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Hope for those in chronic pain


Do you experience any of the following which relates to chronic pain?

Chronic Back Pain, Headaches, Neck Pain, Mid Back Pain, Muscle Pain-Pain that never stops or keeps coming back (chronic pain).

-Restriction of certain activities in your life like sleeping on one side, doing a sport, sitting for long periods of time, etc. because it flares up your pain.

-An old injury that continues to show up.

-A pain or dysfunction that you think will never go away.

-Suffering body parts that you tend to dismiss because you have been told,“It’s just arthritis.”

-Pain that is caused by work.

Your chronic pain persists for reasons that are addressed in our office with the Pettibon System. In all likelihood, your pain comes from one or a combination of three tissues (detailed below) or systems of the body.  Your care will be tailored to help relieve persistent problems by addressing these areas:

1. Connective Tissue Remodeling

     a. Ligaments

     b. Spinal Discs

     c. Adhesions or Scar Tissue

2. Muscles Worked Posturally

3. Nervous System Reprogramming


1. Remodeling your connective tissue for maximum pain relief

 When we say the connective we often say the “white tissue” due to its poor blood supply.  Here is an explanation of how three types of connective tissue, ligaments, spinal discs and scar tissue, play a role in chronic pain.

a. Ligaments make bone to bone connections in your body.  With trauma ligaments can become over stretched and remain hidden causes of pain and dysfunction until revealed through correct x-ray evaluation.  With the Pettibon System you will have x-rays taken of with your head flexed forward and extended back.  When ligamentous instability is noted very specific exercises will be employed to get the muscular system to take over the job of the ligaments. This gives the ligaments time to contract back to their proper length.  The ligament healing can take 18 months but with proper muscular strengthening the spine, in most cases, stabilizes.

Ligament Damage in the Cervical Spine

Notice the "stair stepping" between the two vertebrae. This is due to ligament damage.Think of a damaged ligament as this spring which is unsprung in the center.

 Chiropractic Help When There is Ligament Damage











b. Spinal discs help determine the shape of the spine.  The bloodsupply to the discs after the age of 12 is minute and insufficient

Disc Degeneration and Pettibon Chiropractic

The upper discs are white and hydrated but the lower two are black and have lost height.

nourish the disc to keep it from degenerating.  The disc must have motion in order to drink in nutrition containing fluid and eliminate waste material.  When we lose our proper spinal curves gravity weighs on the discs causing disc compression and degeneration.  This is why people tend to get shorter with age. IMAGE 72 X-ray with disc degeneration

 If the discs degenerate the nerves are compressed and this can cause chronic pain. 

 The Pettibon System uses very specific exercises, adjustments and nutritional therapies to nurture the discs and get them to drink in hydration and regenerate. This may result in an increase in disc height on your post x-ray enabling you to feel the effects of less nerve compression.   

Even bulging or herniated discs can be helped through the Pettibon System.  When the disc is hydrated it tightens the outer (annular) fibers and thus holds the nucleus in the disc.  If the disc isn’t protruding and hitting the nerve then the pain will go.  (2008 Research Study at bottom of Spinal Regeneration section)

 If you’ve written your spine off as unrecoverable due to disc degeneration or herniated discs then think again.   

c. Adhesions or Scar Tissue are current buzz words in manual therapy modalities but what is the role in chronic pain? Scar Tissue is the fibrous connective tissue which forms a scar; it can be found on any tissue in the body.  It can result from any incidence of inflammation in the body.  This can be severe like a cut or bruise or subtle and cumulative like typing on a computer which may result in chronic muscle tightness and micro-inflammation of tissue.

 Thicker than the surrounding tissue, scar tissue is paler and denser

because it has a limited blood supply. Although it takes the place of damaged or destroyed muscles, ligaments, skin, etc., it is limited in movement, circulation, and sensation. Scar tissue can be like a hardened cob web in the tissues causing aberrant motion and signals of pain to be sent to the brain.

The original injury may be long gone but the scar tissue may still be wreaking havoc on the body causing pain and dysfunction to remain.

GOOD NEWS- When under care, you will have your scar tissue softened and decrease it’s influence on your spine and nervous system.

 When under care in this office you will go through very specific ways to decrease the effects of scar tissue.  From the adjusting techniques to muscle work and home care, scar tissue will be softened and normal more organized tissue will be able to do its job.

2. Getting your muscles to work for you

Muscles must be properly rehabilitated for permanenst posture correction.When the primary mover (dominant muscle) plays too much or too little of a role in joint movement an imbalance is present. With posture it usually relates to postural muscles.  The result can be pain patterns within muscles, groups of muscles or joints that track improperly.  This sets the stage for friction, inflammation and chronic pain.


Forward Head Posture Leading to Problems Throughout the Body

Muscle imbalance can happen from trauma to the joint, muscles themselves or to the spinal cord/nerves.  Less obvious is the subtle use of a group of muscles over another when in a position over a prolonged period of time.  Examples might be sitting in front of a computer, standing at a job all day, driving in a hunched posture or even exercising with improper form.  IMAGE 67 Person hunched over a computer 


Postural muscles are under the control of what is called the autonomic (automatic) nervous system. This part of your nervous system also controls organs like the heart, lungs and adrenal glands.  Like theses organs, you should not have to consciously think about what position you are in.  If you have had failed attempts at muscle rehabilitation in the past then it is likely that you were working phasic (conscious) muscles and not tapping into the unconscious postural muscular system. IMAGE 68   Autonomic Nervous System

With the Pettibon System you will be participating in muscle strengthening that leads to a stronger more stable you. This structure will be sound whether or not you are thinking of keeping your posture in line. 

3. Reprogramming Your Nervous System

One can strengthen muscles, regenerate discs and remodel scar tissue but if the nervous system is not programmed to hold the body in its new position then breaking free from the grip of chronic problems will not be achieved.  The nervous system must be reprogrammed.

Pain patterns are usually neurological in nature and your body will be flooded with proper neurological input in order to retrain your body to its more optimal self.  This takes exacting repetition.  Creating a neurological pattern can take time.  In 2002 Barry Zito played for the OaklandA’s and reached a pinnacle for major league pitchers by receiving the Cy Young Award.  His neurology knew how to wind up and throw the ball the way his brain desired.  Well, in 2007 he started with the San Francisco Giants and decided to change his wind up.  The change was disastrous.  What happened?  One neurological programming was being switched for another and it takes an incredible amount of repetition to get out of one pattern and successfully pitch in the new one.

If you are in chronic pain your body is accustomed to this dysfunctional neurological pattern of movement, muscle firing and pain signals being sent to the brain.  With Pettibon, we will identify the correct pattern and accelerate the neurological re-education with very specific modalities such as the Pettibon Weighting System, whole body vibration, dominant eye occlusion therapy, neuro-nutritive supplementations and many others.  Thus, a barrage of new healthy signals will take over destructive neurological patterns. 

With the exception of a severe re-injury you will be able to keep your neurology from getting in these pain patterns for the rest of your life and do most of the work at home.  This puts more power in your hands and eliminates a lifetime dependence on chiropractic care.

 There is hope for you who are in chronic pain.

Call (408) 274-2244