Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘back pain’

Great find from Dr. Josh! Get rid of “the FUZZ!”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Great find from Dr. Josh! Get rid of “the FUZZ!”


Posted in Fibromyalgia, General Health, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Best Mother’s Day Gift!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mother's Day Massage 50% web graphicYes, gentlemen (and ladies!), it’s that time of year again. What are you going to get Mom for Mother’s Day this year? Flowers?… Again?… at the last minute? Come on. You can do better than that.

This woman first chose to risk carrying you and sacrificing half of her nutrition and immune system for nine months just to bring you into this world. She’s spent the rest of your life being your biggest champion, your taxi, your waitress, your maid, your coach, your banker, your protector, your healer, and Lord knows what else! Don’t you think she deserves something special?

This year, really pamper her with a gift that selfless mothers, too often, won’t buy for themselves… a relaxing, therapeutic massage. Tell her that it’s all about her this year. No flowers that sit around for everyone to enjoy. This is a gift for her… just her. She can schedule a time of her choosing. She can pick the type of massage that she wants. She can spend some time without anyone asking her to do something for them… this is her time.

Did you know? Massage has been proven to help:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
  • Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improvingcirculation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.

Give her the gift of health. Give her something that she’ll love. Not only that… GIVE HER TWO!!! That’s right. When you purchase a massage gift certificate between now and Mother’s Day, you’ll receive a second massage of equal or lesser value at half the regular price! Give her both… or take care of two Moms at once. Either way, you’ve put some thought into it this year, and she’ll thank you for it. Heck, while you’re at it, pick her up a bottle of Biofreeze, too.

Hurry up! You’re running out of time… again…

Posted in General Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chiropractic First in Cases of Work Injuries

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It always amazes me that readily available data is ignored. We’ve known for decades that:

  1. Back pain is the number one reason for missed time at work.
  2. Chiropractic care is the fastest and most successful treatment option at returning patients to work.
  3. Choosing chiropractic first costs less both initially and over the long term; yet…
  4. Employers and insurers continue to ignore these facts.

In most states, Worker’s Compensation claims must follow a certain order of progression. First, the employer admits the condition may be work-related. Then, the employer tells the employee where to go for evaluation and treatment.

Most employers really do care about their employees. They know what keeps their business running. The employer just wants their employee healthy and back on the job, so what do they do? They ask their insurance company where to send the employee. Here’s where the disconnect comes in… The insurance company DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE PATIENT and doesn’t want to PAY ANY CLAIMS. Therefore, they recommend a contracted office who is rewarded for minimizing the claim.

The patient/employee gets minimal care and is returned to daily life without addressing the underlying cause of the condition with which they presented. This leads to further injury or a worsening of the condition… often when the patient is not at work. The employer thinks and the insurance company claims that the condition is no longer work-related, therefore they are not responsible. Ultimately, the patient is saddled with increased expenses, increased time off work, decreased productivity, and declining health.

What’s the answer? Employers must realize that THEY HAVE THE POWER AND CONTROL at the beginning of the case, and can make a more appropriate referral to a chiropractor first. Their unemployment insurance is still responsible and will cover their employee’s expenses… and they will have a healthier, safer, and more productive worker back on the job sooner and with less expense.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Health | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can Chiropractors Help Stuff That Aren’t In the Back?… or, What Is “Chiropractic?”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, September 16, 2013

Got a great call this morning that got me to thinking… Backstory: A friend of mine, whose wife has been a patient for a couple years, called and told me, “Ya know… my knee has been killing me for a long time and I never really thought that you might be able to do something about it.” Following this call, I have two conclusions.

First, I am grateful that he finally asked. The mere fact that he called meant that he had either been told by someone else that he should ask me, or he finally had a epiphany that he should ask if I could help.

Second, I am concerned that after 118 years, the general public still thinks that chiropractors are just back doctors. Seriously, this gentleman has been a good friend of mine for more than five years. And yet, facing a long-standing and significant condition that was extra-spinal, he hadn’t thought to ask me about it until now.

So, let’s get down to it. “Chiropractic” in it’s derivative form means “done by the hand.” It doesn’t mean done on the back, or done on the neck. Historically, Chiropractic has become known as a method of healing that values and encourages the natural healing ability of the body, and the optimization of the body’s ability to do so. Throughout the past century, our profession has proven time and again that we are capable of treating and improving the health of millions of patients with a myriad of conditions. Plantar Fascitis? Check. Achilles’ Tendinitis? Check. Chondromalacia Patella? Check. Sprained Meniscus? Check. Osgood-Schlatter’s? Check. Hip bursitis? Check. Herniated disk? Check. Menstrual Cramps? Check. Constipation? Check. Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Check. Kidney Stones? Check. Gall Bladder congestion? Check. Difficulty breathing? Check. High Blood Pressure? Check. High Cholesterol? Check. Overweight? Check. Thyroid Dysfunction? Check. Common Cold? Check. Rotator Cuff Tear? Check. Tennis Elbow? Check. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Check. Trigger Finger? Check. Torticollis? Check. Cluster Migraine? Check. Tension Headache? Check. …. Shall I go on?

Have all of these conditions been helped and treated by a chiropractic adjustment? Yes and no. If you subscribe to the “straight chiropractor’s” definition of chiropractic, then chiropractors are nothing more than technicians who pop joints. If you subscribe to the “mixer chiropractor’s” definition of chiropractic, then you define the adjustment as the only crucial element to the treatment plan that is assisted by complimenting, external, therapeutic procedures.

However, a realistic definition that complements the true and original derivative “done by the hand,” does not have to explicitly imply that the single most important factor of our care is a physical adjustment. I suggest that a more accurate correlation refers to our ability to take “a hands-on approach.” It is my opinion that, as with all doctors, it is not our actual “hands” or the service we provide that is our most important asset. Our most important asset, and what makes us worthy of being doctors, is our intellect. It is our ability to examine our patients, have a thorough consultation regarding current symptoms and history, and ultimately arrive at a working diagnosis.

Arriving at a working diagnosis allows us to then use our intellect, education, and experience to suggest an appropriate treatment plan. With our knowledge of how the body works, we know the power and outcomes secondary to the chiropractic adjustment, therefore we often incorporate that in our treatment plan. However, we also recommend proper diet, exercise, diagnostic imaging, blood tests, appropriate supplementation, physiotherapy, and rehabilitative therapy. We apply supportive tape or bracing to damaged joints and muscles. We use kinesiotape to improve circulation and minimize further injury. AND, we refer to our health care counterparts when necessary for concurrent and/or more appropriate care.

There is a significant, country-wide push right now for an expanded role for chiropractors in the health care market. For those who wish to go through the additional training and certification, some wish to have the ability to incorporate more traditional Western treatments, such as pharmaceutical intervention. I, for one, don’t have a problem with that. By our very nature and philosophy, the natural and innate power of the human body to heal itself will still be respected. The chiropractic adjustment will still remain a critical therapeutic measure that we can provide to our patients. However, we must not ignore the benefits that can be achieved through the provision of non-traditional methods of treatment. The world is not flat, and sometimes antibiotics are necessary. The Earth is not the center of the Universe, and sometimes muscle relaxants assist in the healing process.

So, in conclusion, chiropractors are not “back doctors.” We are not “neck doctors.” If an individual chiropractor wants to limit his practice to a specialty practice dealing only with backs, or necks, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or headaches, or whatever… more power to ya! However, it is unfortunate that some would seek to pigeon-hole the entire profession to their own desires. It is time to expand our practice models, and provide for our patients regardless of historical traditions. It is time to join the 21st century and encourage the freedom to grow and offer more to our patients. It is time to inform the public that we can treat knees, ankles, ear infections, stomach problems, shoulder injuries, chronic pain conditions, and more. It is time to be the first doctor that comes to mind when ANY health condition presents itself.

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health, Other Pain Conditions, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Back To School…

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August/September… Summer is winding down… We’re getting the kids back to school. We can learn a lot from our children…

They go through their summer, sleeping in until noon, only waking to grab the phone to see who’s text messages they’ve missed. Once they’ve replied and made potential plans for the coming evening of blissful lack of responsibility, they grab a bite to eat and flip on the tube or Facebook and “check in.” However, once school starts back up (perhaps with a little coaxing), they’re up at 6:00 AM fixing their hair, organizing the backpack, grabbing a bowl of cereal, and catching the bus or driving themselves to school. In short, once they recognize that it’s time to get the job done; once they are expected to be responsible; once they know there is no alternative… they just do it. They may not be happy about it. They may complain and rebel. They may resist… but, in large part, they do it. Decision made, this is what has to be done, let’s go.

Now… as an adult… who are you responsible to? Let’s put this in perspective.

How many of you know and acknowledge that “It’s time to quit smoking?” … “It’s time to start exercising?” … “It’s time to start taking care of myself?” But who is there to kick your lazy butt into gear? The answer is: YOU. We teach our kids that we all have responsibilities, and when it needs to be done, you just do it. We EXPECT them to honor their responsibilities and do their chores. There are consequences if they don’t… but, do we hold ourselves to the same level of accountability? If you demand that your student get up and go to school, but continue with habits that you KNOW you shouldn’t be doing, then you’re a hypocrite. How can you expect to hold their respect, if you won’t practice what you preach? What kind of lesson are you teaching them; or, example are you setting if you tell them one thing then do another?

Let’s take this time to show our children what it really means to be responsible. Let’s make the decision that the time is now to “get it done.” No more “New Year’s Resolutions…” no more, I’ll quit ____ once I turn 40… 50… etc.” Do it now.

We’re here to help. At Gray Chiropractic, we have three doctors and a massage therapist on staff to help you achieve your health care goals. Combined, all of our doctors have over 30 years of experience in dealing with sports injuries, addictions, painful conditions due to years of hard work, acute injuries, chronic pains, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, lower back pain, etc. We have helped patients from the grandmother struggling with duties at church to the infant with a bad case of colic. We’ve helped people quit smoking. We’ve helped people lose weight. We’ve relieved years of pain. Traditional chiropractic care, acupuncture, supplementation, nutritional counseling, strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, … you name it, and we can help you achieve your goals.

So… get off your ass and make an appointment with us today. Whether it’s a simple, tune-up adjustment, or a full nutritional work-up, you know it’s time to start leading by example. If you want your children to make smart health decisions, then you must show them how it’s done. Lead by example. Hold yourself accountable. Make the decision that there is no alternative… there are consequences if you don’t… and, get it done. Do the right thing.

Dr. Gray

Posted in Acupuncture, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Nutrition, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can Stress or Emotions Cause Pain?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, January 23, 2012

I received a great question from a patient recently: She had read somewhere that stress and emotions were the cause of back pain, and wondered if I agreed or if it was true. Here is the majority of my answer.

While not the only cause of pain, the relationship between mental/emotional complaints or stress and how they lead to various physical conditions has long been known. The technical term for it is “psychosomatic,” or “psychogenic,” and refers to physical complaints being caused by mental/emotional problems. As our world has gotten busier and busier, and we have gotten away from stress-reducing activities in our daily life, these psychosomatic conditions have become much more widespread. Unfortunately, addressing psychosomatic conditions is difficult for several reasons.

First, psychosomatic complaints can be varied in their expression. Some people experience headaches when stressed, while others will develop back pain. Still others will suffer from indigestion… or high blood pressure… or neuropathy… or constipation… panic attacks… etc. Because of this highly variable presentation, it is difficult to determine exactly when our conditions are psychogenic in nature or when there is a true underlying disease process. In addition, there are no real tests that can be performed or evaluated to definitively diagnose psychosomatic conditions. Therefore, we are often in a position where we must run a multitude of tests and evaluations to rule out more serious complications or underlying disease processes. When these tests, inevitably, show no evidence of other causes, by exclusion the only plausible remaining diagnosis is “psychosomatic.” However, the very process of so many tests, the costs associated with these tests, and the continual disappointment of another test without an answer… only adds to the stress that is ultimately the underlying cause!

Second, when we have confirmed that stress is either the primary underlying cause or just a complicating factor, it is extremely difficult to get patients to comply with our recommendations on how to reduce that stress. Regardless of whether a physician is involved or not, a person who recognizes that stress is the culprit will often be unwilling (or unable) to take the necessary steps to correct their situation. How many of us can change occupations at will? Which of us can rapidly make money problems disappear? Who among us chooses when to deal with a dying parent? Which of us set our own work hours? And on and on… However, there are a great many things that we can do, but are often unwilling. For example: How many of us turn the television off and read a book in the evening? How many of us go to bed early with some soft, soothing music? How many of us choose nutritious snacks instead of sugary, carbohydrate-rich junk? Who do you know that closes their eyes and rests for fifteen minutes at lunch instead of checking in on Facebook? How many of us go for a walk in the evening instead of watching American Idol? Stress is largely a direct effect of the choices we make, our response to the consequences of those choices, and our willingness or ability to change those choices.

Third, our traditional Western medical system is not designed to properly address or correct psychosomatic conditions. If you look at the above complaints we noted above, think about how those conditions are primarily treated. Headache? Take Excedrin. Back pain? Take Alleve. Indigestion? Take Prevacid. High blood pressure? Take Toprol. Neuropathy? Take Gabapentin. Constipation? Take Maalox. Panic attacks? Take Prozac. Are you seeing the pattern here? And don’t blame this entirely on doctors or the pharmaceutical companies… Nearly every one of the conditions I’ve listed are lifestyle-related. In other words, choices the patient has made have led to the conditions with which they are suffering. By extension, patients demand and choose a treatment alternative that allows them to go on making the same ill-fated choices. Unfortunately, our Western medical system is largely geared towards symptom control… not dysfunction correction.

So, can mental or emotional stress cause pain? Absolutely. It can cause a great many things other than just pain, so it is important to make stress-reduction a regular part of your daily life.

Posted in Fibromyalgia, General Back Pain, General Health, Other Pain Conditions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Acupuncture… Does It Work?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Found a great article in the Wall Street journal from March 2010. In it, the journalist gives an account of her experience with acupuncture, and details some of the new scientific evidence proving the effective results associated with this form of treatment. For me, this was a great and timely article. I am often asked, “How does acupuncture work?” Well, you all know that I am often honest to a fault, therefore, my answer usually begins with, “We don’t exactly know!” Wow… now if that doesn’t inspire confidence, I don’t know what will! (obvious sarcasm)

A technique that has been around for 5000 years or so has got to have some validity to it, right? So why are there so few scientific studies and such little research done on the subject? The answer to that question is two-fold:

First, I believe that we do not yet fully understand how to evaluate and quantify the effects of the biomagnetic and bioelectric fields that surround and travel through us. Physics can measure, predict, and detail very accurately the electric and magnetic fields created by the interaction of positive and negative charges when we pass electricity through a copper wire. On a very basic, simplified, and cellular level, the interaction between nerves, cells, and other tissues in our body is not that different from passing electrons through a wire. In nearly all functions of the body, there are positive and negative charges being exchanged, transferred, or retained in and between our cells. Individually, this interaction between two cells may be extremely small. However, collectively, these interactions could theoretically develop significantly large biomagnetic and bioelectric fields due to the interaction of positive and negative charges. This model could explain why many seemingly strange techniques work; such as: acupuncture, applied kinesiology, contact reflex analysis, muscle testing, etc. Many of these techniques involve weird and unexplained responses from the manipulation or interference with these fields; such as holding a particular food item causing the strengthening or weakening of a muscle. At this point in time, we just don’t know how to measure or evaluate these responses. Most of these techniques also suffer from interexaminer deficiencies… which means, different practitioners may do an examination on the same patient yet interpret the results differently. Here’s the strange part… even though different results are obtained from examination, and different acupoints may be chosen for treatment, positive outcomes from treatment are still realized… and outperform placebo!

The second reason that research and documentation is scant on acupuncture and energy-based medicine is… say it with me folks… Follow the money!!! That’s right, boys and girls. There’s no money in it for the pharmaceutical, insurance, or medical corporations. Acupuncture, chiropractic, kinesiology, and other energy-based techniques are largely practitioner-based. Face it; if they can’t bottle it and sell it, they’re not going to support it. Who do you think pays for all those research papers in JAMA, NEJM, or any other “peer-reviewed” research journal? And why do they pay for or support these research articles? Because they expect a return on their investment. I don’t have a problem with it… that’s the way the free market works, and I’d rather have it that way than have some moron in Washington deciding what’s good or not (besides… who do you think is paying that guy?). All I’m saying is that the lack of big-money research doesn’t necessarily mean that something doesn’t work. Like I’ve told you before, in anything you read or hear (including this blog!), consider the source and motivation behind what you’re hearing. The pharmaceutical industry is a trillion dollar per year industry… why would they finance, support, and publish any research that encourages a medical treatment option that renders their products unnecessary? Not gonna happen.

That said, there were a couple good videos included with the Wall Street Journal article linked above. Having trouble embedding them here, so follow the link and watch them there. I’ll update this page if I figure out how to embed the video here. If you want to go directly to the videos: here’s the first one… and, here’s the second one.

Dr. James C. Gray

Posted in Acupuncture, General Back Pain, General Health, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Other Pain Conditions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

My Interview For “Living With Back Pain”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, February 1, 2010

I was recently asked to do an interview for the website “Living with Back Pain.” This informative site has many pages devoted to living and dealing with chronic pain. I enjoyed doing the interview and am satisfied that I was able to provide some good info that will be beneficial to anyone dealing with painful conditions. I’ll post the entire article below, but be sure to check it out on their site, too. While you’re there, I encourage you to look around Dave’s site. Click here to open the interview in a new window. Here’s the text of the interview:


Dr James Gray

Dr James Gray from Gray Chiropractic and Natural Health Care in Independence, Missouri has agreed to share some of his knowledge about natural health treatments with us.

He is active in his community where he has established a relationship with many medical doctors, who refer patients to him for his natural health treatments, because they have seen the results that he has been able to achieve.

Dr Gray, Welcome.Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your experience and expertise about chiropractic care with us.

I found your website graychiropractic.com when researching chiropractors, and I was very impressed by how professional and informative your website and your practice seem to be.

Please tell us briefly about yourself and your involvement with chiropractic care and health care in general, the services you have to offer, and the web blog that you write.

Thanks, Dave, for the opportunity to participate and add to your discussion in relieving chronic pain. For the past 15 years, I’ve been a chiropractor in the Eastern suburbs of Kansas City, MO. While attending chiropractic school, although I’ve always been skeptic of unproven treatment methods, I vowed to keep an open mind and research as many health care ideas as I could. I would often attend seminars with a notion that I would be gaining the knowledge I would need to warn my patients about the dangers of fringe treatments. Often, I came away with that very outcome. However, I was surprised at how many times I came away with more answers than I had expected, and a sincere desire to learn more about a particular technique.

Today, Gray Chiropractic offers a wide variety of natural health care alternatives to traditional medicine. The majority of cases we deal with involve traditional, evidence-based chiropractic care, but I think the secret to our success is in the integration of multiple treatment methods and techniques. In addition to chiropractic care, we utilize and provide in our office both passive and active adjunctive physiotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, dietary and nutritional counseling, massage therapy, and sports care. One aspect of our office that may differ from your readers’ past experiences is our emphasis and desire to communicate and coordinate care with our patients’ medical doctors. I vowed after leaving school that I was not going to participate in the partisan bickering between our professions that doesn’t benefit our patients and equates to nothing more than a turf war. It is only by communication, cooperation, and the integration of the vast array of health care choices that we can achieve optimum results.

I tell all of my patients that the original definition for the Latin word for doctor meant “teacher.” As physicians, it is our responsibility to evaluate a patient’s body as a whole and give them all of the information they need to make an informed decision. Contrary to popular belief, neither I nor any other doctor can make you partake in any treatment recommendations. Nor can we insure that you will continue to follow our recommendations once you are not under active and regular care. Ultimately, it is the patient that is responsible for their health… for better or worse. Therefore, it is imperative that we teach our patients about the many choices they have, and the consequences associated with each. In my blog, I try to discuss the health care issues that face us all in a blunt and clear manner. There is so much misinformation out there; it’s hard for patients to get a clear and unbiased message. I try to write about a wide variety of issues from a natural health care perspective, but leave out the fluff and sales-influenced propaganda.

1. Dr Gray, after reading some of your blogs I get the impression that you have some pretty strong feelings about medical care in the United States.

I do have very strong feelings about medical care in our country. However, I hope I’ve not given the impression that my feelings are anti-medicine. I write some pretty scathing rebukes when necessary, but I don’t care what profession the bull comes from… if it’s crap, it’s crap. I think what I get most upset about is sales propaganda disguised as health care authority or advice. This comes from all directions and all professions, and I’ve got no problem pointing it out when I can.

What first led you to get involved in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine?

While in chiropractic school, I had a friend invite me to attend a weekend seminar to fulfill some of our elective credit requirements. I had always thought acupuncture was going to be one of those techniques that I would debunk and warn my patients about. “I mean seriously… you’re going to tell me that you can stick a needle in a woman’s ankle and relieve her menstrual cramps? Gimme a break!” However, by the end of that one weekend, I was fascinated. I couldn’t wait to learn more. I immersed myself in reading new and old material alike, and immediately signed up for the full post-doctoral program. Since then, I have continued to study and learn about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. I read several books and attend continuing education seminars multiple times every year. I never fail to come away with something I didn’t know before. Acupuncture is an art that takes years to learn and a lifetime to master.

Does it work for everyone? Of course not. It is no more a “cure-all” than chiropractic or pharmaceuticals are. Acupuncture is merely one more treatment choice and method that we have in our arsenal to fight disease and discomfort.

2. In your practice at Gray Chiropractic you use axial traction and intersegmental traction to distract the spine and open up the vertebral spaces. How does this compare to treatment with the DRX9000 that some practices are promoting?

The DRX9000 (or the VAX-D, Lordex, DRS, etc.) are computerized axial traction devices. Although I don’t have any problem with the tables or techniques themselves, I do object to some of the questionable marketing practices used by some to sell these treatments. I found an article from the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy titled “Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy: does the scientific literature support efficacy claims made in the advertising media?” published in May 2007. The article examines this “heavily marketed” version of traction therapy that “can cost over $100,000.” The authors extensively search all the major medical and scientific literature databases to find every scientific research article published on nonsurgical spinal decompression. It turns out; there was only 1 randomized controlled trial, 1 clinical trial, 1 case series and 7 other papers. Each was reviewed individually. The authors concluded that “In general the quality of these studies is questionable.” And that there was “only limited evidence…available to warrant the routine use of non-surgical spinal decompression, particularly when many other well investigated, less expensive alternatives are available.”

I would have to agree with the conclusions of the authors. Spinal decompression does work as designed, but I’ve not seen evidence that it is any more effective than other treatment methods that are readily available and much less expensive. There are relatively few cases that will respond only to this form of treatment, yet will not also obtain comparable results from flexion-distraction, chiropractic with exercise, axial traction, or a simple inversion table.

3. You offer Nutrition Response Testing and Designed Clinical Nutrition in your chiropractic practice. I read the explanation on your website and found it very interesting, but I didn’t quite understand how it was developed or where it originated. It seems to be related to traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture treated with modern dietary supplements. Can you tell us how it was developed and how it made its way into your practice?

Nutrition Response Testing is a technique that has developed through the conglomeration of numerous techniques over the years. Founded and developed by a pair of doctors in New York, their research was originally was based on the work of the “Founding Fathers of Modern Nutrition:” Dr. Royal Lee, Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Dr. Melvin E. Page and Dr. Weston A. Price, and a modification of Contact Reflex Analysis. These techniques involve muscle testing and energy work that is not well understood, however, I can’t argue with results. My primary complaint lies with the subjective nature of the muscle testing, and inter-examiner reliability. That said; the muscle testing and reflex points designed to illicit response follow closely along historical reflex points from traditional Chinese philosophy and acupuncture meridians.

In practice, I had begun to see a pattern of declining health of the general population that traditional methods (chiropractic or medical) were not addressing as completely as they used to. By process of elimination, I found that dietary weakness and malnutrition was playing a role in the failing health of our society. Deep down, this is something that we all know, but due to the diarrhetic glut of information available about this vitamin for that and that vitamin for this, we don’t know where to start! I was determined to increase my ability to teach my patients how to eat better, and how to choose only those supplements that will benefit each individual situation. Everyone, and every case, is different. I needed a way to evaluate my patients to determine where the underlying dysfunction or weaknesses were, and how to individually tailor our response to those problems.

In addition to the basic NRT muscle testing, we add computerized heart rate variability tests, and a full-body systems questionnaire to evaluate the function and efficiency of the autonomic nervous system. It would be pointless to recommend certain supplements if the body can’t respond properly or use it once it’s in there. As in traditional Chinese medicine, the goal is to have all of the body’s systems functioning optimally, in balance and harmony.

Although we won’t be able to be as specific as an office visit, we are currently working on a way to put the full-body symptom questionnaire online so patients can complete and submit it for review. Once submitted, we will review the results and develop a comprehensive report that details the primary underlying systemic weaknesses that will allow us to formulate an individual supplementation plan. If we can get this up and running soon, we will be able to offer patients throughout the continental U.S. the opportunity to get a detailed and individualized plan which will take the guess work out of choosing which supplements will be most beneficial to take. If the patient chooses, they could then order and have their supplements shipped directly to them.

4. Chiropractic treatments kind of have a reputation as being for little old people with arthritic spines, but I see that you are doing much more. As a team chiropractor for the Missouri Mavericks hockey team you work with athletes in a very rough sport. What can chiropractic do for regular people who don’t play contact sports?

Wow… After a hundred fifteen years of research, treatment, and results, I hope the majority of people don’t still think of chiropractic as “being for little old people with arthritic spines.” But, perhaps you’re right in that most people don’t really know what we do, or the philosophy of chiropractic.

In short, chiropractic is a science and art within the health care field that focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system and how it affects the entire body. The underlying tenets would have to include the fact that the body is designed to heal itself and operate at homeostasis, or balance. The nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, controls and coordinates all of the body’s systems and is in charge of making sure the left hand knows what the right is doing. Disruption or interference within the nervous system can lead to pain, dysfunction, and disease. Instead of treating the symptoms of a condition, chiropractic attempts to treat the underlying dysfunction that is leading to the symptoms… thus facilitating the body to heal itself.

As with the medical field, there are emerging several specialties within the chiropractic community. There are chiropractic internists, radiologists, sports physicians, pediatricians, etc. The major difference between a DC and an MD is primarily that we don’t prescribe pharmaceuticals, and we don’t perform surgeries. If a patient would prefer a natural approach to health, the chiropractor is an essential part of their health care team. I have many patients who consider me their “primary care physician,” and we just refer them on in those cases where pharmaceuticals are necessary.

As for my role with the Mavs, most every professional sports team has a chiropractor on staff or associated. The reason is that optimal function of the neuromusculoskeletal system leads to optimal performance on the ice, on the gridiron, on the diamond, on the court, etc. With optimal function, you also minimize the risk of injury and optimize recovery. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Mavs since their inception and have seen some pretty crazy injuries. However, when it gets right down to it, there are many professions that are as hard on the body as hockey. For example, framing carpenters lift, carry, climb, walk on uneven surfaces, hammer, nail, etc. all day every day. The difference is, the carpenter doesn’t consider the athleticism of their occupation so they don’t focus on stretching before and after working, and they don’t tailor their diet to maximize their abilities to perform and recover. This leads to excess wear and tear on the body and results in premature degeneration. Most every profession has its own inherent stresses and strains. If optimal function benefits athletes by allowing them optimal performance, risk, and recovery… then why would the rest of us be any different? Everyone can benefit from optimal performance, minimal risk, and optimal recovery.

5. You certainly appear to be in excellent physical condition and you promote good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle in your practice at Gray Chiropractic. What do you do to keep yourself in top shape and how do you educate your patients about the importance of exercise and physical training as a part of healthy living?

I exercise several times per week, but not in a traditional manner. I’ve never been one who has been satisfied with sitting in the gym lifting weights. Frankly, it bores me. Therefore, I mix it up. Tennis, golf, hockey, running on the elliptical trainer, some weights, chasing the kids, walking the dogs, you name it. Most of the time, it’s not important how long or how hard you exercise… just that you do it! As for diet, I’m not a fanatic. I’m just realistic. I understand that the produce in our grocery stores has approximately 35-40% of the nutritional content of the same produce from 40 years ago. Therefore, I practice what I preach and take individualized supplements specific to my current state.

For my patients, my biggest obstacle is convincing them that living healthy is not as hard they may think. It’s not hard to drink more water, limit sugar and sweeteners, eat more raw or steamed veggies… and put the fork down. Reasonable portions and a little activity is a great start to improving health. I try to lead by example and give ideas to some. Some just need a motivating force or someone to be responsible to. Others, for one reason or the other, are not receptive. That’s okay, too… so long as the patient understands that he/she is the only one responsible for the consequences.

6. Many of our visitors don’t have gym memberships and don’t have access to exercise equipment. Can you suggest any exercises that they can do at home to strengthen their back and protect against back pain?

You bet! Strengthening the back and protecting against back pain starts with stabilizing the abdominal core muscles. Anyone can do a daily range-of-motion stretch in the lower back and torso. Add in abdominal planks to strengthen abs without aggravating the lower back like crunches sometimes do. Leg raises (front, back, and to side). You’d be amazed at how beneficial a good walk is for the back and core. An exercise ball ($18-20) makes for a cheap item that can incorporate and facilitate a ton of exercises. In the absence of even an exercise ball, look around and be creative. Fill a gallon milk jug with water and you’ve got a six pound dumbbell. You’ve probably got a ton of things in your kitchen that will tell you right on the package how much it weighs. You don’t need memberships or home gyms to get exercise… you just need motivation and to quit making excuses.

7. I read on your website that you have four daughters and that you are active in coaching and sponsoring their sports teams and other activities. It is very admirable that you find time in your busy schedule to be involved in their lives, and I am sure it is very rewarding as well.

What kind of advice do you have for your daughters and other young people, about protecting and caring for their backs now, to prevent back pain and other problems as they grow into their 30’s and 40’s and beyond? (And, how do you get them to listen?)

The old adage of “an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure,” is one of the most basic truths that too many of us forget to respect. Whether it’s my daughters, my patients, my neighbors, or anyone else, the only way to encourage prevention and healthy choices is to increase and enforce personal accountability. Regardless of whether it is related to school, health, sports, work, etc., my girls know and understand that they are in control of and determine their own destiny. I can guide, teach, show, and assist as much as I can, but it’s up to them determine their outcome. Actions lead to consequences… good or bad… period.

The same applies to health care. Unfortunately, our society has become too politically correct, and too often refuses to place blame where it belongs. It’s become “uncouth” to tell someone that 90% of their back pain is because they’re 50 pounds overweight. It’s “not cool” to tell someone their “depression” is because they won’t get off their ass and go outside. You want to improve health care in this country? Put the patient back in the equation. The patient should be in control, and should be responsible for all aspects of their personal health care choices. Once that happens, patients will take ownership of their bodies again. They will consider how Choice A vs. Choice B is going to affect their health, their pocketbook, and their reputation. My advice to young people is to take responsibility now for the consequences of your actions. Start thinking about what you want to do and where you want to be in ten years. Twenty years. Then take the actions that will get you there. Quit waiting on someone else to make the decision for you because they won’t be there when it’s time to pay the toll.

As for getting them to listen… if you ever figure out how to get a teenager to listen, please let me know!!!

Dr. Gray we certainly appreciate your direct approach and telling people the truth. Whenever you are teaching people about their health, the bottom line really is personal responsibility.

We want to thank Dr. Gray for taking the time to share his knowledge and expertise with us. As always with Dr. Gray, he cuts through the fog, and puts the truth right in front of you. How refreshing.

You can get more straight talk from Dr. Gray by visiting him at Gray Chiropractic in Independence, MO., and reading his blog posts. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on his website for the new online nutrition evaluation that he is developing.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Activity or Bed Rest For Low Back Pain?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, May 8, 2009

Considerable evidence in the past decade shows that bed rest is not beneficial to patients suffering from low back pain (LBP). However, the clinical relevance of these findings has been questioned because previous research did not differentiate between different types of LBP. Some speculation has also been put forth that because the supine position minimizes intradiscal pressure, bed rest may have different effects on LBP patients with vs. without sciatica.

This review by the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group analyzed all randomized studies up to March 2003, yielding two new trials comparing advice to rest in bed with advice to stay active for patients with LBP. Two reviewers independently assessed methodologic quality and extracted relevant data from the trials. In total, six trials compared bed rest with staying active for the management of LBP.


  • Advice to rest in bed is clearly less effective than advice to stay active for patients with acute simple LBP. There is high-quality evidence for small but consistent differences in favor of staying active for pain and functional status at 3-4 weeks follow-up. And at 12 weeks follow-up.
  • For patients with sciatica, there is moderate-quality evidence that advice to rest in bed has little or no effect on pain and functional status compared to stay-active advice at 3-4 weeks and 12 weeks.
  • For patients with acute simple LBP, there is high-quality evidence that advice to rest in bed will increase length of sick leave in the first 12 weeks, compared to advice to stay active. For patients with sciatica, advice to rest in bed has little or no effect on the length of sick leave compared to advice to stay active (based on moderate-quality evidence).
  • For patients with confirmed nerve root involvement, there are few or no differences between advice to rest in bed and advice to stay active.

Reference: Hagen KB, Jamtvedt G, Hilde G, Winnem MF. The updated Cochrane Review of bed rest for low back pain and sciatica. Spine, March 1, 2005;30(5):542-46.

In other words… for simple cases of lower back pain, your best bet is to stay active, stretch it out, and don’t baby it too much. If it is more complicated or involves the nerve roots, chiropractic care is your first line of defense.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Low Back Pain, Other Pain Conditions, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chiropractic vs. Medical for Low Back Pain

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, April 27, 2009

Among low back pain (LBP) sufferers who seek the services of a health care provider, an estimated 70% choose either a medical doctor or a doctor of chiropractic for care. In this study designed to compare the relative effectiveness of chiropractic vs. medical management of LBP patients, 2,870 adult patients with low back pain of mechanical origin (acute or chronic) were enrolled over a two-year period from the practices of 51 chiropractic clinics and 14 general practice community clinics in the area surrounding Portland, Oregon. At baseline and at various intervals over the next four years, patients rated the intensity of their current pain levels on a pain scale of 0-100, and completed a questionnaire designed to measure the effects of their pain on functional disability.

Results: The greatest degree of improvement was seen within three months of the initial treatment of back pain, with a “modest advantage” seen for chiropractic care over medical care of chronic pain patients in the first 12 months. At the one- and three-month intervals, “clinical importance” was achieved with chiropractic care administered to chronic LBP patients; comparing chiropractic vs. medical care, the average difference in pain scores was 12.2 points at one month and 10.5 points at three months, favoring chiropractic care.

In a separate analysis that categorized differences in care by leg pain, “a potentially clinically important advantage” for chiropractic care in chronic patients with pain radiating below the knee was also seen in the first 12 months following care. In this case, again comparing chiropractic vs. medical care, average differences in favor of chiropractic ranged between 18.3 points and 21.7 points in the first year for pain, and between 9.0 points and 13.9 points over the first three years for disability, using the pain scale.

“Our study supports the generalizability of systematic reviews of the efficacy of spinal manipulation for pain and functional disability to the effectiveness of chiropractic care in clinical practice,” the authors noted in their conclusion. “In terms of relative effectiveness, chiropractic care demonstrated advantage over medical care for chronic patients in the first year, particularly for those with leg pain radiating below the knee.”

Haas M, Goldberg B, Aickin M, et al. A practice-based study of patients with acute and chronic low back pain attending primary care and chiropractic physicians: two-week to 48-month follow-up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2004;27:160-169.

Dr. Gray’s Comments: Most of you know that I have developed a great working relationship with the local medical community… I am not an anti-medical kinda guy. There are times and conditions when traditional medicine is the treatment of choice. However, there are also times when chiropractic should be the first treatment of choice. Volumes of research have proven this case with regards to lower back pain. There have been many recent studies showing the same superior effectiveness with regards to neck pain and headaches, as well. As we become more inquisitive about ways to decrease the cost of health care, increasing amounts of research are proving the effectiveness and cost savings associated with chiropractic and other natural, non-invasive forms of treatment.

Not sure where I heard the following comparison, but I’ve always liked it. It’s not negative towards medicine, but sheds a little light on the differences in philosophy between chiropractic and medicine:

The conflict between medicine and chiropractic can be summed up quite simply:

  • Medicine believes that disease causes a lack of health.
  • Chiropractic believes that a lack of health is expressed as disease.

Therefore, Medicine treats “the disease,” while chiropractic addresses causes for a lack of health. Medicine primarily treats the symptoms of sick people, and Chiropractic primarily tries to treat the cause which has led to the symptoms.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, Herniated/"Slipped" Discs, Low Back Pain | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

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