Thursday, November 24, 2005

Activator Methods Doctors – Becoming Scarce

Fully qualified Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique doctors are going to be harder to find in the future.

Some of you may recall that, for many years, I was the Senior Clinical Instructor for Activator Methods in Australia and the only Australian member of the Clinical Advisory Board for Activator Methods International – the research centre for Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique. Those of you who have read the “Frequently Asked Questions” booklet that we give every new patient will also remember that there were only six Chiropractors in Australia that have the highest level of proficiency in Activator Methods (page 13). Since I wrote that booklet there has been a series of events that have now made it even more difficult to find a fully qualified Activator Methods practitioner.

The people who were organising the seminars are no longer doing so and the company that have taken it over are only running them very sporadically. Simultaneously, several of the previously mentioned highly qualified doctors have either retired from practice or are no longer using Activator Methods. This means that there are now only two of us left in Australia that have the appropriate combination of high level training and experience.

The cynics among you may think that this is good for me because I have a “monopoly” but this is not really the point. What it really means is that when patients ask me if there is someone near Preston (or wherever) who does what I do, to whom they can send their Aunty Betty, I have to say “no”. Poor old Aunty Betty has to either come to see me in Hampton or Southbank. Either that or take her chances with one of the older style “crackety-crunch” Chiropractors or hope that her neighbour’s Chiropractor “who has one of those little clickers too” (but is not trained or qualified to use it) doesn’t do too much damage.

Clinical Stuff

Over a period of several months in the last year I have been selecting patients at random and then asking them to fill out questionnaires at regular intervals throughout their treatment.

The questionnaires that I’ve been using are specifically designed for scientific and clinical research into quantifiable measures of pain and/or health for the purposes of evidence based practice standards.

The results were then calibrated and put into graph form which I’ve included here.

We can see that in every case there has been a substantial increase in the range of spinal motion and an equally substantial decrease in the overall pain levels for each patient.

The average reduction in the pain levels was 67.58% and the average increase in mobility was 33.37%. This is clear evidence of efficacy of this type of health care.

Cases From The Files

Eve had seen many Physiotherapists for neck pain, shoulder pains and headaches over a period of 7 years prior to coming to our clinic. Each time she saw a new physio she would get some relief for a short time but then would soon find that she had to return for treatment because her symptoms had returned. Eve found that her need for treatment was getting greater rather than less and she often felt that her neck was “out again” within an hour of the treatment. I assessed Eve as I would any other patient using both Activator Methods and Neurolink protocols. She certainly had some structural problems, but overriding these was a lack of effective communication between the left and right hemispheres of her brain. She had similar communication problems between the parts of the brain that coordinate eye movement with postural muscle control. All of these problems, in conjunction with the structural problems combined to produce a neurological storm that was creating havoc with Eve’s health. Within two weeks of treatment using both Activator Methods and Neurolink Eve was pain free and able to enjoy her life again.

It’s not at all unusual for me to see patients that have been attended to by many other practitioners before. I feel so sorry for these people because they are still searching for the health that they instinctively know is there birthright but they have either lost it along the way or have yet to achieve it. The most common scenario is one where the prior practitioners have treated the symptoms rather than taking a step back and trying to assess the bigger picture. The patient’s brain is the only thing on the planet that truly knows what is wrong with them. That’s why I always assess every patient from the brain’s “point of view” as well as from the symptomatic point of view. It was only by doing this that I was able to find and correct the problems that causing so much distress for Eve

Lana had a sudden bout of mysterious symptoms which included dizziness, nausea and fainting episodes. She had a slight fever but was an otherwise healthy 14 year old. When I examined her I found that she had poor integration between each cerebral cortex and between the cerebral cortices and the auditory centre of her brain. She also had some substantial structural problems with the way her pelvis and upper neck were functioning. After just one treatment with a combination of Neurolink and Activator Methods all of the dizziness, nausea and fainting disappeared and her temperature returned to normal.

It’s quite likely that had Lana’s parents taken her to the local GP she would have been given Stemetel® medication to stop the symptoms of dizziness. While that may have eliminated the symptoms, it would not have corrected the problem and simply left her reliant on drugs. However, once again we see that if there is any breakdown in the Brain – Body communication system illness will quickly ensue. We can also see that as soon as the brain recognises that there is something wrong it will correct it almost immediately.

Margaret had been suffering from persistent lactation since the birth of her last son 7½ years ago. Scans of her pituitary gland (which produces the hormones that control lactation) had shown nothing abnormal, yet after all that time she had continued to produce milk. She was prescribed medication that is designed suppress some of the functions of the pituitary gland so that she did not have to suffer the pain and embarrassment of breasts that are constantly engorged with milk. She also mentioned to me that she had quite significant jaw pain. When I examined her using both Activator Methods and Neurolink protocols I found that her jaw pain and her lactation were connected. Her jaw pain was caused by constant irregular contraction of the internal pterygoid muscle – a small muscle that helps to balance the jaw but one that is also closely associated with pituitary function. Neurolink corrections for the pituitary gland gave almost and total immediate relief from the jaw pain. From the time of the first correction she has not lactated and has come off the medication.

Every day I am reminded of the fact that everything in the human body is connected to everything else – there are no vacuums or Berlin Walls in the human system. Margaret’s persistent lactation was caused by the fact that her brain had failed to turn off the hormones that produce lactation when she no longer needed them. It’s almost as if her jaw pain was her body’s way of either trying to cope with the problem or trying to get her attention. When we focus only on symptoms and ignore the human being as a whole we are almost guaranteed to fail in our efforts to regain and maintain health. As soon as Margaret’s brain recognised what was wrong it corrected the problem totally and immediately.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Eureka Clinic

You may remember from the last newsletter that Dr Nicole McFarlane was going to be joining us at the clinic as an Associate. After six months of negotiations and with one hour to go before the contracts were to be signed we received a one line email advising that she was not going to go ahead with it. As you can probably imagine that came as quite a surprise and meant that we had to completely change our plans for the practice. Our initial plans for me to work at the Eureka practice on Mondays have had to be rearranged and therefore our clinic hours have had to alter too. I will be at Hampton from 9am-11am and from 3pm - 6:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I will be at the Eureka clinic from 12 noon - 2pm on the same days.

Those patients who were devotees of the Saturday appointments will note that we are no longer open on Saturdays. The idea of us being open on Saturdays was to provide clinic access to those patients who worked late during the week. The vast majority of these people were those who work in or near the city and who found it difficult to get to the clinic by 6:30pm.

The Eureka clinic will now provide better access for those patients as they can now have their adjustments during their lunch break, thus obviating the need to lose part of their weekend. Obviously the Eureka clinic is not necessarily only for city workers; anyone can have their treatment there. Appointments can be made by calling either the Hampton number (9597 0313 – any time) or the Eureka number (9696 8946 – Eureka session times). Due to the high level security systems in operation at Eureka Tower, there is a protocol that must be followed to gain access.

Elise or Emma will explain this to you when you make your appointment and will walk you through the process on your first visit. Once you’ve been shown what to do you will see that it’s really very simple.

Cases From The Files

James was 7 years old when his Mum brought him to me this January. He had been complaining of hip pain for three weeks and had seen two GPs without success. There was nothing remarkable about James’ past history except that he was born prematurely at 33 weeks and had always suffered from poor bowel and bladder control. He had not had any major injuries or falls that could explain the hip pain. All orthopaedic tests were normal but he did show very clear signs of pelvic dysfunction as well as a loss of cortical integration (brain control) of the lumbar spine and cerebral hemispheres.
I began the process of adjusting James’ pelvis and spine but at the same time corrected the brain control problems using Neurolink procedures. After the first treatment there was substantial relief from the hip pain. Within ten days James was not only pain free but had bowel and bladder control for the first time in his life. Since then he has shown excellent progress and continues with maintenance to enable him to run and tumble like a normal 7 year old.
Situations like James’ are not unusual. It appears that the premature birth may have contributed to his problem by rushing the brain into action before it was ready. This meant that while his brain was obviously working well enough for him to grow and function like a normal boy, there were still areas of brain function that were not quite ready for action. These areas were capable of function but had not yet “turned on” properly. Neurolink allowed me to find those areas and “turn them on”.

Ben came to me having lost his voice totally. He had suffered from a slight cold approximately two weeks prior but the cold didn’t seem to progress through its’ full course – he just had no voice instead. In assessing his brain function I discovered that his brain had failed to recognise fully that there was still a virus in his system. I corrected that recognition failure and asked him to return for reassessment in a week. When he returned he told me that after his adjustment and Neurolink correction he went for his walk as usual but then on the way home in the car his voice returned. That night he went through the rest of the cold symptoms that he’d missed out on two weeks before but when he awoke the next day he was completely normal.
Like all of us, Bens’ brain knows everything that’s going on inside him. However if there is some breakdown in that Brain–Body communication system then the brain cannot control all of the resources that it has at its’ disposal to keep us healthy. When this happens illness is not far away. Once Bens’ brain knew that there was still a virus in the system it very quickly (within 20 minutes!) got onto it and corrected it.

Karen had been suffering from hip, groin and buttock pain for her entire life. She was born breech with her legs crossed and both hips dislocated. Previous treatment with physiotherapy was not successful. I began treating her using advanced Chiropractic procedures and this produced very good results however those results never seemed to be permanent. After assessing her brain function I found that her brain had lost contact with the joint proprioceptors (the nerves around the joint that tell the brain where the joint is and how it’s working). Correction of that issue using Neurolink procedures produced instant pain relief that, for the first time in her life, has been permanent.
Once again we find that if the brain knows what and where the problem is it will correct it. The difficult and traumatic way in which Karen was born obviously created a breakdown in the Brain–Body connection between her brain and her hips. Once that connection was turned on again her brain resumed full control of the hips resulting in full and normal function.

Jane had a complicated range of symptoms that didn’t seem to follow any clear pattern. Her tummy was constantly bloated after eating and she needed to burp regularly. She had an ongoing battle with thrush that would apparently clear up with medical treatment but then would recur as soon as she got run down. Despite her best efforts, within ninety minutes of eating dinner each night she would fall asleep on the couch. She would sleep for around forty minutes but then she’d be wide awake and would have to read for thirty minutes before she could fall asleep again.
Neurolink analysis showed that her brain had not been controlling her liver function effectively. It also showed that she had a low grade bacterial infection in her liver which had not been recognised by the brain. After correcting both of these issues using the Neurolink protocols her thrush cleared within two days, never to return. She no longer falls asleep after meals, is no longer bloated and has more energy than ever before.
The problems the Jane had been experiencing began when she was in her early teens when she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Just prior to this she had suffered a hard knock to the head while playing basketball. I suspect that the CFS and her other ongoing problems were all part of the same Brain–Body connection problem that began with head blow. Once the brain was alerted to the problem it was very quickly able to correct it and restore her to normal health.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Has Your Brain Lost The Plot?

Since the earliest days of Chiropractic and Neuromuscoloskeletal Medicine we have held tight to the theory that spinal and structural pain has been the result of something that goes “out of place”. While this theory has served its purpose over the years and has allowed us to develop very safe and effective methods of treatment, there have always been lingering problems with trying to explain exactly why and how something went wrong.

Recent research by Dr Alan Phillips – the developer of Neurolink and Professor Uwe Proske from Monash University Department of Physiology has prompted us to start to look at the mechanisms of structural and neurological pain and dysfunction in a different way.

Dr Phillips found that contrary to current theory, the joints alone are not always the culprits. They don’t just go wrong and then irritate the muscles. In fact the brain temporarily loses control of the tiny intrinsic muscles that control the range of movement of each joint. This allows the joint to either lock or move beyond its normal range, which then causes the joints to become inflamed. The inflammation then spreads to the nearby nerves which, in part, go back to the intrinsic muscles – thus producing a vicious circle.

Prof. Proske found that contrary to current theory, fatigued muscles don’t get weak or go into spasm due simply to lack of exercise or a build up of lactic acid or other toxic by-products. In fact the brain temporarily loses its ability to judge the position of a joint when the muscles that operate the joint are fatigued. In states of fatigue with the absence of accurate control feedback the brain cannot accurately maintain proper control of the structure.

What does this mean to us from a clinical perspective?

1. It allows us to more fully understand how and why things go wrong with our body. This has given us the opportunity to develop new and vastly more effective approaches to the diagnosis and management of health issues that were until now either mysterious at worst or simply frustrating at best.

2. Greater understanding has enabled us to more clearly explain to patients what went wrong and how it happened. This gives the patient a much clearer perspective, not only on what they can do to help their current dilemma but also on what they can do to help avoid a recurrence in the future.

3. It has broadened the range of problems that we are able to help while simultaneously enabling us to manage the familiar problems much more quickly, effectively and permanently.

Traditional forms of treatment such as manipulation, stretching and exercises etc. have served us well enough over the last century but time has shown their limitations. It is very rare now for me to see a new patient who has not already had some form of prior treatment from a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or Medical Practitioner. Obviously these have not achieved the desired long term result for that patient, otherwise they would not be here seeing me. Almost without exception the patients have had some form of positive result from the traditional treatments but the problem has either recurred or did not completely go away.

When I assess these patients from a perspective that includes brain function in the diagnosis, I almost always find that there is some underlying issue with the way the brain has been controlling the body that has not been corrected. Once that problem has been addressed, not only does the problem for which the patient sought treatment resolve, but many other health issues tend to resolve also. In fact one of the most common things that patients say to me after we have used the Neurolink protocols to resolved these “brain control” issues is that they had no idea that it was possible to feel so good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes we have questions and sometimes we ask them……other times we make up answers to the questions we never asked. Here are the answers.
Chiropractic is a branch of the health sciences which focuses upon the body's neuromusculoskeletal system. A Chiropractor is concerned with how your body's skeletal and nervous system is functioning. Since your spine is the key highway for your central nervous system, a Chiropractor is trained to use a variety of diagnostic methods to examine and treat your spine and bone structure.
Although the major focus of Chiropractic is on the spine and central nervous system, your Chiropractor is concerned with the wellness of your whole body. Since your nervous system determines how well you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally, many problems you are experiencing may be related to a problem with your spine and nervous system.
Chiropractors believe in whole body wellness. Wellness means many things to different people. To your Chiropractor, wellness is the state of health where your body is free of interruption or interference to any part of your nervous system, enabling you full expression and enjoyment of life. Chiropractic care works to ensure that your nervous system is working fine, and this enhances your well being. Your Chiropractor will discover any problems that are interfering with your nervous system and through hands-on-healing will work with you to eliminate them. After Chiropractic care your body will be better able to heal itself. This, in turn, aids your body in maintaining optimum health and contributes to your overall wellness. Chiropractors believe in a holistic approach to health and healing, and have spearheaded this powerful health care trend throughout Australia, Europe and North America.
No, your back can't "go out". The only way that your spine or vertebrae can be "out of place" is if they're dislocated - if that happens you either die or end up in the Spinal Ward. What really happens when we feel something go wrong in our back and it feels like it's "out" is that the vertebrae lock or stick together. Your spine was designed to move all the time, even while you're asleep. While-ever the spine moves, nothing much goes wrong but if the vertebrae lock, stick together or jam then trouble is not far away. The correct term for a locked or jammed vertebra is subluxation.
Within 24 hours of your vertebrae subluxating your body registers that joint as "broken". In order to fix the "broken" joint, the body infuses an enzyme into the cartilaginous joint surface to dissolve the cartilage so it can fuse the "broken" joint together. If we examine a freshly subluxated joint after a couple days we will see that the joint surface and the capsule surrounding the joint is swollen. After a few weeks the joint surface starts to become pitted with small holes. A little longer and the joint surface begins to break down. This then becomes the onset of joint damage, which then leads to Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis).
While all this joint damage and irritation is occurring, the surrounding area becomes very inflamed. Inflammation produces a host of nasty biochemical by-products that are highly toxic to nerves. The anatomy of the spine is such that the nerve roots that come from the spinal cord lie right next to the joints. The joints have an enormously rich nerve supply, which is connected to the spinal cord. The toxic byproducts irritate the nerve roots and severely interfere with the nerve's ability to transmit its signals clearly. You may feel this abnormal signal as pain, numbness or pins-and-needles. You may also have no sensation at all. Depending on which nerve and which part of the nerve is affected you may have weakness in a limb or muscle group (too little nerve impulse), cramps or spasms (too much nerve impulse), or you may have changes in the way an organ or organ system works.
No, it's almost impossible to pinch a nerve. Unless there has been extensive narrowing of the discs between the vertebrae or the vertebra is broken there is plenty of room for the nerve to get through without being pinched. If a vertebra subluxates the body produces a lot of inflammation around the joint. The inflammation and its byproducts are quite toxic to the nerve and it's the nerve's response to these toxins and inflammation that we feel as a "pinched nerve".
There are really three questions here:
  1. "How will it take before I feel any better?"
  2. "How long will it take before my spine is working properly?"
  3. "How long will it take before it's as good as it can be?"

Therefore there are three answers. Obviously the answers to these questions will be different for every patient.


  • The older the problem, the longer it takes.
  • The older the patient, the longer it takes.
  • The more damage to the joints, the longer it takes.
  • The more other practitioners have unsuccessfully treated it, the longer it takes.

Assuming none of the above factors are outside the average, the usual time periods are:

  1. "How long will it take before I feel any better?" Some patients feel better immediately. Others may not feel any different for 3-4 weeks. Most feel significant improvement within 1-2 weeks.
  2. "How long will it take before my spine is working properly?" The shortest time one could expect here is about 1 month, the longest could be up to 4 months, most common is between 6-10 weeks.
  3. "How long will it take before it's as good as it can be?" The shortest time one could expect here is about 3 months, the longest could be up to 18 months, most common is between 6-12 months.

Why does it take so long to correct when it only hurt recently?

Generally we tend to think of the time-of-onset of the problem and the time-of-onset of the symptoms as being the same thing. They're not. To help us understand this problem lets use a heart attack as an example.

There is a strong hereditary link with heart attacks so most people who have them have the gene that makes it easier for them to have them - but you don't feel that. Then there are the years of poor diet and insufficient exercise - but you don't feel that. There are the years of high blood pressure and high cholesterol - but you don't feel that. Added to the mix is some stress and a buildup of plaque on the coronary arterial walls - but you don't feel that. Eventually a plaque comes loose or simply gets so big that it blocks the artery and you have a heart attack - you do feel that. So when did the heart attack start? When the artery was blocked? With the last meat pie you had or the walk you didn't take? No it began many years before you had any idea that it was even a possibility.

Now that you've had your heart attack, how long will it take for you recover? When they get you to the hospital and the pain is controlled with medication? After you have the triple bypass operation? No, it will take you many months - you may never be completely over it because the tissue is damaged.

Let's put that same process into play with a subluxation. There is a strong hereditary link with vertebral subluxation so most people who have them have the gene that makes it easier for them to have them - but you don't feel that. Then there are the years of incorrect and insufficient exercise - but you don't feel that. There are the years of little bumps and falls and sprains - but you don't feel that. Added to the mix is some stress and a sedentary job - but you don't feel that.

Eventually a joint locks or simply gets so worn, damaged and inflamed that it irritates the nerve and you have a "back attack" - you do feel that. So when did the vertebral subluxation start? When the joint locked? With the last pencil you bent over to pick up or the walk you didn't take? No it began many years before you had any idea that it was even a possibility.

Now that you've had your "back attack", how long will it take for you to recover? When they get you to the hospital and the pain is controlled with medication? After you have the first adjustment? No, it could take you months - if it's bad enough you may never be completely over it because the tissue is damaged.

Joints that are allowed to function incorrectly for a long time become worn and damaged just like parts in your car. They can become so worn and damaged that, regardless of treatment, they are never normal again. The main difference here is that there are no spare parts for you spine.

Usually though, even the most damaged and dysfunctional joints can be helped to some degree. If the problem is truly recent and the damage is not too severe they can usually be returned to complete normality, but it takes time.

Once the pain is gone, do I have to keep coming?

That's entirely up to you. Some people only want to be treated for a specific pain or illness, and when the symptoms disappear they stop going. Others use Chiropractic care to fully correct the underlying cause of the symptoms and to remain feeling really well. Like a car, your body has constant stress and wear, and it benefits from a 'tune-up'. However, which treatment approach you want is always your choice.

If you wanted to get fit and started going to the gym, once you had achieve your desired level of fitness would you then stop exercising? Of course not, you would very soon finish up just as unfit as you were to begin with - you would have wasted all that effort and money. It's the same with your spine. Like exercise, it takes a fair amount of work to get your spine "fit", but once your spine is "fit" it doesn't take much extra work to keep it that way.

Doesn't cost a fortune?

No. Many of the pain-killers and drugs you buy to treat pain and illness cost more than Chiropractic care. Yet Chiropractic care treats more than the symptoms of poor health, it treats the underlying cause. It also helps to restore and maintain good health - without using any drugs.

Maintaining a car costs about $8,500 a year. Chiropractic care costs a fraction of that.

Does it hurt to get your spine adjusted?

Not at all. Chiropractic adjustments are comfortable and safe for the whole family, from infants to pregnant women and the elderly. For hundreds of thousands of Australians, visiting a Chiropractor is just routine - like regular dental check-ups.

Do medical doctors recommend Chiropractic care?

Most do, and many medical doctors and their families are being treated by Chiropractors. Patients are referred to us on a regular basis from GP's, Medical Specialists, Dentists, Physiotherapists and Podiatrists.

What can I do to help myself?

It's vital that you go for a 10-minute walk immediately after your adjustment before you get in the car. If you get in the car and drive immediately after your adjustment you will lose around 50% of the benefit.

The best thing that you can do to help your spine return to normal function is to use it normally. In most cases it's not necessary to put yourself in "cotton wool", simply use your common sense and move frequently and carefully. The more you walk and the more you move - the better you'll be.

How should I lift?

Get Up Close & Personal

  1. Face the object.
  2. Get as close to the object as possible.
  3. Get the best possible grip.
  4. Tuck your bottom under your shoulders.
  5. Test the weight.
  6. Stand up.
  7. Carry the weight as close as you can to your belt buckle - that's where your center of gravity is.

Keep Your Nose Between Your Toes And Your Head Over Your Butt

The forces that your spine must cope with while you're lifting are around 25 times higher if you twist or move the weight out from your body. The further you move the weight away from your body or its' centerline, the greater that magnification factor becomes.

Move Your Feet

This follows on from the point above. If you have to lift something from "here" to "there", face it, lift it, move your feet so you're facing where you want to put it and then put it down the same way you picked it up. Don't lift and twist - especially while you're sitting. That's probably the most common cause of acute low back pain that we see.

How should I sit or sleep?


Move your bottom right to the back of the chair so it's resting against the backrest. This will help prevent you slumping. Move your chair up close to your desk so the edge of the desk is almost at your tummy. You may have to rearrange your monitor and keyboard to fit, but it's worth it.


Sleep on your back or your side, not on your tummy. Some people suffering from low back pain find it more comfortable to have a pillow under their knees when they’re on their back or a pillow between their knees when on their side.


The old concept of a hard bed being good for your back is rubbish. The ideal bed has a rigid or slatted base with a soft mattress. The slatted base prevents the bed from sagging like a banana; the soft mattress allows your body to be supported evenly without pressure spots at the hips or shoulders. The combination of a latex mattress on a slatted base is very good and it has the added benefit that it lasts a very long time.


One good pillow is better than two or three old, worn out pillows. General rules of thumb are:

  • The harder your bed - the higher the pillow you need, the softer your bed - the lower the pillow you need.
  • Broader shoulders need a higher pillow; narrower shoulders need a lower pillow.
  • If you sleep mostly on your side you need a higher pillow, if you sleep mostly on your back you need a lower pillow.
  • Fibre, feather or down filled pillows tend to collapse after a short time so we generally recommend either latex or good quality molded polyurethane pillows. Those made by Dunlopillow and Dentons have both shown good results to date.
  • Some people who sleep on their side and have wide hips find that a pillow between their knees at night often eases chronic hip or low back pain.

What should I avoid?

Don't Lie On The Couch

Beds are for lying in, chairs are for sitting in. If you lie on the couch you will mess up your spine faster than it can be corrected. It doesn't matter how comfortable it may feel at the time, if you lie on the couch you will damage your spine - it's that simple.

Don't Fall Asleep In A Chair

Beds are for lying in, chairs are for sitting in. If you fall asleep in a chair you will mess up your spine faster than it can be corrected. It doesn't matter how comfortable it may feel at the time, if you fall asleep on the chair, even it's "just for a couple of minutes", you will damage your spine - it's that simple.

Don't Sit Up In Bed

Beds are for lying in, chairs are for sitting in. If you prop yourself up in bed to read or watch TV you will mess up your spine faster than it can be corrected. It doesn't matter how comfortable it may feel at the time, if you sit up in bed you will damage your spine - it's that simple.

Don't Lie On The Floor

Beds are for lying in, floors are for standing on. If you lie on the floor you will mess up your spine faster than it can be corrected. It doesn't matter how comfortable it may feel at the time, if you lie on the floor you will damage your spine - it's that simple. I know that's repetitive but those things really will do you harm. I'm constantly amazed at the way people want to sleep in a chair, or sit up in a bed, or lay on the floor and then they wonder why their back is sore!?! All you have to do is use the furniture for what it was designed - it's that simple.

Watch Your Step

One of the most effective ways to hurt your spine is to miss a step, unexpectedly step in a hole, or walk off the edge of the gutter without seeing it. Even though it's generally only a very short drop of a several centimetres, it's the unexpected nature of it that catches your spine unaware. You would probably do less harm falling 1m than missing a step of 10cm because in the time it takes you to fall 1m your reflexes are ready for the jolt. The time it takes you to fall 10cm is too short for your reflexes to prepare for the impact, with the result that the jolt goes directly to your spine unhindered by muscle protection.

What should I do for extreme pain?

If you’re in extreme pain or your back is in spasm there are few simple things that you can do to help yourself until you get an adjustment. These tips are also useful until your body has completely recovered from the crisis.

Call the Clinic

The first thing you should do is to call the clinic. If Dr Wenban can’t come to the phone leave a message with the Receptionists or on the answering machine. Dr Wenban will return your call as soon as possible and give you advice about how to handle the problem. What you do in the first few hours makes a big difference to how quickly you recover so it’s vital that you contact us as soon as possible.


Apply ice to the area for 20 minutes then take it off for 20 minutes. Repeat this for 2 hours then have a break for two hours, repeat it again for two hours after the break. At first it will be very cold and slightly uncomfortable. It will then ache slightly and then it will go numb – numb is the goal. The benefits of the ice pack are that it reduces muscle spasm and inflammation. Note: Always have the ice pack wrapped in a dry cloth – never apply it directly to your skin or you can cause frost-bite.


Rest is important during a crisis. It’s best to lie down rather than to sit. There is approximately six times more pressure on the discs in your lower back when you’re sitting than when you’re lying. Normally, it’s only advisable to rest for the first 24-48 hours. After that it’s time to gradually begin to move.


After the initial resting period you can begin moving around gently and carefully. Begin by walking around the house. Be careful where you put your feet to avoid slipping or tripping. Short walks around the house every hour is a good way to start, this can then be increased gradually according to tolerance. The aim is to get you moving again as quickly as possible.

Should I do exercises?

Yes you should do exercise - not only for the well being of your spine and central nervous system, but for the well-being of your entire body. However there are some exercises that are very good for you and others that are very bad for you.

What are good exercises?


Walking is what humans were designed for. Put simply; the more you walk, the better you will be. Walking is the best exercise for your spine, but it's also very good for your heart, lungs, legs, tummy, bottom and mind. If the only exercise you ever did was a brisk 30 minute walk every day you would be fitter than the vast majority of the population. You would also have much better control over your weight, more energy, be more alert and able to concentrate better and you would sleep better. On top of all those benefits is the fact that it's free, you don't need flash equipment, you don't need lessons and you don’t need a membership.


Swimming is the only form of exercise that you can do while you're weightless, unless you live in space. Avoid breaststroke - the sideways action of the kick can hurt your sacro-iliac joints and bending your head back to breathe can hurt your neck. When you swim freestyle breathe both ways so you exercise both sides of your neck.


Cycling is a good aerobic exercise. Apart from avoiding falling off the only thing to watch out for with cycling is the set-up of your bike. It's important that the seat height, pedal reach and handlebar reach are adjusted to suit you. Your local bike shop can usually help you with this.

What are bad exercises?

Jolting and Twisting

These are the only two types of action that the human frame does not cope with very well. Any sport or exercise routine that incorporates either or both of these two actions must be considered a high-risk proposition. Jogging, Aerobics and Squash all have a lot of either jolting and/or twisting and therefore can cause enormous loads on your skeletal system. Spinal Twists as done in some stretching routines and some forms of yoga can create a lot of problems in the pelvis. They have also been shown in some cases to cause tearing of the discs in the spine and separation of the sacro-iliac joints.

What about Golf and Tennis?


The twisting movement of the golf swing does a small amount of damage, but the walk between each shot tends to undo the damage. The two most important rules to remember with golf are:

  1. Push your buggy If you pull your buggy you will be walking with your shoulders and your pelvis out of parallel i.e. twisted, but if you push it your shoulders and pelvis stay parallel - no twist.
  2. Keep off the driving range The driving range involves all twist and no walking so you never give your spine a chance to undo the damage of the twist with a walk between each shot. Plus if you hit low on the golf course you will simply take a divot, but if you hit low on the driving range you will hit the mat, which will jar you.


Tennis usually doesn't cause too many problems while ever you play on en-tout-cas (clay) or grass. These two surfaces allow a bit of slip, which reduces the impact on your body. Rebound Ace, bitumen, concrete and Plexipave are very grippy and produce similar forces to those encountered playing squash. Modgrass is OK as long as there is a lot of sand.

Is Chiropractic good for children?

Children benefit enormously from Chiropractic. With all the bumps and falls that occur during childhood, it's a wonder that some of us make it to adulthood. Most of the problems that we see in adult patients are usually only old childhood problems that have simply been ignored. The old maxim that "You will grow out of it" could not be further from the truth. Most injuries that children receive end up being grown 'in to' not 'out of'. "As the twig is bent, so the tree grows" sums it up nicely. Slightly subluxated children grow up to be very badly subluxated, degenerative and ill adults. Therefore we strongly suggest that you have your children checked regularly.

Should I have my kids checked or wait until they complain?

Kids will often only complain about an ache or pain if it's severe and even then only for a day or two. After that they simply assume that it's something they have to live with and they stop complaining. Many illnesses that are assumed to be "normal" childhood conditions can be caused or aggravated by spinal subluxations. The most common of these are ear infections, throat infections and colic in infants. Growing pains are often referred pains from spinal subluxations that can be quickly and safely treated with Chiropractic. Even the process of birth can create problems, especially in cases of forceps delivery, caesarian section or vacuum extraction. Therefore it's generally a good idea to have your kids checked just after birth and then about every 3 months from then on. If they have a major fall or accident have them checked as soon as possible.

Can I still be helped if I have.......?


While there are well over 130 different types of arthritis, the two most common forms are Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Patients suffering with either of OA or RA can be helped through Chiropractic. There are less common forms of arthritis that involve joint infection or neoplastic change. Because Chiropractic adjustments normalise joint movement they also relieve stresses within the joints. Recent research has shown that patients suffering from OA or RA who receive adjustments have significantly less pain and discomfort and increased function.

Disc degeneration

Degeneration of the discs is usually caused by long term joint dysfunction. Often the pain that a patient feels is blamed on the disc degeneration but is actually caused by the joint dysfunction that caused the disc to degenerate in the first place. Correction of the joint function through adjustment often gives great relief.

Disc prolapse, tear or bulge

Discs will only prolapse, tear or bulge if they’ve already been under enormous strain for a long time. This usually occurs when there has been joint dysfunction for a long time. Unless the disc has burst and its contents are pressing on the spinal cord or nerve roots, clinical experience and research has shown that patients with disc damage do better with specific adjustments than with bed rest or surgery.

A history of spinal surgery

Spinal surgery is normally a last resort measure to relieve nerve or spinal cord pressure. While it is often successful in its primary aim, it does nothing to correct the problem that created the damage that required the surgery in the first place. Chiropractic can be very effective in these cases.

Are there any side effects from the treatment?

There are very few unpleasant side effects.

Occasionally some patients feel a little light-headed for a few minutes after the adjustment but that quickly passes. Other patients may feel tired or a slight muscular ache over that day or the following day, as if they've done extra exercise. This is simply muscles and joints working in ways that they're not used to. It passes very quickly.

If there is significant discomfort after your adjustment you should call the clinic and tell Dr Wenban what you’re feeling. Generally a short course of mild anti-inflammatory medication such as Act-3 or Nurofen is enough to get you through the discomfort until your body settles.

There are many pleasant side effects.

Research has shown that around 23% of patients receive some unexpected beneficial side effect from adjustments. The range of these is quite amazing and included "easier to breathe", "asthma better", "digestion improved", "less stomach pain", "improved circulation", "less tachycardia", "sharper vision", "better hearing", "less ringing in the ears", "easier to urinate", "less urine frequency", "dysmenorrhoea better", "acne/eczema better", and "less nausea".

The majority of my patients tell me at some point in their treatment that they did not realize how bad their health was until they got better. They also tell me that many things about their general health have improved that they did not know were wrong until they improved. The reason for that is simple; if your health has never been normal you don't know what normal feels like, until you get it, and then you never forget it.

Are there any risks associated with Chiropractic treatment?

Even the most basic forms of Chiropractic are very safe. The most recent research published in the October 2001 Canadian Medical Association Journal puts the risk at one in 5.8 million adjustments.

Keep in mind that these figures are based on the most basic forms of manipulative Chiropractic which carry a higher risk than the precise, gentle and non-manipulative adjustments that we use in this clinic.

How does that compare with the risks of other forms of treatment?

A common medical treatment for neck pain, use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen, causes 1,000 serious complications and 100-200 deaths per million cases. Surgeries for neck pain cause 15,600 cases of paralysis or stroke per million cases, and 6,900 deaths per million.

Modes of Treatment

Activator Methods

What is that little clicker that you use?

Often we use a small handheld instrument called an Activator Instrument to adjust the vertebrae. The instrument produces a thrust that is extremely fast. In fact, it is faster than you can see or feel. The Instrument produces around 120 Newtons of force in less than 1/1000ths of a second. The fastest that your body can perceive a pressure change and then try to oppose that pressure change is 17/1000ths of a second. This means that the Instrument can produce enough pressure to move the bone faster than you can feel and faster than your body can resist.

What we have then is an extremely effective yet totally painless adjustment. Two of the many advantages that this system has over the old "crack and crunch" manipulative systems are that it is extremely accurate and very gentle. It therefore does not traumatise the spine, thus enabling much better long-term results.

What does the Activator Instrument do?

There are three effects associated with Activator Instrument adjustments; bone movement, nerve stimulation and muscle activation. The Instrument moves subluxated (stuck) joints, it stimulates and normalises the nerve supply around the joint and it balances the muscles contracting around the joint.

My last Chiropractor had one of those instruments and it didn't help me at all, why should this time be different?

Approximately 1 in 3 Chiropractors have an Activator Instrument, however there are only 6 Chiropractors in Victoria with any level of qualification to use it. There are only 3 in Australia and 22 in the world who have the same level of qualification as Dr. Wenban. Most general practitioners have a scalpel but that does not make them surgeons. Similarly, simply because a person has the equipment doesn’t mean they are qualified or know how to use it.

Why do you bend my legs up and down?

When you lie on the table, Dr. Wenban will measure your leg length, comparing one to the other whilst they are straight and while they are bent at 90°. This tells him if there is any imbalance or subluxation with your spine or central nervous system. If there is such a problem, there will be a better nerve supply on one side of your body than the other. This will cause the muscles on one side of your body to contract more than those on the other and that will cause one leg to "pull up" more than the other making one leg appear shorter.

After adjusting each subluxation with an accurately placed thrust from the Activator Instrument, the legs will usually balance out to an equal length. Dr. Wenban will then ask you to put your arms or head into a certain position. Each one of these positions puts a small strain onto a specific vertebra. If that vertebra is not functioning properly or is subluxated, then the nerve imbalance will return, causing the leg length inequality to return. The adjustment is performed and the vertebra re-tested. If the adjustment was effective, the legs will level out. Dr. Wenban will move on to the next vertebra, testing each one in turn and adjusting as necessary.

Why is one leg stronger than the other?

When a vertebra or joint subluxates it causes interference with the nerves that pass that joint. If the nerve signal to a limb or organ is reduced then the ability of that limb or organ to function fully and normally is also reduced. This is the same effect as turning down the dimmer on a light globe. When Dr Wenban tests the strength of a limb he is really testing the nerve supply to that area. If one side is weaker than the other that tells him that there is nerve interference that needs to be corrected.


Sacro-Occipital Technique is an advanced form of Chiropractic that uses the gentle rhythmic movement that your spine makes as you breathe in conjunction with your own body weight.

What are the blocks for?

S.O.T works on the balanced relationship between the Sacrum, (the wedge shaped bone at the base of your spine), and the Occiput, (the bone that makes up the base of your skull). Adjustments using S.O.T. are primarily performed by using two wedge shaped blocks that are placed under the pelvis in a specific position. The blocks utilise the patient's body weight to correct abnormalities in the function of the sacroiliac joints. These joints are at the base of the spine on either side of the sacrum.

The sacroiliac joints are extremely important and very complex. They transfer all the weight from the body to the legs via the pelvis; they form the "foundation stone" for the entire spinal system and they allow microscopic movement of the sacrum to take place. This movement occurs in harmony with an equally microscopic expansion and contraction of the skull as you breathe.

The two movements together are as important to the central nervous system as breathing is to the lungs, for they pump the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord. This fluid provides essential nutrients to the entire central nervous system. It also helps to eliminate wastes and acts as a shock absorber to cushion the brain against any blows or shocks.

The inherent balance that is provided to the entire body by the pelvis must be maintained at all times. Therefore any functional abnormality or subluxation of the sacroiliac joints can cause a vast array of problems throughout the entire spine and central nervous system, which can then cause many diverse and often seemingly unrelated symptoms. In fact, not only lower back pains but also many headaches, neck, shoulder and arm pains and even jaw pains have been traced back to abnormal balance within the pelvis and sacroiliac joints.

Why are they placed unevenly?

The blocks are placed in very precise positions and at exact angles depending on the problem that you have. The angles may vary from visit to visit as can the depth to which each block is placed. The leverage provided by the asymmetrical placement of the blocks, in conjunction with the movement that your skull, spine and sacrum make as you breathe, corrects abnormalities in the function of the spine and pelvis.

Why is that spot on the back of my head sore?

There are small reflex points across the base of your skull that are related to each vertebra. If a vertebra becomes subluxated (dysfunctional) the reflex point associated with that vertebra becomes slightly enlarged and tender. By gently rubbing the reflex point and holding gently pressing on it’s associated vertebra Dr Wenban can correct the subluxation while using the very minimum of force.

Why Spinal Maintenance?

All day, every day, every person who is upright and mobile develops some form of subluxation. Our human body is such a brilliantly designed machine that it is able to correct probably 99% of those problems all by itself without us ever knowing about it. The problem is with the 1% that it can't correct. That is what builds up over a lifetime and eventually brings us to grief. If we are lucky, it will hurt at the early stages. We might even be lucky enough to have been educated to take some notice of pain, rather than covering it up with pills and "soldiering on". This being the case, we may then seek some help from a properly qualified Chiropractor trained in the detection and correction of subluxations and end up as healthier beings.

As we all know, this is usually not the case. We have been educated over many generations to ignore what our body tells us and literally drive it until it drops. Most people look after their car better than their body. They put in the best fuel and have it serviced and regularly maintained. Yet a car is dispensable! When it no longer performs at its' best you can trade it in on a new one; you can replace almost any worn part.

This is not the case with our spine or central nervous system. If it wears out or gets damaged then that's just tough! You can't trade it in when you get sick of it. You have to put up with it and travel around in it for the rest of your life. There are no replacement parts for the spine or central nervous system and it's extremely unlikely that there ever will be in our lifetime. Yet our spine and central nervous system is what controls virtually every single function that our body performs.

Therefore, it should be patently obvious that regular spinal checkups to detect and correct subluxations should be part of our normal routine. When you are having regular spinal maintenance, Dr. Wenban can check your spine from end to end and adjust any subluxations that have accumulated along the way since your last adjustment.

Doing this means that you don't have to spend your life wrapped in cotton wool for fear of producing another subluxation. You can simply get on with life, living it to the full, secure in the knowledge that even if you do fall over or have a problem, it will never get a chance to become entrenched. With regular spinal maintenance and a little common sense, there is no reason why all of us should not have strong, healthy spines and optimised health for our entire life. Maintenance means you can feel good all of the time.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


What is Neurolink?

Neurolink is a profound system of healthcare, that uses the only 100% accurate diagnostic tool available on the planet – the BRAIN (not the mind).
Neurolink is a complete system that will care for your health problems and needs, in much the same way as people choose to use drugs, surgery, alternative therapies and nutritional supplements to treat their problems.
But Neurolink, is NONE of these, and MORE than all of these.
Neurolink approaches healthcare within the neuro-physiological context. It represents a systematic evaluation of all the possibilities (going on in the body) that may have translated themselves in to symptoms of pain, illness and disease
First of all, research supports, your brain (not to be confused with your mind) knows about, and is in control of all your body’s systems – that is: every cell, gland (organ), muscle, and tissue in your body.
Your brain totally governs what is 100% optimum health for you as an individual. The brain operates within a template or set of parameters, that dictate your individual, ‘normal’.
When the body ‘breaks down’ – either physically, pathologically, chemically or emotionally, we start to experience symptoms of pain/feeling unwell. This happens because the body has exceeded its individual threshold of tolerances. When this happens, there is activity that is now outside what the brain has dictated to be your template of ‘normal’. The brain no longer ‘knows about’ or controls this activity, and that is when problems arise.
The Neurolink physician utilizes a system of sequential protocols to go through and check on your body’s ‘normal’. Where there is abnormal activity, the brain will become confused and will not recognize the problem.
The Neurolink physician is a facilitator in feeding back to the brain, that there is an abnormality. Once the brain can identify the problem, the BRAIN (not the practitioner) can the correct the problem.
The data that is fed back from the brain, reveals the underlying CAUSES of symptoms, exposing the brain’s profound ability to restore the body to its individual, full potential.
Only the brain holds the key to our optimum health.
“Therefore….the brain is the most qualified medical specialist we will ever have.”

What Neurolink Is Not…
Is not a technique. It is a complete system.
Is not…An alternative medicine modality. It is a ‘stand alone’ system of healthcare.
Is not…an esoteric, mind, body, soul modality.
Is not…Manipulative, mind-altering, hypnotic or invasive.
Is not stressful to the body.
Is not…Reliant on the knowledge or perceptions your physician holds about your symptoms.
Does not require….Adjunctive ‘props’, drugs, special diets or homework exercises to be effective.

Why Does The Body Break Down In The First Place?
We have already mentioned that the brain works within a set of parameters. These parameters are essentially thresholds of stress. The body can be stressed physically, emotionally, chemically, and pathologically.
The meaning of stress, and how each individual reacts to it varies. How it affects our individual health will vary. Our tolerance levels to the same stresses will be different. Therefore what is stressful for you to the extent of affecting your health will be completely different for the person next to you.
When YOUR threshold of tolerance is exceeded, YOUR body breaks down.
Lets use physical stress as an example. In a tennis game, when you lunge for a difficult shot, and stress a thigh muscle beyond its pre-set level of tolerance, the brain will intervene. The muscle’s ability to contract now becomes limited so muscle damage is minimized.
What happens now? The body endeavours to compensate for the weakened thigh muscle by shifting responsibility to muscles of lesser strength. This then leads to potential instability of your spine, pelvis, knee and foot. Referred pain is what the patient experiences, as a result of this weakened ‘link’ in a chain of command

Who Can Receive Neurolink Care?
Everyone. Techniques sometimes exclude certain groups of people, but Neurolink is a complete system. No one is exempt including those in the following categories:
New born (a large part of Neurolink clientele)
Very old and frail (Neurolink requires very little patient co-operation/stress)
Immobilised limbs in cast/traction
Physically disabled/amputees
Wheelchair confined including paraplegic/quadriplegic
Pregnant women right up to the day before birth
Mentally impaired
Neurolink is designed for everyone, no matter how well or how sick. It is very gentle, involves NO stress of the body at all, and requires very little patient co-operation. With this in mind, it is no surprise the very young, the older generation and the terminally ill make up a large percentage of Neurolink patients

What will happen to me in a Neurolink session?
A Neurolink practitioner looks at your body in a different way than most practitioners.
We work on the premise that your brain (not your mind) infinitely knows EXACTLY what YOUR body needs - to be completely well. A Neurolink practitioner ‘taps’ in to that information.
We look at whether the brain understands and is controlling your body’s systems – that is your muscles, tendons, glands, organs etc. We view your body as a highly integrated set of ‘circuits’. When all the ‘circuits’ are intact, the brain has control over our bodies, ensuring optimum wellness. That is – our food breaks down fully and is absorbed properly, our structures are in correct alignment, inflammation and pain are quickly suppressed, antigens are eliminated rapidly and healing is quick.
However……circuits can break, due to excessive physical, emotional, chemical or pathogenic stresses. Then the brain is no longer able to control the problem. The body loses it’s optimum state and that’s when the symptoms we feel, start to show.
The aim of a Neurolink session is to find out which circuits are no longer intact and re-establish (reconnect if you like) the brains control over them.
The first time you visit a Neurolink practitioner they will review your medical history and current complaint/s. Neurolink is very gentle and does not involve any adjusting, manipulating or stressing of your body. That is why patients of all ages can benefit.
As a patient you will lie on a medical treatment bed face up or face down, fully dressed.
The practitioner will hold different points on your body to activate different ‘circuits’. Some of these points will be obvious. Some may not be so obvious to you. To determine if the various circuits are intact or not, the practitioner will use a muscle test (ie holding an arm strong) as an indicator. The muscle test could be thought of as the practitioner’s way of ‘talking’ to the brain. If the circuit is broken, the muscle will lose strength, and the patient will be unable to resist against the practitioner’s pressure.
In most cases, to correct the problem, the practitioner will make contact with points on the body. The patient may also be asked to hold certain points him/herself. The practitioner will tap a certain place on the cranium – which is the integration message centre to the brain.
The practitioner will check through various circuits correcting as necessary for the individual, based on the information that is fed back from the brain.
Remember….with a Neurolink treatment, it is tailor-made for you. The practitioner can only correct circuits your brain says need correcting. And…..your brain doesn’t lie.
The time frame for a Neurolink treatment can vary, and depending on the length of your visit, can be spread out over sequential visits. Either way, your practitioner will only spend the time needed to take your body through all the sequential steps of the Neurolink system. (Please consult with him or her.)

Neurolink Research and Case Studies.
Follow the links below to learn about how Nuerolink has been able to help these cases.
Adolescent Acne
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Round celled sarcoma

Friday, September 10, 2004

Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in The US

(from an article by Dr John Mercola)
"Doctors are the third leading cause of death in the US, causing 250,000 deaths every year

This article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is the best article I have ever seen written in the published literature documenting the tragedy of the traditional medical paradigm.
This information is a followup of the Institute of Medicine report which hit the papers in December of last year, but the data was hard to reference as it was not in peer-reviewed journal. Now it is published in JAMA which is the most widely circulated medical periodical in the world.
The author is Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and she desribes how the US health care system may contribute to poor health.
12,000 -- unnecessary surgery 8
7,000 -- medication errors in hospitals 9
20,000 -- other errors in hospitals 10
80,000 -- infections in hospitals 10
106,000 -- non-error, negative effects of drugs 2
These total to 250,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes!!
What does the word iatrogenic mean? This term is defined as induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy. Used especially of a complication of treatment.
Dr. Starfield offers several warnings in interpreting these numbers:
First, most of the data are derived from studies in hospitalized patients.
Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not include negative effects that are associated with disability or discomfort.
Third, the estimates of death due to error are lower than those in the IOM report.1
If the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic causes would range from 230,000 to 284,000. In any case, 225,000 deaths per year constitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States, after deaths from heart disease and cancer. Even if these figures are overestimated, there is a wide margin between these numbers of deaths and the next leading cause of death (cerebrovascular disease).
Another analysis concluded that between 4% and 18% of consecutive patients experience negative effects in outpatient settings,with:
116 million extra physician visits
77 million extra prescriptions
17 million emergency department visits
8 million hospitalizations
3 million long-term admissions
199,000 additional deaths
$77 billion in extra costs
The high cost of the health care system is considered to be a deficit, but seems to be tolerated under the assumption that better health results from more expensive care.
However, evidence from a few studies indicates that as many as 20% to 30% of patients receive inappropriate care.
An estimated 44,000 to 98,000 among them die each year as a result of medical errors.2
This might be tolerated if it resulted in better health, but does it? Of 13 countries in a recent comparison,3,4 the United States ranks an average of 12th (second from the bottom) for 16 available health indicators. More specifically, the ranking of the US on several indicators was:
13th (last) for low-birth-weight percentages
13th for neonatal mortality and infant mortality overall 14
11th for postneonatal mortality
13th for years of potential life lost (excluding external causes)
11th for life expectancy at 1 year for females, 12th for males
10th for life expectancy at 15 years for females, 12th for males
10th for life expectancy at 40 years for females, 9th for males
7th for life expectancy at 65 years for females, 7th for males
3rd for life expectancy at 80 years for females, 3rd for males
10th for age-adjusted mortality
The poor performance of the US was recently confirmed by a World Health Organization study, which used different data and ranked the United States as 15th among 25 industrialized countries.
There is a perception that the American public "behaves badly" by smoking, drinking, and perpetrating violence." However the data does not support this assertion.
The proportion of females who smoke ranges from 14% in Japan to 41% in Denmark; in the United States, it is 24% (fifth best). For males, the range is from 26% in Sweden to 61% in Japan; it is 28% in the United States (third best).
The US ranks fifth best for alcoholic beverage consumption.
The US has relatively low consumption of animal fats (fifth lowest in men aged 55-64 years in 20 industrialized countries) and the third lowest mean cholesterol concentrations among men aged 50 to 70 years among 13 industrialized countries.
These estimates of death due to error are lower than those in a recent Institutes of Medicine report, and if the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic causes would range from 230,000 to 284,000.
Even at the lower estimate of 225,000 deaths per year, this constitutes the third leading cause of death in the US, following heart disease and cancer.
Lack of technology is certainly not a contributing factor to the US's low ranking.
Among 29 countries, the United States is second only to Japan in the availability of magnetic resonance imaging units and computed tomography scanners per million population. 17
Japan, however, ranks highest on health, whereas the US ranks among the lowest.
It is possible that the high use of technology in Japan is limited to diagnostic technology not matched by high rates of treatment, whereas in the US, high use of diagnostic technology may be linked to more treatment.
Supporting this possibility are data showing that the number of employees per bed (full-time equivalents) in the United States is highest among the countries ranked, whereas they are very low in Japan, far lower than can be accounted for by the common practice of having family members rather than hospital staff provide the amenities of hospital care.
Journal American Medical Association July 26, 2000;284(4):483-5
Folks, this is what they call a "Landmark Article". Only several ones like this are published every year. One of the major reasons it is so huge as that it is published in JAMA which is the largest and one of the most respected medical journals in the entire world.
I did find it most curious that the best wire service in the world, Reuter's, did not pick up this article. I have no idea why they let it slip by.
I would encourage you to bookmark this article and review it several times so you can use the statistics to counter the arguments of your friends and relatives who are so enthralled with the traditional medical paradigm. These statistics prove very clearly that the system is just not working. It is broken and is in desperate need of repair.
I was previously fond of saying that drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in this country. However, this article makes it quite clear that the more powerful number is that doctors are the third leading cause of death in this country killing nearly a quarter million people a year. The only more common causes are cancer and heart disease.
This statistic is likely to be seriously underestimated as much of the coding only describes the cause of organ failure and does not address iatrogenic causes at all.
Japan seems to have benefited from recognizing that technology is wonderful, but just because you diagnose something with it, one should not be committed to undergoing treatment in the traditional paradigm. Their health statistics reflect this aspect of their philosophy as much of their treatment is not treatment at all, but loving care rendered in the home.
Care, not treatment, is the answer. Drugs, surgery and hospitals are rarely the answer to chronic health problems. Facilitating the God-given healing capacity that all of us have is the key. Improving the diet, exercise, and lifestyle are basic.
Effective interventions for the underlying emotional and spiritual wounding behind most chronic illness are also important clues to maximizing health and reducing disease.
Related Articles:
Medical Mistakes Kill 100,000 per year
US Health Care System Most Expensive in the World
Drug Induced Disorders
Author/Article Information
Author Affiliation: Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md. Corresponding Author and Reprints: Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 624 N Broadway, Room 452, Baltimore, MD 21205-1996 (e-mail:
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3. Starfield B. Primary Care: Balancing Health Needs, Services, and Technology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1998.
4. World Health Report 2000. Available at: Accessed June 28, 2000.
5. Kunst A. Cross-national Comparisons of Socioeconomic Differences in Mortality. Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Erasmus University; 1997.
6. Law M, Wald N. Why heart disease mortality is low in France: the time lag explanation. BMJ. 1999;313:1471-1480.
7. Starfield B. Evaluating the State Children's Health Insurance Program: critical considerations.Annu Rev Public Health. 2000;21:569-585.
8. Leape L.Unecessarsary surgery. Annu Rev Public Health. 1992;13:363-383.9. Phillips D, Christenfeld N, Glynn L. Increase in US medication-error deaths between 1983 and 1993. Lancet. 1998;351:643-644.
10. Lazarou J, Pomeranz B, Corey P. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients. JAMA. 1998;279:1200-1205.
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