Who Determines Your Health?

Who is the single biggest determiner of your health?

I'll give you a hint: It's not your chiropractor.

*Gasp!* I know! Not what you were expecting, right? It is my privilege to be able to help people become healthier each and every day I'm in the office at Truly Balanced Chiropractic of Dubuque, but as much as I'm able to help, I know my limits.

Who is the biggest determiner of your health?

YOU are!

This probably doesn't come as a surprise if you think about it. You determine what you eat, how much you sleep, how much you exercise, how you handle your stress, which environments you choose to move through... all those daily choices have a bigger impact on your health than any doctor can.

I can't make all those little decisions for you, and you wouldn't want me to anyway! Who needs someone following them around, scolding and grousing with a disapproving scowl, 'Don't eat that!', and 'Is that dust on your treadmill?', and 'Isn't it past your bedtime!'.

That would be horrendous!

I am not that person. What I do, is I adjust my patients so that their nervous systems function better and they feel better. Then I give advice... advice about dietary changes that might be helpful, supplements that might improve a particular condition, ways to improves sleep quality, stretches that might ease pain and improve function along with adjustments... you get the idea.

Many of my patients choose to eventually go onto wellness care plans, coming in once every two weeks to two months, depending on their particular needs. Many find they are more relaxed, they sleep better, they have more energy, and they feel better overall.

But that is a choice.

I do not guilt patients. I do not badger. I never seek to take control of anyone's health but my own.

You are in control of your health.

You are the biggest determiner of your overall health.

But if you want someone on your team, helping you reach your health goals, advising, cheering you on, and advocating for you, then I would be proud to be part of your healthcare team.

My goal is to empower patients, to help them recognize how vital their lifestyle decisions are to their health.

You are in control.

Claim that power, and shape the life you want to live.

What Causes Low Back Pain?

When a patient comes into the office with a problem, first and foremost they want to get rid of that problem and feel better. (Obviously!)

The second thing many patients want, however, is to know why they had the problem in the first place, and what they can do to prevent it from happening again.

Sometimes, explaining the why of a problem, though, is not a simple matter.

Let's take low back pain as an example.

When you go into most chiropractic offices, they'll explain something to the effect that a vertebrae or part of the pelvis has become misaligned, and that this misalignment affects the nerves coming from the region, which causes pain. 

This is certainly part of the picture with many cases of low back pain, and this is why so many patients receive relief from chiropractic adjustments--when you correct the misalignment, you help normalize nerve function and decrease pain.

But there are multiple things which can affect the low back beyond simple issues of alignment.

Internal organs can refer pain to musculoskeletal locations like the low back.  Prostate issues, ovarian and uterine issues, kidney infection, bladder infection,  and inflammation of the large and/or small intestine can all cause low back pain.  In particular, I tend to see many patients with at least mild digestive tract inflammation affecting their low backs.  This inflammation can often be addressed fairly simply with dietary changes and probiotic supplementation which many patients have found to decrease the frequency of their episodes of low back discomfort.

The way in which a person moves often has a significant impact on the low back as well.  Lifting with the legs with a spine held in a neutral position protects the low back, while bending to lift with the muscles of the back puts unnecessary strain on the low back which can lead to injury.  In particular, twisting and lifting with low back can be extremely detrimental to low back health.

Levels of physical activity can also greatly affect the health of the low back.  The vertebral discs between vertebrae are not heavily vascular, so much of their nutrition comes from surrounding fluids which are pumped into the disc by motions like walking.  If a person is very sedentary, their vertebral discs do not receive as much nutrition from surrounding fluids and can become more compressed and more vulnerable.

So when a patient asks, 'what caused my low back pain?', I talk about all the factors I see as playing a role in their particular case. When they ask what they can do to care for their low back, I give them dietary advice to support their digestive health, I help them with ways they can move better to protect the low back, I recommend regular physical activity, and advise them to get their spine's alignment checked on a semi-regular basis, and more frequently if they are experiencing pain or discomfort.

In other words, eat right, lift with your legs, exercise, and get that spine adjusted to keep that low back feeling great!


Sports and Concussions

With so many sports, the possibility of getting a concussion is a real concern, especially in contact sports. This has recently been brought into the lime light in particular with football and the various lawsuits brought against the NFL for the long lasting effects of concussions which were not handled properly.

So, what is a concussion? How is it recognized? How should it be treated?

According to the CDC, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Basically, an individual is hit in the head, the skull and brain both accelerate, the skull comes to a stop first, and the brain which is suspended in fluid in your skull keeps accelerating and hits the skull, often bouncing back and hitting again on the opposite side of the skull (something referred to as a coup coutrecoup injury).

How do you recognize a concussion?

There are a number of typical symptoms which can be indicative of a concussion including blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, fatigue, headache, loss of consciousness, disorientation, memory problems, nausea, poor coordination, ringing of the ears, seeing stars, and more.

If a player takes a hit to the head and shows any of these symptoms after the hit, they should be pulled out of the game and evaluated by a medical profession after the game. More severe symptoms may indicate a need for immediate medical evaluation and care, particularly if the player is knocked unconscious for more than 30 seconds, has difficulty speaking after a hit to the head, seems confused, isn't moving well, or throws up, since these can be symptoms of even more serious brain injuries.

After a player has been diagnosed with a concussion... what then?

The evaluating doctor will advise on how long the player should stay out of the sports, but a player definitely shouldn't play as long as they are exhibiting symptoms, since the risk of long term neurological side effects from a concussion increases dramatically when a second concussion occurs before an initial concussion has healed fully.

Another thing to note is that a player who is advised to stay home and rest from work or school after a concussion should do just that—rest. Keep stimulation to a minimum. Don't read, do things on the computer, watch tv, don't even listen to music. Keep lights dim. Keep inputs muted. Students should not be doing homework or undertaking anything that might be mentally taxing, since this stresses an already injured and stressed brain. Adjults should not be working from home on mentally taxing problems for the same reason.

Getting a chiropractic adjustment can often help resolve post-concussion symptoms, since adjustments help take stress off the nervous system. In particular, the neck often requires adjustment since mild to moderate whip-lash can go hand in hand with concussions. Applied Kinesiology as a chiropractic technique is particularly suited to dealing with post-concussion symptoms, with additional tools not found in many techniques including cranial adjusting, injury recall, and specific sub-techniques which address neurological disorganization which can result from a traumatic brain injury like a concussion.   

AK Care and Limb Pain

Many people assume that chiropractors only work on neck, back, and low back pain.

This certainly isn't the case.

Shoulder pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, as well as hip, knee, foot, and ankle pain can often be addressed utilizing AK care.  


1. By adjusting the spine, balancing the nerves which control the activity of your limbs and sensations from your limbs.

2. By adjusting the bones of your limbs, which can themselves be misaligned.

3. By doing muscle work to balance how the limb moves.

4. By utilizing the full AK toolkit when the usual suspects for limb pain don't fit the bill (cranial adjusting, injury recall, meridian therapy, etc.).

If you know someone with pain in one or more of their limbs that just won't go away, tell them to consider trying chiropractic care.  If they've tried traditional chiropractic and it hasn't helped, further consider telling them to try AK care.  Sometimes a different (and perhaps more thorough) approach is what their particular pain requires.

Relax Like Pro

You know who knows how to really relax?  A kitty!  They can completely relax every muscle in their body and go to sleep at the drop of a hat.  We could all take a page from the lifestyle of the average house cat!

How do you do it?  By managing your stress.  

Here is the formula to relax and de-stress--if you're stressing, ask yourself if you can do something about it.  If you can't, stop worrying, it won't do you any good and will only do you harm!  If the answer is yes, you can do something about it, ask yourself if you can do something about it right now.  If the answer is no, then don't worry about it!  Wait until you can do something about it to worry!  If the answer is yes, do something about it, and then you have no reason to worry.

Now, this is easier said than done, but by consciously working on letting the things go that you can't change, you can start to change your mind and decrease your overall stress levels, which is good for your health both mentally and physically.

So start working on breaking the habit of stressing, and you too can relax more fully can completely!

My Chiropractic Story

When I was a child, I had chronic “tummy aches”. Our family physician didn't even have a suggestion for what might help me. My mom took me to a chiropractor, and after one adjustment, my “tummy aches” went away.

After going to Iowa State and earning my B.S. in biology and B.A. in philosophy, I had some choices on my hands upon graduation. I considered law school, going for further schooling to teach philosophy, medical school, or chiropractic school. I could have chosen any one of the above. I graduated summa cum laude, was employed as a philosophy essay test grader, and was active in several different organizations at Iowa State, most notably the Honors Student Counsel.

Yet for me, the choice was clear.

I wanted, above all, to help people. In my opinion, knowledge is only useful insofar as it can improve the lives of others. I wanted to be able to help people in a powerful but non-invasive fashion, and chiropractic could do that for me.

At Palmer, I excelled at classes quite as well as I did at Iowa State. I took a job as a cadaver dissector, a coveted position which allowed me to learn in even greater detail the way in which the human body is fashioned.

Then I took a 108 hour course offered outside of Palmer's curriculum called Applied Kinesiology.

It changed my life profoundly.

While I have always been good at school, I had problems with mild dyslexia which particuarly affected my mathematical abilities since I tended to scramble numbers. I also had abysmal navigational skills, and was under the impression that I was naturally clumsy since I didn't seem to be good at sports at all.

After getting cranial work, meridian balancing, and injury recall done while taking the A.K. Course, however, my view of myself changed. My coordination improved. I found I had better balance, moved with greater ease, and didn't tire as easily when I joined in with friends at sports. My sense of direction improved. I could now naturally remember routes and back track if need be, something that used to be extremely difficult for me. I didn't scramble numbers any more. My singing and dancing abilities improved. And overall, I had less tension, and I felt better. I didn't know there was anything wrong, until suddenly it was made right.

I finished the certification course, and went on to work as a teaching assistant for the course for three more rounds, polishing my knowledge of this incredibly complex but powerful technique.

This is why I practice using AK care—because while chiropractic had a definite effect on my life, AK care opened up areas of potential in me I didn't even know existed. Now I am working to do the same for all my patients. We all have more potential within us than we know. This is also why I opened Truly Balanced Chiropractic—so I could reduce the over all pain in the world around me and provide a very different kind of care than any other chiropractic office in Dubuque has to offer. I'm in this to make the world a better place, to improve lives the way my life has been improved, to help people recognize and realize the profound potential within them. I can't imagine doing anything else.