Have You Noticed That Physical Medicine Doesn’t Last?

That’s what I noticed 43 years ago when I had my physical medicine clinical training at Bastyr University’s College of Naturopathic Medicine. “Why don’t people get better?” I asked Dr. Bastyr. He told me that these unfortunates were chronically injured and would never fully recover. Dr. Bastyr further explained that when these people suffered their injuries their ligaments were stretched and would never resume their original shapes. “Isn’t it good that we can offer them relief of their suffering?” he asked me. I wasn’t so sure…. I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS SCENARIO. “There must be something we are all missing”, I cried. Then I heard about Bilateral Nasal Specific and Dr. J.R. Stober, DC, ND of the Portland, Oregon area. Dr. Stober said that moving the sphenoid bone (inside the skull) with a small endonasal balloon would correct the tension patterns in the meningeal tissues (inside the skull) and this would optimize brain function and the mechanical functions of the sinuses, eye orbit, the jaw, and the teeth. There was an impressive body of testimonials of clinical success and no published writings of any sort. IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST EXPERIENCE! I had chronic sinusitis, chronic neck pain, and chronic low back pain, and I felt good, really good, after getting my first BNS sessions—for the first time in a long time. I loved BNS treatments! When I opened my practice in Everett, Washington in 1982, BNS was one of the main features of my practice. By 1985, Dr. Stober told everybody that I was his best student, and referred many patients to me. I was convinced that moving the bones of the skull to allow the meninges to shift was the missing link that would correct my perceived defect in physical medicine—it would do this through controlled movements of the skull (as well as the spine and pelvis)—then people would totally recover from their assorted injuries. BUT I WAS WRONG! As the years passed, it became evident that, although some people fully recovered from their injuries, most of those I treated only partially recovered—some less than others. There were a few that I even made worse. These unfortunates were terrified of returning for treatment, so I was unable to help them further. Dr. Stober told me that they would get better if they weren’t such cry-babies; they simply needed to return for more treatment. I felt guilty classifying my patients as those who were at fault. I asked all of the physical medicine doctors that I could to find out what was wrong, and a definitive answer was not offered. They always told me about the latest technique that they were using, but agreed that nothing seemed to offer the answers that I sought. I began investigating how physical medicine techniques evolved. There was no systematic approach possible—instead intuitive leaps were occasionally made. Essentially, everything in “modern” times seems to have started with the concepts visualized by Dr. Palmer (the first chiropractor) where he first noted the importance of bone position in effecting the nervous system. It was widely accepted that this caused compensatory (reflex) tightening of the musculature. Everybody kept working within these concepts, refining and improving the techniques they used if they could. I reasoned that the problems I was having with the model that we were all using was that it was not accurate enough at portraying the conditions within the chronically injured body. I thought about this a lot. In the science classes of my youth, I was told about the scientific method: first create a theory, test it with a experimental model, and keep revising the theory, making new models and more tests, further refining it. This is wasn’t exactly what we had all been doing—we had left out the revision. Experimentation without revising the original model was not the scientific theory, but it was the physical medicine model—since we ignored any contradictory evidence. But, in the scientific method, when facts present themselves to us that are contrary to the original theory, we are supposed to create an antithesis. The two ideas then can be synthesized to create a new theory. I wondered “What was the antithesis of the physical medicine model?” I always seemed to have this question in the back of my mind. I kept tinkering with BNS, deep muscle therapies, and osseous manipulation—all without any real improvement. I felt lost. What should I do? My first degree was in mathematics, and my loves were symbolic logic and abstract algebra. I decided to use some of these mathematical analytic techniques to analyze the physical medicine problem. I found physical medicine analysis techniques are rather simple in concept (and complex in practice). We focus on the local physical misalignments that result in the first-level, immediate-symptoms that our patients suffer from. If the neck (or low back, or the mid-back, or the TMJ) hurts, then we work on the bones, muscles, and tendons in the area. Essentially our model is that local misalignments of the bones, muscles, connective tissues, and nerves lead to malfunction that we should correct by re-aligning the bones, muscles, etc. in their original position as closely as we can. If it doesn’t go into place the first time, then repeat. And we do repeat, sometimes hundreds of times with minimal changes. A few therapists working with techniques like NUCA, SOT, Network, vector cranial, Rolfing, SOMA, and NET talked about changing the entire structure through their treatments, but this didn’t seem to influence the majority’s thinking. (Besides, none of these people had a high percentage of success either, so the prevailing sentiment was not to change at all.) What I noticed was that the model’s focus was on which bones (or which body parts) were “out of place.” People would even say, “My neck is out.” Or “My back is out.” So, as our model concluded, if the bone would just stay in place, then the problem would be corrected. So we moved that bone back “in” every treatment, again and again, hoping for success. With such typically poor results that all of the physical medicine techniques displayed, I decided that I would not just learn more mediocre therapy. I looked elsewhere and found nothing better. Since nobody was offering a method that I could embrace, I decided to look within and do it myself. Somebody had to, I reasoned, so why not me? My mathematical training suggested that I choose the opposite track from the thinking of the model. How could I create the antithesis? If our focus was on the bones that were “out of place” because the body would work better with the bone (or joint, etc.) in place, then maybe I should conjecture the opposite. Surely that would show me the errors in my thinking! So I made the assumption that the body was best off with the bones, etc. in the position I found them in. Even though I had called these bones “out of place,” I began treating people that way—ignoring bone alignment and ignoring muscle tension patterns—the methods that I had been taught. I still worked on the sore muscles and joints; I still opened the nasal breathing passages with a balloon. I just treated the painful areas without really thinking about it at all. Nothing had really changed from

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