pdf of this article


For more information about chiropractic treatment, contact:


M. Todd Staker, DC
Ben Schemmel, DC
Trevor Williams, DC

3550 NW Cary Parkway, #104
Cary, NC 27513
Telephone: (919) 460-1515

Pain and the Choices We Make

Occasionally Dr. Todd Staker, of Staker Chiropractic Center in Cary, likes to remind his patients that Hippocrates—often called the father of modern medicine—wrote extensively about the relationship of the health of the spine to many disease states.

Dr. Schemmel (left) and Dr. Williams reviewing food sensitivity panel results for a patient.

In this regard, notes Dr. Staker, “among the most famous quotes attributed to Hippocrates is: ‘Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.’

“As chiropractors,” he says, “my colleagues—Dr. Ben Schemmel and Dr. Trevor Williams—and I have intense interest in the health of the spine, and the general health of our patients. As Hippocrates knew several thousand years ago, there’s a strong link between spinal health and general health.

“Many of our patients live exemplary lifestyles. They exercise, eat well, avoid tobacco use, and limit use of alcohol. Still they come to us with their aches and pains, often resulting from over-extending themselves in weekend games or too many hours bent over in the garden. In other words, they hurt, they want relief, and they know that pain relief is first and foremost what we do.

“Some of these patients are tri-athletes, and a few others are professional athletes. The more they use and understand their bodies, the more they rely on chiropractic care to both prevent injuries and help the healing process when needed. Unfortunately, patients with these habits are a small minority.

“Other patients come to us—also in pain—who are overweight smokers who may also have substance abuse issues. And what we see with consistency is that it typically takes these patients twice as long to heal from injury as it does those patients who are living healthy lifestyles.”

Smoking and Obesity

Notes Dr. Schemmel, “The relationship of smoking and obesity to health of the spine is evident and direct. Simply put, smoking reduces blood flow to the muscles and ligaments of the spine and makes them weaker. Obesity is an even greater burden, causing direct stress on the spine.

“My primary objective as a chiropractor is to remove nerve interference by correcting subluxations of the spine in a safe, effective, and completely natural way. Subluxation is a word we use to describe a slight dislocation or misalignment or biomechanical malfunctioning of the vertebrae of the spine.
“Misaligned vertebrae may irritate nerve roots and blood vessels that branch off from the spinal cord between each of the vertebrae—often causing pain and dysfunction in muscle, lymphatic, and organ tissue as well as imbalance in the normal body processes.

“Subluxations happen for many reasons,” he explains: “a fall, injury, sudden jarring, trauma, poor posture, obesity, lack of exercise, stress, and other factors. Obesity should perhaps be number one on that list. Every single body function is controlled by electrical and chemical messages that travel back and forth from the brain to all parts of the body. If the 24 moving bones of the spine are not in alignment, then interference occurs with this intricate communication system—and that can lead to health problems. Correcting nerve interference is not a cure for illness, but it is critical to permit the body to heal and repair injury in a natural way.”

Obesity: A Special Challenge

Dr. Williams observes that “Obesity is a special challenge to chiropractor and patient alike. When a patient with hip or back pain comes to me who is 100 pounds overweight, I know I can adjust them every day of the week and they will feel better—but only for a few hours. Obesity places an enormous stress on the spine.

“To illustrate the point,” he says, “I invite anyone to take a 12-pound bowling ball and strap it around their waist with a belt, and walk with it in place for seven days. I guarantee you, 100 percent of these patients will have back pain at week’s end, because they have spent this time in an unnatural posture, compensating for that extra weight. And 12 pounds is not a lot of weight. Imagine the tremendous strain on all the joints of the body that is carrying an extra 100 pounds!”

Obesity and Arthritis

Dr. Williams notes that research in recent years is placing increasing emphasis on the link between obesity and arthritis. “With obesity,” he explains, “muscles and ligaments pull on the joints and there is uneven distribution of weight. Muscles are stretched, twisted, and turned, and there’s a tremendous amount of strain on the joints that eventually causes them to wear out. The result is back pain, hip pain, ankle pain.

“The most successful approach we have with these patients is to first help relieve their pain, and then guide them into making healthier choices in terms of nutrition and exercise. All of our chiropractic pain relief work will only be of short-term benefit unless these patients are willing to make this type of effort, over an extended period of time.”

Adds Dr. Staker, “Pain relief is still the major and immediate concern for many of our patients, and as we relieve their pain, we encourage everyone to consider integrating appropriate exercise and good food habits. To guide our patients in this effort, we now offer a food panel that assesses food sensitivities, to help identify foods that may be creating or contributing to underlying, low-level inflammation.”

Notes Dr. Williams, “Just this morning I saw a patient who had a food panel done because he was feeling lethargic and generally fatigued, along with some constant joint pain. Results from the testing revealed that he had a really high sensitivity to almost the entire category of dairy, milk, and cheeses. With this information, he is making important changes to his diet and his overall health.

“We all have inflammation in our body, and if we are eating the wrong foods for our system, that inflammation becomes more pervasive and intense. I’m reminded of another well-known quote, this one by Thomas Edison: ‘The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.’”

Adds Dr. Schemmel, “Then it is appropriate to add a final quote from Hippocrates: ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ The wisdom of the ages is especially relevant today.”