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Over the summer I noticed an interesting pattern.

After doing this for over 35 years and seeing over 15,000 different patients, you begin to notice a few things. For example, you learn a lot of high school athletes do a lot better if they receive chiropractic care for more than just pain relief. You notice a lot of pregnancies go smoother if the mother receives chiropractic care throughout pregnancy — thankfully, I’ve even had a few patients tell me that their OB/GYN suggested it! You notice that people who receive chiropractic care before surgery have better outcomes.

The new pattern I noticed this past summer was when about five middle-age and older patients all mentioned to me that they needed to have surgery for a rotator cuff issue. I always like to check things out when people are told they need surgery. More often than not they don’t actually need it, it’s just the go-to treatment option when a surgeon sees an injury. I can’t blame them, though; surgeons suggest surgery, physical therapists recommend physical therapy, medical doctors suggest medications, and chiropractors recommend chiropractic. As a chiropractic physician I do tend to favor chiropractic, but I have been known to recommend physical therapy and occasionally even surgery if other routes don’t work first.

A few advantages to trying chiropractic first? It is a lot less expensive than surgery, it’s not invasive like surgery, and it typically results in faster resolution of your issues. Plus, if chiropractic doesn’t resolve your illness or injury, you can always take the next step after. With surgery, however, you can’t go back and “un-surgery” things. Once the joint is cut open it is never as strong or stable as it was before surgery.

This brings me to my observation of the past few months: five men, all between their 50s and 70s, being told they needed rotator cuff surgery. They came to me with other issues but brought it up so I thought I would check things out. Of the five men, two had trigger points that reproduced the pain they were reporting — which meant they didn’t need surgery, just trigger point therapy and some home therapy along with chiropractic adjustments. One had a C5 nerve impingement that, when corrected, released the shoulder and improved range of motion by around 90%. One had a first rib issue that needed some attention. The last one had an injury that did actually require surgery. Now, I understand that you may see this as just my professional opinion, but after doing this for over 35 years, I have seen too many patients have surgery and report no improvement in their original complaint. I can’t even count how many people have had carpal tunnel surgery that never got better until they tried some combination of chiropractic and massage or physical therapy. All I want is for my patients with injuries to see results, and a vast majority of the time, chiropractic is what they need.

Along with chiropractic, many people’s bodies respond when the right supplements are added to the equation — and I’m talking high-quality ones, not just the cheapest thing you can find at Walmart or on Amazon. One of the latest highlights I have seen is how much faster people respond to chronic inflammation when we put them on PRMs, or pro-resolving mediators. These are basically fish oil, but even better. They don’t act as fast as over-the-counter pain killers, but then again, they don’t result in upwards of 50,000 emergency room visits or hundreds of deaths per year like acetaminophens do.1 And these PRMs result in higher levels of health.

Before you submit to surgery, get a second opinion — and I don’t mean another surgeon. Ask an experienced doctor of chiropractic, someone who has been around a while. If you really need surgery, they will confirm what the surgeon said. And if you don’t, they will save you a lot of time, money, and pain.

Dr. Burtis, D.C., M.S., 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.

1. National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441917/

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