She left my office a little confused, not sure if I had done anything for her. Most of them gave me “the look” just after their first adjustment.
I am about to tell you a fictitious, yet true-to-life story about what a person (we’ll call her Jane) with headaches and neck pain commonly experience when they come to see me. A symbol for what people often feel after trying our unique chiropractic approach.
Jane came in to see me after having been referred by a friend for head and neck pain.
She knew she had a problem with the alignment of her head and neck because she never felt the same after a waterskiing injury 10 years ago. The neck pain was made worse following a fender bender she was in- volved in a couple years back, only now the pain was compounded by headaches and a mechanical “click” whenever she moved her neck a certain way.
During the consultation, she said that she was hesitant to see a chiropractor, and that the last thing she needed with her delicate situation was to get her neck “cracked”. She was sure it would make her headaches worse. She said “when I heard that you don’t twist or crack the neck, I felt it was worth a try.”
I told her “Jane, the reason why all of our analysis and treatment revolves around the position of the top 2 bones in the neck is because:
I explained to her, “When the head shifts off the center of the top of the neck, the
spine and pelvis will compensate to make up for this shift in weight…”
“...one shoulder drops down, a hip raises up, bringing the leg up with it and this cre- ates an imbalance throughout the entire body….”
“...I don’t know for sure, but this is probably why you feel slanted when you walk.”
“Really?” she asked?
“Yes, and that’s probably why you have that knot on the top of your right shoulder blade. This muscle is usually the first domino in the cascade.”
I then laid out an action plan to get her spinal condition maxi- mally corrected.
She said it was worth a shot and that she didn’t want to keep taking pain pills and getting needle injec- tions to control the pain.
I said, “Great, let’s have you over here on this table, down on your side, with your ear in this slot.”
After I got her positioned for her spinal adjustment, I said “I’m now going to measure for the proper angle to adjust your spine, which is based on your X-rays. I will be touching you right here (earlobe area) with the side of my hand about this hard (touching her shoulder with a little more pressure than for measuring a pulse) and you might hear a little clicking noise like this (clicking my right thumbnail against the tip of my left pointer finger nail).
After making the measurements and positioning my body along the reduction angle, I adjusted her spine for about a minute and
She got up from the table and skeptically looked at me. “Did you do it?”
“I don’t know, let’s check.” I smirked a little and then explained that we don’t rely on the cracking noise to know if we ‘got it’. I said “Remember, when the neck is off the rest of the body will show it.”
I re-measured her standing hip tilt and leg length while she was on her back. Her hips were more level compared to just beforehand, and her leg length slightly improved as well. “Let’s stay after it. Let’s get you down on your side again.”
I measured again for the proper angle, placed my hand on the side of her neck and kept trying to work down her misalignment with the same gentle touch.
I then tapped her shoulder, asked her to sit up and then lie straight back again to re-check her leg length.
This time, the leg had come down all the way. Very good work for a first adjustment day.
I handed her some home care instructions, along with a sheet detailing what she might notice over the next few days, and said that I’d call or text her later that evening to see how she was responding and if she had any more questions.
I texted her later that evening: “Hi Jane, it’s Dr. Pietrek. Just checking to see how you’re responding to your adjustment today. Let me know if you have any questions.”
She messaged back: “Very good, I still have the neck pain, but I’m definitely walking differently.
Even my husband noticed the difference.”
“That’s a good sign!” I replied.
A couple days later during her first follow up visit, I noted that her hips were in the same post- treatment position, yet her leg length had slipped back about 50%.
This time it fully reduced after the first try.
With that familiar “did you do it?” look from last time she said “I kind of get it but I kind of don’t.
Why do other chiropractors twist the neck and do it fast, while you seemingly hardly do anything at all?!”
Trying not to smirk, I replied, “Jane, if you know which key is the right one, you shouldn’t need to try to shove it in there. It should just go.”
“Well, I can tell it’s doing something. My head doesn’t feel as heavy anymore either. See you next
At the time of her next appointment it had already been a week since I had first met Jane.
This time I was the first to notice a difference. “You look well-rested, come on back, let’s check your measurements.”
Now, honestly, it could have been the fact that we were coming off the weekend. She may have caught up on her sleep or, perhaps she had applied her makeup a little differently. Either way, she affirmed my incli- nation:
“I’ve slept SO well the last couple nights. I used to think it had to do with my pillow, but now I think it has to do with my neck.”
“Well when your spine’s on your nerves, other things can get on your nerves more easily.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, with that familiar look.
“Jane do you remember on our first day when I asked you about how you feel this neck problem may be affecting other areas of your life?”
“I asked you if you felt any fogginess or inability to concentrate, if you experience stiffness or mobility
problems and whether you’ve experienced sleep & energy problems or irritability.”
“When I mentioned other things getting on your nerves, I was talking about your pillow. Judging from your response, I’m wondering how things are at home.”
She gulped and took a deep breath. “I don’t think my husband understands how much pain I’m in.”
“You look healthy on the outside.”
“Right! I feel like such a whiner. I know a lot of people out there have disabilities and part of me wants to say ‘who am I to complain? I have a pretty good life.’ But I know there’s a problem.”
“Do you think we’re on the right track?”
“I think so, but my husband and I argue a lot and ...the truth is...I guess I’ve been short-fused with my kids for the past couple months too. How did you know?”
“It just seemed like your story was playing out in much the same was as others with your type of pain.”
“Okay…” she said, this time a little more curious than skeptical.
“Remember how I said the top of the neck is neurologically the more important level of the spine?
“Well, just above this there are some important neurological interconnections with the brain.”
“I think I get it. It’s more than head and neck pain. It’s my brain-to-body connection.”
“That’s right, and when you’re ‘off’, it’s more difficult to invest in others and have real connection
with other people.”
“I like that. It reminds me of a connection device.”
“Yes! It’s found all throughout nature; a tree—both above and below ground, streams and rivers, a nerve cell (neuron), even an antenna. And, in your case, how the upper brain stem is hardwired with your brain.”
“You’re not going to quiz me on this area you?”
“You don’t need to know how this all works any better than you need to be an electrician to benefit from turning on a light switch.”
“Okay, but what does that have to do with checking my leg length?”
“Great question. The leg length deficiency is an effect. It’s an adaptation. It’s a compensation for a problem UPstream. Your body would rather dissipate or spread out the tension all the way down the spine, usually on one side more than the other, and cause one leg to draw up rather than have the pressure continue to build in the top of your neck. Despite how much misalignment you have in the top of your neck, your eyes have to remain close to level just to get along.”
“But there’s one thing I want you to understand. Because when you understand how your leg length normalized after touching the top of your neck, then you’ll realize how I knew to ask you those questions and why your story matches so many other headache and neck pain sufferers I’ve witnessed since 2005.
“It’s not that your leg length came down, it’s how it came down. I didn’t pull on your leg, I didn’t ma- nipulate your hip joint and I certainly didn’t put a ‘lift’ inside your shoe. Your leg came down because your brain started working differently.
“There’s a certain part of the brain known as the vestibular nucleus. Basically, it’s job is to regulate the normal tone of the muscles in your spine so that you can sit, stand, walk and basically function within the gravitational field.”
“I think I’ve heard of that before,” she said. “’Vestibular’ has something to do with balance, right?”
“Exactly. But it doesn’t operate on it’s own. There’s a saying in neurology making reference to how
certain parts of the brain work: nerve cells that fire together wire together.”
“I feel like I’m getting a crash course in brain surgery.”
“Stay with me, I want you to get this. There’s a part of the brain called the cerebellum, where all these wires come together.”
“Kind of like a relay station, right?”
“Yes, and when you understand which body functions these parts of the brain control, you understand why I asked you those questions, and why all of these headache and neck pain testimonials tell similar stories.
“The best way I can describe this is that certain light switches at your home may turn on one light, while others may turn on 2, 3, 4 or more lights—depending on how it was wired by the electrician.”
“I like that. It sounds so simple.”
“Well, the credit goes to you. You’ve kept your hopes up and made a wise decision in your situation. Other things could have given you some relief, but it would have likely short circuited one or more of these common ‘bonus benefits’ as I like to call them, especially mental clarity and sleep.”
“I know, the side effects of a lot of these meds are horrendous.”
“Yes, and it’s just treating the effects, meanwhile the underlying cause gets worse.”
“I’m sure I know a lot of people with this same problem. What could I say to them?”
“I’d tell them there’s no charge for a consultation. We can do it over a phone call, Zoom call or in per- son at our office. If they’d like to proceed with the exam and X-rays it’s just $72.
“From there, if I feel like I can help them, I’d make a recommendation and talk about costs.”
“You don’t take insurance, right?”
“I’m not contracted with any insurance networks, but if they have out-of-network benefits their insur- ance might help them out. You’ll find, in the chiropractic world, the more specialized the method is, the less likely they’ll participate in insurance networks. It’s an ugly reality that a computer program pretty much runs what we commonly call ‘healthcare’.
“In ‘in-network’ insurance you’re required to reach a diagnosis that has a certain code, and then you’re supposed to provide whatever treatment that code corresponds to, even if it doesn’t make sense. I don’t play that game, I call my own shots and most people agree that our cash fees are pretty reasonable, with a couple months of corrective care generally ranging from $800 to $900.”
“I agree, that sounds reasonable.”
“It’s your health, it’s your responsibility.”
“Is there anything else you can think of for today?”
“Nope, thanks for the anatomy lesson!”
“Call me or text me anytime with any questions.”
And that’s where our story ends. It’s up to you if that’s where you’d like your story to begin….
If you’d like to set up a free consult, just reply to the email (which should be in your inbox by now). In case it is isn’t there, check your spam or simply send a message to email@example.com or my cell phone at 952-444-0223. If you prefer to call, the phone number is 952-226-7222.
Let me know if you’d like to set up a free consultation by phone, Zoom or in person AND what a cou- ple of good times and days are for you and I’ll try to match one.
Yours for Better Health,
James Pietrek, DC
PS: When people tell me they feel better ‘connected’ to themselves and others, firing in all 4 cylinders, as a result of our care I know it’s because of the integration that takes place in a special part of the brain where it wires to the brain stem.
It’s not complicated. It’s anatomy, restored physiology, resilience and specificity.
I don’t know of any other singular thing in the wellness industry that can have such vast effects by doing only one thing...and all I use are my bare hands! Nothing put into you and nothing taken out. Just optimized nerve transmission. I love that! And that’s why I’ve made it my life’s work. Helping people realize the hidden ben- efits of restored upper neck alignment once their pain starts to go down.