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Chiropractors are often thought of as back and neck doctors. While that does tend to be a specialty of ours and something we’re better at treating than most other avenues—the American College of Physicians even recommends using natural routes like chiropractic for back pain before using OTC medications or prescriptions—there’s so much more that chiropractic can be used for.

So how does chiropractic work? Chiropractic adjustments stimulate the nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for the majority of your body’s systems and functioning. When something is “off” in your body, it often stems from improper functioning of the nervous system. That’s where chiropractic comes into play—an adjustment stimulates the nervous system, which helps correct those systems and get things running smoothly again.

For example, did you know that sciatica is a symptom of improperly functioning nerves in your low back? Or that your thoracic and lumbar nerves are responsible for controlling the function of your heart, lungs, and kidneys? Or that the phrenic nerve, which goes from the third through fifth vertebrae in the neck, controls the diaphragm (this one will come in later—hang on for an example)?

To illustrate the incredible cases chiropractic can help solve, I’ll share a few real-life stories from my 35+ years in practice in Fairmont. One of my first really interesting cases came back in 1990 when a young woman who was pregnant was complaining of severe low back pain. The peculiar symptom she had was that her legs would not stop shaking. She had seen her medical doctor and was told it was just the pregnancy and that she should go home and put heat on it. She followed the doctor’s instructions, but it did not work. She then came to me, and I knew—despite being in practice only a couple of years at that time—that her case was more severe than that. I urged her to talk to her M.D. again, but he still thought it was nothing. I called a different M.D. for her and he said, “If you really think it is something else, then send her to E.R. and tell them I said to take a look at her.” (Thank you, Dr. Bart Erickson, for trusting me back in 1990!) Long story short, the young woman was sent to Rochester where doctors found what is called an AV malformation in her spinal cord. As her baby got bigger, the malformation got bigger and she began to have problems. By the time she got to Rochester she could no longer walk. Doctors had to take the baby early, but the baby lived and so did the mother, and she was able to have another!

Recently I had an interesting case that was not so severe, but still a miracle to the gentleman who had it. He called in to our office wanting to know if chiropractic could “cure” hiccups. He’d had a weeks-long, unrelenting case of hiccups. He could not eat or sleep and it was getting serious. I told him we had helped with several cases of seemingly incurable hiccups and to come in. We performed a scan and found severe nerve interference in his neck in the phrenic nerve—the one I mentioned earlier. After one adjustment he saw a major difference. He came back a few more times after his hiccups finally subsided to assure this would not happen again.

During another case, I was able to help a farmer who was suffering from so many cramps that he had an extremely hard time raising his hogs and farming. His wife had such a good response to chiropractic during her pregnancy that she brought him in. In his initial consultation he shared an interesting piece of information: he found that if he put mustard on his tongue, the cramps would stop. I knew enough about mustard and muscle physiology to put two and two together. Mustard is high in acetic acid (almost 5% by weight), and acetic acid is part of what forms a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. When the body levels of acetylcholine are low, you will get muscle cramps. I had him start taking a supplement that raised acetylcholine and his cramps went away!

One case related to back pain was with a trucker who came to my office. He had been to a couple of doctors for his low back pain, and they told him to ice it and go to physical therapy. He also shared that had not had a recent bowel movement. When I asked him what he meant by “recent,” he replied, “Like seven days.” Doctors had advised laxatives, but he said that didn’t work. I immediately suspected what was wrong. I told him to go straight to the E.R. and tell them he had cauda equina syndrome. This is when a disc breaks up and a piece wedges against the lowest nerves in your spinal cord causing loss of sensation required for bowel movements.   He did as told, and they said I was right! He insists I saved his life. At the very least, it saved him from probable paralysis.

Finally, there is the case of a child who had been born with normal hearing but went deaf shortly after receiving a vaccination around the age of two. He could hear just a little; he would sit inches from the TV with the volume at full blast and barely respond. His mother had heard from me how the first chiropractic patient had been cured of deafness by chiropractic adjustments. I said we should absolutely give chiropractic a try for him. At this point he could barely talk because he had never heard normal human speech. After six weeks of chiropractic care his mom came in crying. I was worried she was coming to tell me that she was giving up. Instead, she said to me and said, “I am crying because before today my son has never said anything we could understand. Today he said ‘I love you mommy’.” That was an amazing feeling.

Over the years I have helped people with hearing and vision problems, bedwetting and colicky babies, infertility, you name it. More recently we have helped a lot of covid long-haulers return to normal. Over the past ten years we have added more and more nutrition and functional medicine consulting as poor lifestyle choices have added to the health problems people come in with. But the success and miracles of my past 35 years of practice make me excited for what else is to come!

These days fewer and fewer people are disbelievers of chiropractic. Over 100 years of science and research have proven the principle beyond a doubt. There are many people who believe that chiropractors can only help back and neck pain. To them I say, “Remember me if you ever have hiccups that won’t go away!”


Dr. Burtis, MS, DC, CFMP, has been providing natural healthcare to the Fairmont area at Burtis Chiropractic Center for over 30 years. He uses a combination of chiropractic, nutrition, and functional medicine to help individuals restore and maintain health and healing through individualized care plans. The mission of Burtis Chiropractic Center is to provide transformational healthcare that takes an individual’s life to the next level. We strive to be a solution for families to experience transformational healthcare and help create vibrant and resilient lifestyles that can be passed to future generations.

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