminated on the day in the picture with that brutal climb and that great smile.

Now we are looking forward to skiing with Mel this winter. So remember…

If you have pain that won’t go away, there is hope. If your muscles won’t relax at night when you try to go to sleep, it can be healed. If the pain has been a problem for a long time, there are answers. Even if you have already tried other chiropractic or physical therapy or injections, we have a new gentle and effective approach.

Give us a call. It is never too late to begin your new balanced life.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Summer Equinox, 2008

May you live every day of your life.
    – Jonathan Swift

The Perils of Treatment

The year was 1945 and 11-year-old Bobby Borman had taken ill. No one now remembers what the problem was; perhaps no one knew even then. His mother—our Grandma Beulah—who had lost her younger brother in the 1918 flu pandemic was so worried she took him to a doctor.   

By 1945 penicillin had been discovered, but it was available only to soldiers fighting in Europe and the Pacific.  Bobby's doctor was able to prescribe sulfa, the original miracle antibiotic that predated even penicillin.

Grandma Beulah was probably excited about using sulfa.  For the first time in human history, there was a way to fight back against bacteria.  Unfortunately, sulfa drugs have a dangerous side effect; and from this point on, things started going horribly wrong for the Borman family.

Sulfa drugs are cleared from the body through the kidneys, which is why they are still in use today for treatment of bladder and urinary tract infections.  We now know that it is vitally important to keep the patient well hydrated so that the drug does not become too concentrated in the kidneys and begin to crystallize.

Perhaps Bobby was dehydrated from sweating or could not hold water down due to nausea.  For whatever reason, he became dehydrated and the sulfa drug concentrated in his kidneys and began to form razor-sharp crystals within the sensitive organs.

The crystals destroyed his kidneys’ ability to filter and remove waste products from his body.  This led to a condition known as uremia, literally urine in the blood that is fatal if not promptly treated.

Today if this happened, Bobby would have given intravenous fluids; and if that failed he would have been placed on dialysis and later received a kidney transplant.  In 1945 the latter two treatments had not yet become a possibility.

It took only about a week for the waste products of bodily function to build up to toxic levels once his kidneys failed.  Bobby’s death occurred as his brain slowly slipped into coma and then finally stopped all together.

Bobby’s tragic and preventable death over 60 years ago has had a profound effect on why his nephews, Robert and Bill, chose the more natural healing field of chiropractic and how practice their craft today.

This needless death also had a deep impact on Bobby’s namesake, the young Robert Borman.  His first reaction was to worry that he would also die when he was eleven. When he survived turning twelve, he was left with a longer lasting and far more rational thought.

Robert and, later, Bill learned that treatment could sometimes be harmful rather than helpful.  This thought continues to guide the way that Bill and Robert practice today.

While many people think of only the good and helpful side of drugs, the Borman brothers are acutely aware of the dangers of even the most innocuous-seeming drugs.

Drugs always carry a risk of injury that we call side effects. Ironically, many of the drugs we take are solely for the purpose of treating the side effects created by other drugs we are taking.

It seemed only sensible to first try healing from the inside out using the natural power of the body.  If Grandma Beaulah had but waited and kept her son comfortable while Mother Nature worked her magic, Bill and Robert might well have an Uncle Bob today.

Of course, we do not mean to deny the power and amazing ability of modern medicine to heal.  Drugs and surgery now provide healing that was not even imaginable earlier.

Nor do we mean to imply that chiropractic is without faults or danger. From the outset in chiropractic school, Robert had the same misgivings about the treatment sometimes being more dangerous than the condition.

To that end, we at Dr. Borman and Associates have worked diligently to minimize the downsides of chiropractic treatment.

The first major change that we instituted was to stop using the fast snapping adjustments that we were taught in school.  This “high velocity” technique can create trauma and is largely responsible for the horror stories that have made many people hesitant to try chiropractic.

Instead, we use a slow and gentle specific stretching pressure to move vertebrae and restore pain-free function.  Rather than being scary, this type of work feels great and is often very relaxing.

Gone is the fear of overstretching a ligament or muscle and actually worsening a problem.  Gone is the fear of an even worse trauma that can cause permanent injury.

Another thing that we have done to improve your experience and speed your healing is to use ultrasound.  This gentle and pleasant treatment is a highly effective way to reduce muscle spasm and swelling.

Ultrasound feels like a circular massage while the powerful beam of one million vibrations per second penetrates deep into the swollen tissues and tight muscles to reduce pain.

With less pain and spasm, it becomes a simple matter to gently slide vertebra and the pelvis back toward their correct positions.  It also makes it easier for them to stay put so you can heal more rapidly.

In addition to ultrasound, we instruct you and all our patients in the correct and specific use of ice to further reduce swelling around the sensitive nerves that are causing the pain.  This reduction of pain and swelling allows you to use less medication.

This reduction of the need for medication is an important point. Anti-inflammatory drugs are actually counterproductive in the healing process.  Inflammation is really not the problem but rather it is the way the body heals itself.

All we want to do is get rid of the swelling that accompanies inflammation.  Ultrasound and ice will reduce the swelling and the associated pain without slowing the healing process.

Reducing your dependence on anti-inflammatory drugs also saves your stomach, kidneys, and liver from the damage they often inflict.

Finally, at Dr. Borman and Associates, we have done another important thing to save you irritation and aggravation.  We know that your time is important.

We have designed a system that allows you and all our patients to be seen on time.  We do not double-book appointments nor do we run late.

Your appointment time is reserved for you alone.  You can count on us seeing you on time and getting you out on time.  Unlike other doctors who sometimes seem to think that you have nothing important to do, we respect your schedule.

We think that we have devised a great system.  It places you at the center of our efforts.  It strives to heal your problem in the shortest time possible with the least disruption of your life.

Our system consciously works to eliminate the trauma that  has been associated with both traditional chiropractic and medical practice.

We think Uncle Bobby would be proud.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Spring Equinox, 2008

Primum non nocerga Above all, do no harm.

    – from the Hippocratic Oath

A Son Also Rises

On a beautiful spring day, just after school, Dane Borman collapsed on his bedroom floor and nearly died.

The year was 1993 and Dane was only 15 years old, but an artery buried deep in his brain had just ruptured and spilled blood into that sensitive organ.  He immediately experienced a blinding and explosive headache and then began to vomit uncontrollably.

Thankfully he was lucid enough to call his grandmother, and she rushed him to the hospital emergency room.  A CAT scan revealed the presence of a small blood clot near the large arteries that distribute blood to the entire brain.

About half the people who experience such a catastrophic leakage die immediately.  Of the people who survive the initial leak, about half of them die in the next few days as the weakened blood vessel—an aneurysm—breaks again.  This means that more than 75% of the victims are dead within several days.

People die because the brain, like all nerves, is extremely susceptible to any disruption of blood flow. Nerves need a constant flow of blood carrying oxygen and sugar to keep them alive.  Flow interruptions as little as four to five minutes can be lethal.

It was great news that Dane survived the initial break and the artery did not leak again, but he was still in mortal danger.  The blood that had leaked needed to be cleaned up and the resultant damage repaired.  This process of repair was the next problem to be dealt with.

The body’s response to cleaning up a damaged area is familiar to anyone who has sprained an ankle. Injured cells release a chemical called histamine that alerts the body’s defenses about the damage.

Histamine causes the local arteries to dilate and thereby deliver more blood.  This makes the injured area look red and feel hot. Histamine also causes the capillary pores to open up so that the specialized white blood cells can get to the problem area.  As a result, the area begins to swell.  We have all witnessed a sprained ankle turn red, get hot, and grow to the size of a grapefruit as the healing process begins.

The trouble that now confronted Dane was that the brain is encased in a protective boney casing called the skull.  Of course, the skull typically acts as a protector of the delicate nerve structures it houses.  But since damage had occurred deep in the brain, the skull’s strength and rigidity had become a liability.

As an injured ankle swells outward, it releases internal pressure allowing the blood vessels to continue to function.  Because the skull stops all outward expansion of the brain, pressure builds up internally.

This pressure buildup can collapse the veins that would normally act to drain the growing swelling and pressure.  If the veins become collapsed, they can limit the delivery of essential items like oxygen and sugar.

In the early stages of the injury cycle, a strong irritation of the nerves leaves them overly excitable. This is why Dane collapsed with a headache and vomiting.  If the pressure continues to rise, there is a drop off of nerve excitability and the brain sinks into coma and eventual death.

Actually, at Dr. Borman and Associates, we work with this same phenomenon everyday in our chiropractic offices.  The spinal nerves are also encased in an outer boney shell called the spine.  Any swelling inside this housing affects nerve function, leaving them overly excitable, just as it did in Dane's brain.

We work with swollen areas of the spine.  Such swelling is not caused by a broken artery as in Dane's case.  The swelling is secondary to mechanical injury to the spine.  This swelling within the spine and the neurological over-excitability are what causes the sharp pains and muscle spasms that we treat everyday. This is why we are so focused on reducing swelling.

On day one of treatment, all patients are given two highly effective methods to begin reducing their swelling and speed their healing.  We provide an ice pack and instructions on where and how to use it over the spine in order to reduce internal swelling.  Each patient is also encouraged take a daily walk.  The rhythmic muscular contraction created by walking is a great way to pump the swelling away by activating the lymphatic drainage system.

If you find yourself suffering from pain, tingling, or muscle spasm, be not afraid.  These symptoms indicate that the internal swelling around the spinal nerves has only acted to irritate and excite them. This level of injury is highly amenable to our gentle and effective techniques of reducing swelling and then eliminating the causes of the original injury.

You already know how we pay attention to the swelling problems in order to quickly take pressure off the sensitive nerves.  But the best part about what we do is how we adjust your spinal problem areas in a novel and exciting way.

In the past, this adjustment was accomplished through a quick, scary, and sometimes, inadvertently traumatic movement called a thrust or a pop.  We have instead been using a slow and steady, specific stretching technique for more than 25 years.

This gentle and relaxing style of adjusting takes the fear out of moving vertebrae back to their proper positions and re-establishing normal motion.  The slower pressures that we exert on the spine also avoid any secondary trauma that might lead to further swelling and pain.

In the same way, Dane eventually healed from his injury.  Further tests revealed that he did not have an aneurysm in his artery but rather had suffered a traumatic one-time event caused by bodysurfing in Hawaii the prior week.  This meant that Dane would not need to be further traumatized by invasive brain surgery to fix an aneurysm.

As the blood leak was finally resolved by Dane's innate healing abilities, he began to feel better and soon returned to high school fully recovered.  In fact, he recovered so completely that he graduated from CSU in Ft. Collins and then attended Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon.  He graduated co-valedictorian of his class in December of 2004.  Upon graduation with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree he entered a post-doctoral program in radiology at his alma mater.

He is now poised to join his father, Robert, and Uncle Bill in Denver as a hands-on chiropractor. He will, of course, be using the same gentle techniques to fix spinal problems and reduce swelling that we use. He will also be adding a new perspective and expertise that will doubtless improve our work.

This is great news for Robert and Bill and all our patients.  The word of mouth advertising about our new methods and approach has loaded the books with so many happy, satisfied patients that it has become difficult to get in for a treatment.  Dane, we can't wait for you to get here.  Welcome!

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Autumn Equinox, 2007

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

    – Martial (66 AD)

Worth Traveling For

Recently three travelers from out of town stopped in for treatment. Andy came the farthest, from Addis Ababa, but the other two came in from California, which is also pretty far.

Andy is the CEO of a non-profit foundation that works worldwide to promote the use of condoms as a way to prevent disease and save lives. In Ethiopia they "sell" condoms for a penny each to prevent the spread of AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.

Jim owns a small vineyard outside of Santa Barbara but spends a lot of time at his other place in New York City. He runs a non-profit foundation that works with prisoners. One project provides bus service for the families of convicts to visit their loved ones in jail. Another project provides food, shelter, and clothing to people who have been released so their chances of staying out of jail are greatly improved.

Cathy is a professor of neuroscience at a college near Los Angeles. She uses a machine called a functional MRI to map energy usage in the brain. Her special area of interest is how the brain processes tactile input, that is, how do our brains recognize what we are touching with our fingers.

While Cathy was being treated, she asked a question I have been trying to answer ever since: How can she find a chiropractor in her area that does what we do?

You see, Cathy and her husband, a professor of economics, were both patients when they lived in Denver. Naturally, they both want to continue on their path towards health now they have moved to the West Coast. They have had a difficult time finding a chiropractic physician they feel comfortable with.

Cathy could see us this time because she was working with her Ph.D. candidates here in Colorado. In a similar way, Andy was able to see us because he was in town visiting his sister Geri, who works with Darla at the front desk. Jim could see us because he was in town for a fundraiser that he was emceeing.

We hear stories like these a lot. Patients who have moved away come to see us when they are in town. All our new patients have heard of our methods from a family member or a good friend and want to give our office a try. Unfortunately, what we do is not readily available elsewhere and it has no accepted name, so you can't just call local chiropractors and ask if they use the Borman protocol.

You can use a few questions to screen for a compatible therapy:

1) Ask how long the doctor spends in direct contact with the patient. We believe it takes at least 20 to 40 minutes of work to do a good job. Avoid any type of assembly-line approach.

2) Ask if the doctor uses blocks. This answer is important in several ways. Use of blocks means the doctor is interested in leveling the pelvic foundation of the spine as a starting place of therapy. Use of blocks also indicates the doctor is open to the application of slow, sustained pressures as a form of adjustment rather than just the rapid thrusting type of adjusting.

3) Ask if the doctor uses ultrasound. The use of this gentle, yet powerful modality indicates several things about the doctor’s understanding of what lies behind chronic problems.

Using ultrasound means that the doctor is aware that continuing muscular contractions and the resultant buildup of lactic acid both causes and perpetuates most chronic problems. In addition, the use of ultrasound indicates an understanding of the role of swelling around nerve roots in the production of pain.

4) Ask if the doctor runs on time. We all have important things we need to do. A doctor who doesn't value our time is not a good choice when attempting to battle a difficult and chronic problem.

So there it is, four simple questions to ask over the phone. These answers can give a general indication of whether a chiropractor is someone you could work with.

Of course it's easier said than done, easier asked than found. That is why so many of the people who travel to see us for help come from far away. And when I say far away, I don't just mean like Andy or Jim or Cathy who came from out of the country or out of the state.

I mean, regulars like Bill, the seventy-nine-year-old retired schoolteacher, who drives in from way east of Parker so he can continue tending his hilltop ranch. Or like Laura, the computer programmer and mother of two, who drives in from Highlands Ranch so she can continue to run. Or like Julie, the master gardener, who drives in from Longmont so she can continue to enjoy her retirement. Or like Sarah, who drives in from her beautiful cabin on the back side of Mount Evans so she can continue to take care of her horses and trees.

In fact, we see people from all around the metropolitan area and Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, even as far away as Buena Vista. People find us worth searching out and then driving to see us because of the unique manner in which we practice.

We are blessed to be working with the most amazing people imaginable. People who want to be active partners in their own healing. People who expect a rational and comprehensive form of treatment that addresses the root causes of their problems. People who believe that life is to be lived, not merely survived.

At Dr. Borman and Associates we believe that everyone deserves the best care possible. We believe that it is counterproductive to use rapid thrusting adjustments. We believe that muscles deserve a good night’s rest and coffee breaks so they can perform optimally tomorrow. We believe that movement is your friend.

We believe that you can return to full function and vibrant health. We believe that you can thrive, not merely survive.

Call us. We would be honored to examine your particular situation and design a custom healing plan for you.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Summer Solstice, 2007

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
    - Norman Vincent Peale

Nice and Easy Does It

I still remember the patient that changed my life and my way of practicing chiropractic forever. I was holding Bob's head in my hands, sweating bullets. Now this wasn't just any old patient; he was probably the most important patient I had worked on in my young professional career. You see, Bob was not only a successful entrepreneur in the software field and a brilliant man, but he was also one of my parents’ best friends since their high-school days. I was anxious to impress him with my new profession and my skills.

Bob had been suffering from horrible daily headaches when my Dad and Mom convinced him to give little Bobby a try. Because I had just left the offices of my mentor, Dr. Robert Ohlson, to set up my own office, this opportunity was important to me both personally and professionally. I desperately wanted to help Bob beat this problem in order to prove to him, my folks, and myself that chiropractic worked.

The good news was that I knew his headaches were coming from his upper neck. The greater occipital nerve, which leaves the spine at the second cervical vertebra (C-2) level and curves up and over the back of the skull and ends over the eyes, was the culprit. This sensitive nerve structure had been irritated by a strong muscle spasm and vertebral twist that I could easily palpate. As final confirmation, I could actually reproduce his pain with gentle pressure over the affected spot.

The bad news was that up to that point I wasn't helping him at all; in fact, I seemed to be making things worse. I was in the right spot and it was easy to feel which way the vertebra needed to move but each time I twisted his neck and delivered a strong thrust in the proper direction there was no release, no pop, no movement, no improvement. His spasm, swelling, and pain were only increasing. That is why I sat holding his head in my hands, questioning myself and my skills.

But that day was the beginning of something new and amazing. As I held his head and palpated his neck, I noticed that his muscles were actually looser and the twist in his upper neck was less severe. Bob informed me he had been trying something on his own at home with a vibrator and a slow holding pressure while pushing the vertebra into the right position. He was even starting to feel better.

Of course, it all seems so obvious now but it was a revelation to me then: vertebrae could be slowly and gently moved with a sustained holding pressure. There was no need to pop the bones with a fast thrust as I had been taught in school.

In chiropractic college I had been taught a technique of adjusting called High Velocity, Low Amplitude (HVLA). This style of adjusting involves taking someone's neck and twisting it as far as it would go and then delivering a quick thrust in a specific direction on a specific vertebra to move the bone forcefully back into its proper position.

The quick snap was the high velocity part of HVLA. This rapid movement acts to turn off the tight muscle via an internal circuit-breaker reflex. You are probably familiar with this effect if you have ever sprained an ankle. Let's say that you are walking along and step off a curb wrong and your ankle begins to roll over. If the forces are rapid and strong enough, the muscles protecting the joint could be injured and ripped so this protective nerve reflex tells the muscles to just relax.

This reflexive muscular relaxation protects the muscles but it leaves you in a heap on the ground and it leaves your ligaments unprotected from over-stretching. This is where the low amplitude part of HVLA comes in. A chiropractor using HVLA techniques must thrust fast and deep enough that the muscles reflexively let go but stop quickly enough that the local ligaments are not damaged.

This balance between hard enough and deep enough to get the reflexive release and yet not going too deep and causing ligament damage is a very difficult task. Not only does the amount of force and depth of thrust needed vary from person to person, but it also varies from time to time in the same person. No wonder I was frustrated; each time I made an adjustment it was hard to know if I was going to help or harm my patient.

What Bob pointed the way to that day was a new method of working on spinal problems that was both highly effective and fear free. We now call this a low-velocity technique of adjusting and use it exclusively on all our patients.

Low-velocity techniques are much like a very gentle and highly specific "micro-yoga." These non-traumatic adjustments are designed to work with the muscles that hold vertebrae out of place. Rather than use a simple home vibrator as Bob did, we use a more powerful ultrasound beam to soothe and relax muscles so we can slide vertebrae back into position.

After all, "muscles move bones;" that is to say, bones are kind of like a puppet in that they have no ability to move on their own but rather are pulled this way and that by muscular action. This is why our examination is so heavily focused on areas of abnormal muscular contraction rather than just bones out of place.

Just as in Bob's upper neck, it was the muscle spasm that needed to be addressed first so that it took only a gentle pressure to move the specific vertebra rather than a sharp thrust. This gentle and effective technique works no matter which part of the spine is involved. It matters not whether you have low-back pain, or sciatica, or shoulder spasm, or a hand falling asleep, or neck pain, or calf cramps; you can be repaired.

If you have had prior surgery, our technique is still safe. If you have osteoporosis, there is no need to fear. If your problem is so painful and acute that you can hardly move, we can still gently heal you. If your condition is decades old, we can unwind those knots and return you to a comfortable life. If you have been frightened by chiropractic before, we can ease your mind. If your problem has resisted all treatment, we can provide a new approach and a new hope. If you have osteoarthritis, we can help. If you don't want to get that knee or hip replaced, we have a plan. If you want to do something for yourself other than just take drugs, you can. If you want to help yourself, you will be taught how to do it. If you want partners who will doggedly work side by side with you in your battle to regain health, we are the guys.

If you thought there was only one way to do chiropractic, it is time to change your mind and change your world.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Spring Equinox, 2007

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to  spend the rest of my life.
    - George Burns

Are You in Pain?

We often see people who are in severe pain because of muscles that are in constant contraction. What is this, and how does it affect our bodies? Let me begin with a story from my childhood.

When I about 10 years old, Dad played a trick on me and my brother, Joe. He said, “I bet I can make a quarter so heavy that you won't be able to hold it up” Of course, we thought he was crazy; there was no way he could make a quarter so heavy we couldn't hold it up. After all, a quarter weighs next to nothing; and Joe and I were young and strong swimmers.

Dad reached into his pocket and pulled out two quarters. He made us stand at attention and hold one arm straight out to the side with the palm down. He then placed a quarter on the back of each outstretched hand and told us to hold still. He took a look at his watch and turned his attention to an engineering problem.

At first there was absolutely no problem. Just as we thought, the quarter weighed next to nothing. We were fine. Dad seemed to pay us no mind as time passed. Five minutes later our shoulder muscles were beginning to ache. After ten minutes our muscles were starting to burn. We never made the 15-minute mark. It literally took days for our shoulder muscles to recover and feel normal again.

Of course, Dad had not really made the quarter heavy. He had used the power of constant contraction to quickly exhaust our muscles. The same thing might have happened to you while you took a written examination or addressed a lot of Christmas cards. We call it writer’s cramp. Even the light contraction needed to hold a pen can cause so much pain we are forced to drop it and shake out our hand.

We have all experienced another example of the debilitating effects of constant muscular contraction. It happens when we are sick and have a fever. As our body's thermostat is reset from 98.6 to 101 we feel a chill, and our muscles tighten up and work harder in order to create more heat. Everyone knows how just a few days of this continuous muscular contraction results in full body ache and stiffness and pain in our joints.

The reason constant contraction is so damaging to a muscle’s health is due to changes in the blood flow through that muscle. As a muscle does its work, it uses energy and creates a waste product just like a car uses gas and produces exhaust. Blood flowing through the muscle both delivers the sugar energy and carries the toxic waste away from the muscle.

The vessels that carry this blood are not made of plastic tubing but are living, collapsable tissues. Arteries have thick muscular walls and a high internal pressure so they resist compression by muscular contraction. But veins are thin walled and have a low internal pressure leaving them vulnerable to collapse during muscular contraction.

This collapsing nature of veins is actually an ingenious device of Mother Nature. In effect, the muscular contraction acts as a miniature pump by squeezing the venous blood back towards the heart. When the muscle then relaxes, the veins refill and the process is repeated. In this way, the blood flow of a hardworking muscle can be increased tenfold over resting levels.

This is how people are able to climb a mountain like Long's Peak. Each of the 20,000 steps needed to reach the top required quite a bit of muscular work but each of those steps also created a pumping effect that milked the veins and cleaned the muscles of waste products. Back and forth: back and forth. High pressure: low pressure. High pressure: low pressure – constantly cleaning put the waste blood making room for the new blood with its treasures of sugar and oxygen.

When a muscle is constantly contracting, none of this healthy cleaning occurs. Even a mild level of contraction (remember Joe and me with the quarters on the back of our hands?) is enough to collapse the veins and keep them that way. Because the pressure never goes away, the veins do not refill and the pumping effect comes to a halt.

Without the pumping effect cleaning the muscle out and clearing the way for the new healthy blood, it does not take long before the muscle tires and finally is exhausted. If we are holding our arms out to the side, we have to drop our hands to our sides. If we are writing an examination, we have to drop the pen and shake our hand.

Unfortunately, most constant muscle contraction is not caused by such short-term and easily avoided activities. The vast majority of constant contraction within our muscles is caused by problems in the pelvis and spine that cause nerve irritation. These kinds of problems need professional attention because they do not heal themselves.

At Dr. Borman and Associates, we specialize in discovering the root causes of muscular contractions and then gently eliminating them. Our successful program of non-thrusting manipulation coupled with ultrasound to clean out overworked muscles can have you enjoying life again.

Maybe you have some tight areas in your body right now as you read this issue of Praktikos. Maybe it's in your hip or down into your leg. Maybe the tightness is across your shoulders. Maybe your neck won't relax even when you go to bed at night. Maybe your low back is locked up or your jaw just won't let go.

Maybe you ought to call us right now.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Autumn Equinox, 2006

Nothing venture, Nothing win
    - W. S. Gilbert

Winning Health Back

As I stood before the treatment room door, I wondered how Laura had done on her three-week trip to Croatia, Venice, and a family reunion in Germany. It had promised to be a grueling adventure, full of long plane flights, that would require sleeping while sitting up, strange beds and bad pillows.

In fact, her first visit to our office had come after a Caribbean cruise. The demands of travel had increased her two year old neck pain so much that she could longer live with it. Luckily, Laura’s friend Carolyn had seen us for neck problems, and her description of our style of work sounded just what Laura was looking for.

Laura is an R.N. with seven specialties, ranging from asthma to oncology. Her husband is a much beloved M.D. internist with Kaiser. They were frustrated with her continuing problems but unwilling to subject her to any old-fashioned, high-velocity adjustments for fear it would only aggravate her pain. When Carolyn told them of our gentle style of low-velocity specific stretching and ultrasound to relax muscles, it seemed worth a try.

Laura really had tried everything else. She had been to physical therapy to do exercise; she had tried electrical stimulation and a TENS unit, and taken anti-inflammatory drugs. She had gotten massages, used ice, used heat, exercised with rubber bands, rested, walk daily, danced, changed her pillow, taken hot showers, and done aerobics—all to no avail. She was studying fine arts, but was on the verge of dropping out because she could not carry all the equipment needed.

When we talked that first day, she described a constellation of systems that centered around her neck and areas controlled by the nerves emanating from the neck. Her primary complaint was spasm and pain across the tops of her shoulders that were stronger on the right side. Her neck always felt tight and weak, and the pain became worse with any reading or studying (a real problem for a woman back in school working toward a degree in the fine arts). She reported her right forearm felt tight and full, and her right hand often fell asleep. Her right jaw felt full, swollen, tight, and restricted. For the past several months she experienced dull frontal headaches, as well. These symptoms actually increased while she was in bed trying to sleep, which left her tired and worn out.

Our examination needed to discover not only the source of her problems, but also why they started, as there was no history of car wrecks or trauma to the neck. We began by examining the pelvis and sacro-iliac (SI) joints because of their role as the foundation of the spine. Here we found a condition that might explain her problems: her right leg was nearly a half-inch shorter than her left because of a slip in the SI joints. Further questioning revealed that she had indeed suffered a hard bang to her coccyx (tailbone) when she was 11 years old, almost 30 years earlier. Her tailbone still hurt when she sat on it and she had a low-grade back pain, but they seemed insignificant when compared to the problems in her upper body.

The hit to her tailbone had knocked her pelvis out of alignment and over the years her body had compensated for the functionally shortened leg by building a scoliosis all the way up in her neck. Her neck-related symptoms had actually started while she was working as Kaiser’s nursing coordinator of outpatient asthma care. This job, which she held for four years, involved long hours on the phone and computer. She often cradled the phone between her shoulder and neck while she talked to a patient and typed.

Now we were getting somewhere! The long-term unleveling of her pelvis had created a twist and a weakening of her neck. The awkward positioning and continued misuse of her neck was the last straw. As her neck muscles got tighter and tighter, they began to inflame the neck joints. Soon this joint swelling and irritation began to aggravate the sensitive neck nerves, which spread the problem to the related muscle groups in the shoulder, arm, hand, and head.

We began the process of relieving her neck problem by blocking her pelvis. You who are patients know what that means, but for new people reading this, here is the process. Laura lay on her stomach, and we placed padded triangular wedges under her pelvis to provide a slow, gentle leverage to place the SI joints into their proper positions. By moving these joints, we were able to level her pelvis and equalize her leg lengths.

Once she was standing on a level foundation, we could begin to untwist her spine and relax her muscles. Using the same gentle process coupled with ultrasound, we straightened her spine from the low back into the upper back, which allowed the neck to respond to treatment.

All this time, Laura was actively involved in her own recovery. She was taught which positions to avoid and which to cultivate so as to avoid re-injury. She was instructed to continue to walk every day with an emphasized arm and shoulder swing. She was taught to ice her SI joints to speed their repair and to ice her right lower neck to begin reducing her nerve inflammation and resultant pain.

Laura worked hard. We worked hard. Progress in such a deeply rooted and long-standing problem was hard won. It was easy to regress. But we found we were winning! She began to sleep better and to hurt less. Her pelvic foundation leveled and stabilized. She discovered she did not have to give up her goal of becoming an artist, a fine artist.

That is why I stood outside her treatment room that day after her trip to Europe wondering how she had fared on such a long, difficult journey. As I opened the door, she lifted her head and turned it toward me. Her radiant smile said it all. She had done well, and we were winning. Oh, by the way, she had more good news: one of her pieces of art, a photograph, had been accepted into a juried exhibition and won Best of Show. She is a winner in more ways than one.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Summer Solstice, 2006

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
    – Alan Kay, inventor

Why We Do What We Do And Why It Works So Well

As Jackie lay in the emergency room she could not believe haw fast it had all gone bad. Just the morning before she had been excitedly opening up her family's place on the private water skiing lake for the coming summer.

The weather was great, the water was smooth and their next-door neighbors had just invited her to take a quick lap around the lake. But first she just needed to finish vacuuming behind that rocking chair. She bent over and forward to move the heavy piece of furniture and felt her back give way.

The pain was immediate and sharply searing. It reminded her of the pain she had experienced years before that had lead to her back surgery for a blown disc. She knew that there would be no water skiing today and feared that there might be no more water skiing ever.

She had dealt with this kind of thing before so she knew what to do. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs, which had been effective in the past, did nothing to help. She could not sit or stand or walk and the pain just kept growing.

That night she could not sleep so the next day she and her husband Gary were off to the emergency room looking for help, any kind of help. After a series of tests and diagnostic imaging studies they gave her shots of painkillers and even stronger anti-inflammatory drugs.

They went home with three prescriptions for the standard medications given for this kind of extreme muscle and nerve pain and the unnerving prognosis that there was little to be done but ride it out for the next six weeks while her body tried to heal itself.

Monday morning as we arrived at the office there was a desperate call on the answering machine for an appointment if there were any cancellations. The drugs had helped a little bit but they made her so drowsy and groggy that she had not taken them that morning for fear that she would have a car wreck on the way into work.

Now Jackie is the head of an accounting department for a large local firm and there was no way that she could just not show up for work. Things had to be done and she was the only one who could do it. There was no option.

A typical chiropractic office using old-school high velocity techniques would have been in a real quandary. Her pain was off the scale, her ability to move was almost nil, and she had the further complication of that old disc surgery to add to the difficulties.

It would have been impossible to roll her up on one side, twist her up like a pretzel and "pop" her low back by dropping the doctor’s weight on her knee while pushing back on her shoulder.

Luckily, we are not old school here at Dr. Borman and Associates P.C. We practice the chiropractic of the future that uses no fast or sharp motions to move an injured spine so we were able to immediately begin easing her pain and fear.

It took a little while and some work just to get her down on the adjusting table that morning but once she was in place it immediately became obvious what her problem was. There had been a severe slippage of the sacroiliac joints. That was where her pain was and that was where the solution lay.

We slipped the small triangular blocks under her pelvis in such a way as to slowly and gently begin moving the pelvic bones back into place and to stretch out the spasming muscles. In this position her pain immediately began to subside.

This slipping of the large pelvic bones is not only very painful, but extremely common as well. The internal architecture of the SI joints consists of a series of interlocking nubbins that normally hold the joint in correct position. But once the joint is sprained like Jackie did that fateful Saturday, those same nubbins act to hold the joint out of position.

The spine sits upon the pelvis like a building sits upon a foundation. Both types of structures depend upon the underlying foundation to be stable and level. When the SI joints slip out of place and then lock into a bad position, the pelvic foundation becomes unlevel and the entire spine suffers.

In the early stages of this condition there is horrible low back pain that can affect the low back and perhaps shoot down into the hip or leg. If the pelvic problem is ignored and the patient takes drugs to treat only the symptoms, the joints will stabilize in this abnormal position.

Unfortunately, if left uncorrected in the pelvic foundation the body will begin building a series of compensatory curvatures, called scoliosis, in the upper spine. These curvatures will eventually aggravate the nerves of the upper spine and cause muscle spasm and pain far removed from the site of the original injury.

Thus, when we see a new patient with shoulder pain or headaches or hands that fall asleep or chest pain or neck pain or any symptoms that seemingly came from nowhere and will not resolve...... we check the pelvis and the SI joints for problems.

In our view, any pelvic unleveling must be addressed before attempting to fix the mid-back or neck related problems. The failure to tackle these problems in a logical sequential order is responsible for many a continuing nightmare.

So back to Jackie who is now lying comfortably on our adjusting table just taking her first breaths without pain. We need to find a quick and easy way to relax and clean out her muscles which have become exhausted and filled with irritating lactic acid from their recent spasm.

You see, muscles move bones. This is to say that if we do not address the muscle problems and spasm these very muscles will pull her pelvis right back to the wrong place.

To this end we use ultrasound because it quickly cleans and relaxes even deep muscles without any pain. Ultrasound feels like a gentle circular massage but it our secret weapon. The machine compresses and decompresses the muscle tissue strongly one million vibrations every second.

These vibrations push swelling and lactic acid out of the muscles via the lymphatic system, thereby jump-starting the healing process. Sure we could just do massage but ultrasound feels better and works faster and more deeply.

When it was time to get Jackie up off the table we strapped an ice pack around her waist and centered it over her SI joints to keep her pain at bay and stabilize the joint in its new position by keeping the internal nubbins interlocked.

She was instructed in simple positions that would prevent her from reinjuring the joints. We also told her to walk because the muscular movement pumps the lymphatic system and reinforces the effects of ultrasound in cleaning out the affected muscles.

She returned the next day and every day that week for more of the same gentle, effective therapy to insure complete healing because she had a goal. You see, Jackie is a grandmother of four who was about to turn 60 years old and she wanted to waterski again on her birthday.

And do you know what?.... She did! Just one month after her injury and trip to the E.R., she skied again. Not just one time but four days in a row she was able to do her favorite things: waterski and teach her grandchildren to ski.

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Spring Equinox, 2006

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
    - Norman Vincent Peale

Finding “The Line” to Good Health

If it is a big bad one, your palms get moist and your mouth dries up so you can’t spit or whistle. Your breathing gets rapid and shallow, and you can feel your heart pumping in your chest.

Only moments ago you were floating peacefully down a beautiful river in your kayak when the whole world seemed to drop away. The noise first alerted you: a deep thunderous roar that reverberated off the steep canyon walls. Peering ahead, you can see only an abrupt horizon line looming downstream.

Quickly you paddle to shore before being swept into the unseen rapid. You slowly pull your body from the tiny kayak to give your feet and legs time to unwind and regain their steadiness. Then you follow the well-worn path down the riverside and begin to scout the rapid.

At first your eyes are inexorably drawn to the dangers lurking in the turbulent chaos. The right bank is undermined, and a large tree has fallen into the river. Its gnarly branches extend into the main current creating a strainer that can trap and drown a kayaker like spaghetti in a colander. Just below the tree on the left is a deep keeper hole that could spin you around and spit you out into the uncaring river.

You stand there with your palms sweating and your heart pounding, your mouth dry and your heart pounding, fearing death by drowning. But here is where your mind must change directions and work pure magic: you must now push the danger to the very back of your mind and look for what is called “the line.”

“The line” is the path that leads safely around obstacles. In this case it is a path that passes closely along the left riverbank, avoiding the tree, and then quickly moves to the right to avoid the keeper hole. You must visualize yourself making the line. You must see yourself making the moves required, or it will not be safe to paddle the rapid.

The reason it would be unsafe to paddle this rapid if your mind fixates on the obstacle rather than the line is simple: in kayaking (as in life) you tend to go where you look. If you climb into your kayak with that deadly tree in mind, you will be swept into its clutches and you could die. You must mentally focus on where you want to go and not on where you are afraid you might go.

In kayaking this principle of “going where you look” is both powerful and instantaneous. While most people will never paddle a rapid with a deadly strainer tree, the principle applies to everyday life as well.

Life, like a river, is filled with obstacles that can monopolize our attention and draw us towards destruction. Pathology is one of these dangers. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, strokes, and arthritis; we all know people with these pathologies. It is hard not to fear such things in our own futures.

It is easy to become mired in the obstacles, the dangers of modern life. Yet, just as on the river, fixation on the danger actually increases our chances of having problems with our health. What we need is a “line” to visualize, a path to paddle that leads us past the dangers and to true health. This is more difficult than it might seem because we don’t even have a word to describe this path.

Unfortunately, we do have a word to describe the movement towards disease: pathogenesis. Don’t stare at it; it only gives it more power!

Instead, direct your attention to a new word: salutogenesis, the movement towards health derived from the Latin root “salute” meaning health or safety. Now we have a place to focus our mind’s eye that leads past the dangers to safety.

Life is an individual undertaking (just like kayaking) so you are free to scout and develop your own line, but here are a few suggestions: walk everyday for about thirty minutes, get eight hours sleep every night, eat when you are hungry and stop before you are full, eat a broad variety of healthy organic foods, eat slowly and enjoy the taste and texture of your food, have a little beer or wine with your meal, laugh a lot, smile often, tell jokes, sing, start and end each sleep cycle by stretching your arms overhead and lifting your rib cage, stand up straight, swing your arms when you walk, don’t smoke, breathe deeply using your ribs, help someone out who needs a hand up, tell someone you love them, forgive those who have hurt you in the past, hug somebody, take up that new sport, get trekking poles.

The above examples of paths, of lines, that you can choose to focus on and paddle through individual effort, but there remains a final salutogenic process that is just as important but requires outside help: get regular chiropractic adjustments. By keeping your spine and nervous system in optimal condition, you will not only feel great everyday but your body will be stronger and more able to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.

As final evidence of the effectiveness of this salutogenic approach, I would like to cite briefly the specific cases of two of our neatest ladies. Both women are in their seventies, when it is easy to focus on disease and pathology, and yet each is only improving with time.

Judy is white haired and 73 years old. She recently found her daughter’s jump rope and decided to pick it up. She can now jump thirteen times in a row. She is losing weight, her blood pressure is down, her blood sugar is better, and she can walk up and down stairs again without using her hand or fearing for her safety.

Josephine is almost eighty now, and she lives on her own despite the fact that she does not drive and must walk everywhere she goes. With her pedometer and brand-new carbon-graphite trekking poles she goes shopping and then carries her purchases home in a backpack. She is currently planning to enter some competitive walks this spring.

I swear, when either of these two super ladies smiles, the room lights up. You can feel the health radiating from both of them.

What are you doing to improve your health and your future?

Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Autumn Equinox, 2005

If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.
– William James

Health Partners for Life

“Robert, this is incredible. You have got to write about this in Praktikos.”

The speaker repeatedly probed at her right cheek and upper lip with a finger. She is my good friend Valerie, who has been cutting my hair for many years. I was sitting in her Cherry Creek shop called Rembrandt’s as she prepared to go to work.

As she spoke, her face in the mirror was smiling, yet I could tell that there was a hint of confusion and amazement mixed with her happiness.

The reason for her confused and happy amazement was an adjustment in our office that morning.

Valerie has been a patient for nearly fifteen years. It had been over ten months since we had worked on her because of the demands of raising her two teenagers.

You know how other priorities can get in the way of taking care of yourself. Besides, nothing had seemed to be that bad, until recently, that is.

She had returned to active care that Friday complaining that her left hand was going to sleep a lot. This was a real problem because it was worst when she raised her arms above shoulder level, such as while she was cutting hair. Perhaps even worse, it was beginning to interrupt her sleep.

Valerie needed help, now. She expected she would get relief for the numbing in her hand, this time as in times past. What she did not expect is what happened next.

As I was examining and marking her spine for the cause of the hand numbing she asked, in an offhand way, if her neck could affect how her teeth felt.

For the past several months she had been struggling with horrible, debilitating tooth pain. Her dentist had decided that she must have an infection spreading along the upper right jaw and teeth.

Surprisingly, the infection had not responded to medication. In fact, the pain had persisted despite five courses of different antibiotics.

In desperation, Valerie was about to allow the dentist to pull all of the affected teeth as a last resort. Needless to say, this would have been very painful in itself plus requiring long and costly replacements with implants.

That was the situation she found herself in that Friday morning. As she lay on my table she gently raised her right hand and gingerly pressed into her cheek and upper lip, causing a wince of pain.

Now, I am no dentist, and I do not believe that a chiropractor can treat dental problems. But I do know that spinal problems can be brilliant mimickers of other problems.

For example, a problem in the low back at the fifth lumbar vertebra (L-5) level can radiate to the foot muscles, causing spasm and pain. These symptoms could be misinterpreted by a podiatrist and lead to unnecessary orthotics or even surgery.

It seemed possible that a problem in the upper neck could radiate into the head and teeth, thereby creating a strong continuing pain that would fail to respond to conventional treatment.

After I worked the lower neck, shoulder, forearm and hand for her numbing, I examined her uppermost spine. Gentle finger-walking at the first cervical vertebra (C-1) level and up into the sub-occipital muscles revealed swelling and tenderness.

Not only was she tender at the logical region to be involved, but pressure over this region actually reproduced her symptoms. Now we were getting somewhere; we had a chance!

Gently, I began to slowly work the affected spinal level with our non-thrusting style of adjusting. This novel technique allows us to directly work these extremely hot spots without inducing further trauma or swelling to the already inflamed nerves.

We followed up with low-intensity, pulsed ultrasound over both the affected upper spine area and directly over the painful upper jaw and teeth to further reduce muscle spasm and swelling.

Valerie was instructed to ice her neck repeatedly and to stretch her mouth open while finger-walking the chewing muscles over her painful teeth.

It was only three hours later that I sat in her chair ready to get my haircut when she smiled in that confused and amazed way. She was actually feeling better for the first time in months.

When Valerie first asked me to write about this episode in Praktikos, I resisted because people should not think of chiropractic as a cure for dental problems as a general rule.

But, upon further consideration it occurred to me that there were some interesting points of similarity between chiropractic care and dental care.

First, both your teeth and your spine must last you a lifetime. Therefore, care must be for a lifetime. Children need care. Teenagers need care. Adults need care. Old people need care.

Second, by the time something hurts it is already getting late in the process. Both your teeth and your spine deserve a constant vigilance to catch problems before they become symptomatic.

Third, pain demands prompt and effective treatment. It never works to hide a problem with painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs. Not only does this misguided approach allow the real problem to worsen, but reliance on drugs can also create secondary issues with the heart, stomach, liver, and kidneys.

Fourth, in addition to lifelong professional care, both your teeth and your spine require a personal commitment to home care. You are accustomed to daily brushing and flossing your teeth. You must develop a daily habit of walking and icing to keep your spine healthy for a lifetime.

Finally, old-fashioned notions that it is just “normal” for teeth to fall out or for a spine to develop arthritis are outdated. With the new painless and effective forms of dental and chiropractic treatment that are now available, there is no longer any excuse for disability.

You, your dentist, and your chiropractor need to be health partners for life. So get to it. Now is the time to begin a healthier future.

Salud!…….To your health!