Back to Back Issues Page
CHIROPRACTIC HELP #52: Needs an adjustment
September 27, 2019

Needs an adjustment

Needs an adjustment outlines the conundrum your chiropractor may find him or herself in when there are no hard findings on examination.

Greetings, and welcome to our first newsletter of 2019 after a long break; more about that later. Should you find it interesting, feel free to forward it to your friends, chiropractor, or anyone for that matter.


Every year when I took my annual leave in the early days of chiropractic practice, nearly forty years ago, I asked a retired elderly man to do a locum for us. He was loved by my patients, and I rarely had any complaints about him.

Having said that, as a young graduate, I was often piqued when his clinic notes simply consisted of the statement; "lower back pain - needs an adjustment."

I have reflected on those words many times over the years. Of course, they need to be weighed in the context of the times; that man graduated in 1930 from Lincoln Chiropractic College, one of the premier institutions of the time. He was one of the first men to set up practice in South Africa.

The question is, what does your chiropractor (or medical doctor, for that matter) do when he can't find anything wrong? The range of motion is normal, all the orthopaedic and neurological tests invite the statement, no abnormality detected, or NAD. There are no fixations, and in short he or she is scratching his head.

If it's a new patient, it would be wise perhaps to order x-rays of the offending part. Even that invites the ethical question to the fore: how can you justify subjecting the patient to the known damage from ionizing radiation given there are no findings?

But what of a returning patient, offering no red flags that might alarm one of impending serious illness, who is complaining of pain, or stiffness, or some other symptom?

Doctors learn from their own casefiles

Doctors never learn faster than when they themselves become ill; suddenly all the rhetoric and philosophy fade into oblivion as the harsh reality of the situation is stuffed up our noses.

Professor Tim Noakes, sports physician and academic, reports a similar sense of disquiet when he discovered he himself had become diabetic and his advice to athletes for decades had to be suddenly and urgently reassessed. He ended up doing a complete about turn on the role of carbohydrate in the diet of the athlete, and in fact all his patients, and he himself.

Over the years, I have many times been faced with the situation where there are complaints but no findings. In each case once makes a call based on many factors.

On a personal note

Those of you who have followed these newsletters from Chiropractic Help will know that I myself suffered a sequestered lumbar disc some five years ago, confirmed on MRI, saved from the knife only by excellent chiropractic care.

A disciplined set of exercises and occasional but regular chiropractic care have meant that I can garden, lift beehives and generally lead a full life.

Just recently, I have started getting serious warning signs that all is not well in the state of Denmark; sharp unexpected stabs of lower back pain.

After two weeks (too long, do as I say, not as I do), I consulted my chiropractor (my daughter). She lamented that she could find absolutely nothing wrong. I could bend quite normally in all directions and all the orthopaedic tests were negative.

With two heads contributing, we prodded and pushed and decided that the L5-S1 disc was the offending culprit, despite not being fixated.

Needs an adjustment. After just one gentle manipulation, the sharp warning signs, vague stiffness and discomfort abated by 80%. I'll have another treatment this week.

Meantime, there's no lifting beehives, hoeing in the garden, my consistent nemesis, and less sitting.

Bad backs

Almost always before lower backs turn really sour, there are these warning signs that trouble lies just over the horizon.

Most often just a few treatments are necessary, but a period of care and disciplined exercises must follow. In fact, it's my belief that every person should do these exercises before arising every single morning. It would put a lot of chiropractors and surgeons out of business.

The Banting diet

Over the last few months I have been doing an in-depth, high powered series of lectures on the merits of the Banting diet, named after William Banting, an undertaker who was 'morbidly obese' some one hundred years ago.

The new way of eating was prescribed for him by the celebrated physician William Harvey. Carbohydrate was strictly limited. Reports say that Banting lost so much weight in the next six months that Harvey didn't even recognise him at the next consultation.

Change of direction

The last year has seen a shift of focus from conservative chiropractic help, to a more general concern about overall health. Is life without drugs a pipedream; can we through better eating habits and more exercise regain that sparkling good well-being that we once enjoyed?

In the UK there's been a groundswell movement back to 'real bread.' The harsh reality is that there is a grand lie out there; millers and bakers are legally entitled to call their loaf 'wholemeal' provided they do not remove more than 40% of the goodies, according to Tufts University.

That of course means the bran with the lignans that prevent breast cancer, the vitamin E that is central in the four vitamins associated with the awful frailness syndrome and a host of other very important substances; loss of vitality and strength long before your time is the result.

As a beekeeper, I'm shocked at the difference between the raw honey that we produce and that sold in the supermarkets; but truth is we swallow our food without stopping long enough to taste it, and to ask the question, just how nutritious is this? The gentle art of enjoying good food appears to be lost, perhaps for ever.

Central to this change of direction has been the words of a a cardiac surgeon that we should return to the foods that our grandmothers once served. Veteran of over 4000 open heart surgeries, he remarks that the coronary arteries, despite low cholesterol diets and statins are ever more red and angry.

Everything must change

On the book front, Everything must change, by Rev Brian McLaren has been a disturbing and moving read. Writing about the "suicide machine," it's his opinion that we are hell bent on destroying ourselves and the planet we live on. The late great planet Earth?

Whilst he writes in the main about our materialism, and the dire need for security to protect our wealth, his words are just as applicable to health.

If we are to escape the grip that cancer, cardiovascular disease, back pain, and autoimmune diseases, just to mention a few, have over us, everything must change. These are not comforting words for me or for you, but as the Dutch idiom says, those who will not hear, must feel.

Where to start?

As a Christian, I would say wherever the Spirit of Almighty God pricks you. That might be a decision to recycle glass and paper, or to use far less plastic, or to start walking every day, or to plant a green bean and a lettuce.

For some it might be something far more profound. Organisations like Second Harvest have come about because some humans have been moved to achieve great things; to collect that one quarter of the food grown by farmers for us, but never gets eaten, and to get it to the poor and lonely.

It might be a determination to save the honeybee and keep a hive or two in the garden. After all, one in three mouthfuls that we swallow is pollinated by my favourite insect.

Beyond Chiropractic Help

As you can see, my passion has moved far beyond spinal health. My concern now is for the pristine planet that we inherited from our forbears; what are we going to leave for our grandchildren? Massive islands of plastic junk in the Pacific? Ever increasing landfills that encroach on our back doors?

I fear you may have already hit the exit button, tired of the rantings of a maniac. So be it, those who will not hear must feel, be it more pain and diseased bodies, ever increasing violent weather from global warming or just a grubby environment that encroaches not just at the back but increasingly the front door; right up our noses.

Needs an adjustment

So, if the cap fits, don it. If it's your spine that needs an adjustment, see that you get it.

If it's your diet that needs an adjustment, look no further than fresh whole foods, where possible organically grown. Strictly limiting refined starches is profoundly important; apart from anything else, you'll find those unwanted pounds slowly falling off.

I am currently treating an obese man with an arthritic hip; surgery loomed. By mobilising the offending joint, adjusting his sacroiliac joint and losing ten pounds, he says it is 80% better. He has a serious heart condition too; at least another fifteen pounds must come off and who knows, perhaps his hip will be 95% better.

Just as important he may discover that a life without medication is not just a pipedream. If it's the way you have been treating the environment, then for the sake of your children's children, decide and commit to a contribution, however small, you can make to reducing global warming.

For myself, I'm contemplating an all electric car; but they are so damned expensive! Having gone solar, we now have a large surplus of power during the day that is going to waste. Selling it back to a dirty grid is not wise in South Africa.

Wouldn't you too like one of these?


Everything must change, by Rev Brian McLaren, comes with an unqualified recommendation; it's not a comfortable read so expect to be challenged about many things that you too may be taking for granted. Having said that, I enjoyed it immensely. CHIROPRACTIC HELP Backissues of our newsletters.

Back to Back Issues Page