Decompression, Deception and the Magic Machine


It is important to recognize that as we approach nearly twenty years since the initial entrance into the Chiropractic market of Decompression systems, we are still faced with the marketing of magic decompression machines, being somehow different than traction devices based upon mechanisms and pull patterns. For many people, logic, reason and basic physics, though compelling, can’t really compete with marketing hyperbole and the longed for wish of magic stuff.  It is funny how at least 45% of PTs use TRACTION machines (NOT decompression systems)(Hartte et al 2005) for disc and nerve encroachment syndromes and NONE to my knowledge has EVER encountered proprioceptive “lockdown”.  Let’s not forget the thousands of chiropractors who utilize inexpensive traction/decompression who are somehow managing to get the same if not better results as well.

Continue reading “Decompression, Deception and the Magic Machine”

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Traction!


After spending the better part of the last 6 years developing a seminar for Continuing Education Credits and speaking to over 2000 Chiropractors, Neuro & Orthopedic Surgeons, Osteopaths, and Physical Therapists on “Axial Decompression and Core Rehab for the Lumbar Disc Patient”, I am still amazed and intrigued by the one question that mainly chiropractors ask me.  I am asked this one question at every seminar I teach. What is this magical question that haunts me you ask?

Continue reading “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Traction!”

Protective Postures (Part 1)

Lot’s of doctors don’t incorporate postural rehab (or any other type of rehab for that matter)  into their care programs.  Possibly because postural chiropractic methods have been associated almost entirely with a particular technique in the past, many doctors view the concepts as somehow contradictory to what they do in their offices.  Strangely, many doctors  resistant to embracing postural rehab concepts, are already familiar with the many ways in which postural imbalance impacts patients, but for some reason just never made the connection as to why structural rehab is really necessary.  I thought I would take a stab at reviewing how some of the science is relevant to the importance of postural rehab in your practice.

Continue reading “Protective Postures (Part 1)”

Postural Alignment & Health Disorders: A Scientific Connection?


Posture has probably been one of the longest studied aspects of humans. The correlation of posture and health has driven us to study our posture since at least the time of Hippocrates.1 Since Hippocrates’ time, many have attempted to categorize man into constitutional posture types.1-3  Before any possible consequences of abnormal posture can be addressed, normal posture must be defined and precise measurement methods developed.

Continue reading “Postural Alignment & Health Disorders: A Scientific Connection?”

What do you have to see before you know what to do? The Significance of Pottenger’s Saucer


Structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) cannot be separated. A deviation from normal in one has consequences in the other. Beginning with my February 2010 column, I have been describing a five-minute Source of Stress examination that can be done in your office any time you need to determine when a visceral dysfunction may be responsible for perpetuating structural misalignments and subluxations. Neither expensive equipment nor changes in your office procedure are required. Regardless of how busy you may be, there are always times when a patient is not responding as they or you would like. It simply makes sense to run a “special” exam to reassure the patient and yourself that you are on the right track.

Continue reading “What do you have to see before you know what to do? The Significance of Pottenger’s Saucer”

Interview with Dr. George Gonzalez

Gonzalez-familyThe story of how Dr. George Gonzalez developed the technique he calls Quantum Neurology® Rehabilitation will serve as inspiration and example of what a man can do when motivated by passion and the need to help a loved one.

In his quest to help his wife who had sustained an extremely painful and crippling spinal cord injury, Dr. George Gonzalez was inspired to develop his amazingly effective neurological rehabilitation technique.

BK: Dr. Gonzalez, please tell our readers about your wife’s injury because that is where your story begins.


GG: Prior to her first treatment by a massage therapist, my wife warned her that she had a spondylolisthesis and that no work should be done on her low back. Unfortunately the therapist ignored the warning. The result was the spinal cord injury known as a cauda equina syndrome. Continue reading “Interview with Dr. George Gonzalez”

Spinal Technicians: Necessary Component for Chiropractic Management

The discussion of Chiropractic success and its varied components has been a major topic of discussion since I can remember. My first exposure was in 1972 when I was sent to Parker Seminars as conducted by Jimmy Parker, D.C. in Las Vegas. The first one I attended was at the old MGM Grand and Elvis was the headliner. The hairdos and dress might be a bit different now, but the prevailing concerns were the same then as they are now, contrary to popular belief of most chiropractors. listen to the modern day D.C., the biggest issue they face is non payment of insurance claims, threat of fraudulent practice procedures, lawsuits by litigious patients and increasing overhead. When I listen, I hear that the concerns of the patient lie behind the fears of the Doctor. This is the sad case of affairs for our current profession.

As a person who looks at positive solutions to overbearing problems, the solution seems plausible and simple: Focus on simple patient care with a systematic approach with an affordable price. It always astounds me to visit with a D.C. who insists on being all things to all people and then expects his/her practice to thrive. That is like saying, I bought this car and now I have to learn to do all of the maintenance and repairs from engine to interior; Ludicrous.

 There are still patients who need help. They come to the office for solutions that make sense and a plan that is workable. This requires a leader and a team. Sounds simple in theory but, in fact, if the D.C. is taking the films, adjusting, setting the patient up on a traction table, PTLMS preparation, Reports of Findings, Home Care Instruction AND finances, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that practice is no longer FUN. This is why we have so many vitamin salesmen that were former chiropractors. Practice and wellness should be fun and enjoyable.

 Some years ago, we put together Team Training. It was to be the vehicle which drove the success of the Pettibon practice. When I set up the criteria it was to insure that everyone in the practice who participated in patient care of ANY kind had to attend. I took a lot of criticism for this attitude but, for the sake of clarity, it is worthy of review. Consider the logic of who should attend:

1. Front Desk: The most important first and last impression of YOUR clinic had better be capable of saying something more intelligent than, “Have a nice day.” This person needs to reinforce everything that happens in the back rooms of the office, from spinal molding to head weighting to keeping appointments on time.

2. Insurance Desk: We ask a person to bill for us and collect for us and, other than numbers on a paper, we assume that they do not need to know what they are pursuing other than payment of codes. When a person just does a job, turnover increases because, when it comes down to it, those who remain on the job do so because they love what they do and the people they do it for. Simple enough.

3. X-ray Technician: The redundant act of taking X-rays grows pretty stale when one has no idea why they take them and what they mean. When the X-ray technician understands the spinal model and how to mark the lines on the film, all of a sudden it is an exciting position to enjoy each and every day.

4. Spinal Technician (S.T.)/Chiropractic Technician: In the years gone by, this was a glorified name given to a minimum wage employee who knew how to turn on a plugged in apparatus that squeezed muscles or provided some relief or worked the patient in some way for which the clinic received money. It had little to do with knowledge or practice building and everything to do with the patient feeling like they received a little something more.

The public has changed, times have changed. The general public is used to dental technicians, physician assistants and those who are doing the pre- and post- work alongside of their employer. The thinking person understands the need to have helpers in a clinical setting. Those helpers are readily accepted when they appear to be a trained arm of the professional in charge. The S.T. is meant to be just that. They should be the true helpmate of the Doctor providing assistance in all areas of the practice, from taking and processing X-rays to exercise instruction to preparing the patient for their adjustment/mobilization. That type of individual is NOT a rare find; they can be hired and trained with the proper procedures in place. This is the WHY of Team Training.



Sharon Freese-Pettibon, President of The Pettibon System, Inc, been in the chiropractic trenches for 39 years. She ran a successful staff training and practice development consulting company for Pettibon practitioners and has set up 12 chiropractic clinics. Her passion is seeing people succeed. Sharon can be reached at 1-888-774-6258 or [email protected]

Case History: Gall Bladder Attack Responds Instantly To Chiropractic Care! was a 62 year old chiropractor’s wife who presented in my office with classic signs of acute cholecystitis- a gall bladder attack, along with the presence of gallstones. She had severe right-sided abdominal pain, radiating into her right shoulder, as well as excessive belching, nausea and bloating. She had been up most of the night. Examination revealed exquisite abdominal tenderness under her right rib cage and a positive Murphy’s Sign. She had a history of previous gall bladder attacks, which led her to have an ultrasound confirming the presence of gallstones. She was accompanied by her husband.

Soft tissue technique often stops gall bladder pain in minutes!

While contacting the painful region over the gall bladder, I directed a very specific type of pressure to a group of nerve roots along the dorsal spine. 6,7 In a short time, the previously tender region on the abdomen was no longer painful! I held the specific reflex for 40 seconds. Soon, the patient was almost completely asymptomatic. I told the patient to avoid the most common foods that may trigger a gall bladder attack: eggs, pork, onions, chocolate, citrus, and milk.

On the next visit she reported no further symptoms. In the next few months I was in contact with the patient, she had no further attacks, though she did notice that ingesting certain foods tended to give her digestive discomfort.

The soft tissue technique works by providing a unique type of pressure to spinal nerves innervating the digestive tract, blocking pain impulses and normalizing function. 6,7 I’ve successfully treated many cases of acute and also chronic gall bladder pain, almost always with instant success. By itself it may be enough, especially with post surgical pain (e.g. pain that continues after the gall bladder is removed). However, recurrence of gall bladder pain is most often due to ingestion of foods the patient is allergic to. 1,2,12

Many gall bladder attacks are triggered by food allergies

James Howenstine, M.D., 5 and Jonathan Wright, M.D.,12 estimate that many gall bladder surgeries are unnecessary. Attacks can be reduced or eliminated by avoiding foods that the patient is allergic.

James Breneman, M.D.,1,2,12 was chairman of the Food Allergy Committee of what is now the American College of Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Breneman reported that 100% of a group of 69 patients had full relief of gallbladder pain when they avoided foods they were allergic to. They had painful attacks when they reintroduced the offending foods. The most common foods were eggs, pork, onions, chicken, milk, coffee, oranges, and beans.

500,000 gall bladders are removed each year, yet gallstones often cause no symptoms! 

Many chiropractors or their spouses have had their gall bladders removed, along with 500,000 other Americans each year. The most common reason for surgery is the presence of stones, and the assumption that the stones are causing recurring attacks of pain. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 80% of patients with gallstones have no symptoms of pain (silent gallstones)! The risk of silent gallstones actually causing a gallbladder attack is only about 1% per year. 9

Much chronic pain attributed to gallstones is actually due to intestinal pain, not gallstones. A number of studies have shown that patients with irritable bowel syndrome have a threefold higher risk of gallbladder surgery than the general population. 4,10 Gallbladder problems are twice as common in women as men, frequently occur during or after pregnancy, and occur more often in the overweight. Exercise helps prevent the occurrence of gallbladder problems.

Gallstones themselves are not eliminated by allergen avoidance, but many studies have shown that many gallstones cause no pain. Therefore, my strategy for many years is to stop the acute pain using our soft tissue procedure and give the patient dietary instruction to prevent recurrence. I have done this on many patients and many of them have had resolution of their gall bladder dysfunction, without surgery.6,7

Gallbladder pain without the gall bladder!

I’ve also treated many doctors at seminars with either acute gallbladder pain, or post cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS). In PCS, the pain continues even after the gallbladder is removed. 8,11 Studies estimate this occurs in 5-30% of patients who have surgery. This makes it quite common; almost 100,000 patients a year who continue to have gallbladder pain even though their gallbladder has been removed! In most of the cases we’ve treated so far, the pain has been dramatically relieved after performing the above mentioned soft tissue techniques.

This article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Any patient with gall bladder or digestive problems should seek treatment from a physician.


Stephen Kaufman, D.C., practices in Denver, CO. His techniques, Pain Neutralization Technique and Manual Spinal Nerve Blocks, represent a rapid new, lasting approach to pain. For further information, visit, or call Dr. Kaufman at 1-800-774-5078 or 1-303-756-9567.


See references on page 72 or visit

What Is A Totally Balanced Spine? What Every Chiropractor and Chiropractic Researcher Should Know

To start with, an imbalanced spine is because an atlas subluxation is affecting the brain stem. This affects the muscle balancing mechanism in the central reticular formation.

As a result, it produces spastic muscles on one side of the body, more than the other side, and produces a distorted pelvis and a contracted ilium. It also shortens one leg when compared to the other leg when the patient is in a supine position.

The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) chiropractic technique predicts that, with an achievement of an 80% or better reduction of an atlas subluxation, the patient will immediately have a balanced and stronger spine. The following information came from a patented invention that uses laser lights to measure the distortions of the spine in three dimensions. Where did all this start? It started with a suggestion from a lay person, Mrs. Mary Ann Dickholtz, about 7 years ago. She has been married to me for 56 years and has also raised two certified NUCCA chiropractors, Dr. Sherry Dickholtz Gaber and Dr. Marshall Dickholtz Jr. Mary Ann suggested that I use laser lights to examine a patient’s spine. This started the development of this very accurate patented posture-constant invention. The patient stands on a platform that is perfectly level and parallel to a wall chart. The patient’s heels are in the slots on a platform that is directly below their acetabulum. This is the patient’s base of support and all spinal measurements are taken from this position.

There are two separate units that will be called harnesses. Laser lights are mounted on each side of these harnasses. One harness sits on the shoulders and the other, coming from behind the patient, is slightly compressed over the superior crest of the ilii. One laser light on the right side of each harness shows a dot and the other side has a laser light that shows a line that represents a possible horizontal line. These lights are displayed on a chart with horizontal and vertical lines. They are spaced about two inches apart in two directions, one vertical and one horizontal. The chart is 6.5 feet in front of the patient. As dots from the laser lights shine on the chart, they would indicate if there is a torque in the transverse plane in the shoulder or pelvic girdle. They would also show a correlation of the relationship of the two separate dots that are projected from each of these units. The horizontal line would represent any tilt on the shoulder or pelvic tilt in the frontal plane. There is also a laser light with a vertical line that is mounted on a wall to the side of the patient. It is for evaluating the sagittal plane of the patient.

After using this new posture-constant for seven years and the research that proves the value of a NUCCA correction, I can now give you this information. In a non subluxated patient, the pelvic girdle should be directly over their feet. It has to be level within one half of a degree (less than one eigth of an inch) as to the tilt of the pelvic girdle in the frontal plane. It is measured with the laser harness placed on the patient’s ilii or the calipers of a posture constant that are placed on the ilii. Any torque in the pelvic girdle can be measured when the pelvis is over the patient’s feet. The dots from the lights will give both the translation and torque of each girdle. Translation refers to the patient’s body moving right or left of their base of support. If you are using a posture-constant, like the anatometor, it can measure translation of both girdles. Without a posture-constant, translation can be measured when there is another laser light that is mounted on a wall behind the patient. A projected vertical line from this laser that bisects the slots, where the patient’s heels would be placed would show any translation of the sacrum or the shoulder girdle, right or left of their base of support. If there is no translation, any torque from either girdle can be measured accurately. There shouldn’t be more then a two degree torque in the pelvic girdle in relationship to their feet. The shoulder girdle is not weightbearing. It doesn’t settle down as readily as the pelvic girdle.

In a non subluxated patient, the shoulder girdle could be level or within a tilt of only one or two degrees. In 99% of the cases, the shoulder torque should be less than four degrees in relationship to their pelvic girdle torque. There are numbers on the chart where these calculations can be retrieved.

This is measuring the torque over seventeen vertebrae. It equates to only one quarter of an inch. It is also one of the most revealing facts that the laser lights demonstrate. Chiropractors have never realized its importance. The torque can be the first or the last indication that there is an atlas subluxation or an incomplete correction. The shoulder girdle or pelvic girdle torque is magnified about 40 times with these laser lights. So, the very smallest torque is now evident. Once again, this is a very important finding.There shouldn’t be any torque between these two girdles of four degrees or more if the patient’s spine is totally balanced.

The last part of the examination is the sagittal plane. A laser light unit, mounted on a wall lateral to the patient, shows a vertical line that is aligned to the patient’s ankle. It can detect the alignments of the acetabulum, glenoid fossa and ears, as they relate to the ankle. I have seen some fast changes in these measurements after a subluxation is removed. In older patients, the ear to shoulder relationship alignments can change very slowly. This is the background for what has to be the answer to detecting a perfectly balanced spine. Every chiropractic researcher has to have this knowledge that is correlated to a stressor at the brain stem level. How can any outcome studies, be fully successful when investigated from a subluxated spine? This stressor has been proven to affect both the central and autonomic nervous systems.1,2


Marshall Dickholtz, Sr., D.C.

Decompression as a Chiropractic Technique

We decided to develop a chiropractic decompression technique, the Kennedy Decompression Technique, to help establish a codified clearinghouse of information and resources available, but often untapped, regarding traction therapy and how it may create “Decompression” as an outcome. This in an effort to offer a viable counter to advertising claims, scientific doublespeak and negligent billing information.


The notion of a “magic decompression machine” or mechanism, though unsupported by numerous research trials (Spine Jun. ’89, Nov. ’07 Spine Vol. 11 & Eur. Spine Jan. ’09 to mention a few using “typical” low cost traction equipment) has nonetheless managed to gain a real foothold in the market. That decompression has seen such growth and enthusiasm over the last decade is a testament to the dynamic effect decompression/traction can offer back pain patients, even with limited and/or biased education. In 1998, surveys by 2 major manufacturers suggested less than 10% of DC’s actively marketed decompression, a survey by The American Chiropractor, in ’09 reveals as many as 34% now do. Emphasizing doctor skill empowers both the doctor and the chiropractic profession as the producer of the result, relegating the machine to its proper role as simply a tool. This being the conclusion from both the FDA as well as the “significant results” gained from the research trials NOT using specialized, expensive equipment.

More and more, chiropractors are seeking the knowledge of how to do decompression before purchasing a decompression system; analogous with learning how to adjust before buying an adjusting table. We have seen a four-fold increase in attendance of chiropractors not having first purchased a Decompression/traction system at our seminars this past year.

Technique is defined as a method or procedure utilized to undertake an activity. One might conclude that where there are more opinions than facts, the more numerous the “techniques”.

Decompression/traction therapy is fraught with numerous opinions as well. But, unlike adjusting techniques, decompression therapy has the added burden of relentless hyperbolic and unsupported marketing claims. This has created an environment of confusion, obfuscation and manufacturer biased training that has, at once, both grown and stymied the use of this highly valuable therapy to under 30% of the profession. Many thoughtful and well seasoned clinicians have fallen prey to the claims, jumping in with eyes wide shut. The vast majority who seek “decompression technique training” tend to do so in order to get the better results with whatever equipment they purchased. Many are also acutely aware of the risk potential of applying a therapy to patients without formal training in the procedure.

Decompression/traction applied to a disc with an intact, hydrostatic nucleus will “decompress;” i.e., create a centripetal effect and an osmotic gradient. This enhanced and expedited osmosis in addition to activation of pain gate mechanisms, can perhaps hyper-accelerate the slow matrix healing of the disc and avoid the negative effects associated with inversion and excessive bed rest.

What constitutes decompression as a technique is having an objective clinically driven treatment algorithm and patient classification system without necessary alignment with a particular machine.

Patient selection classification is the obvious and rational trend in physical medicine and so, too, with decompression therapy. The only requirement of a machine is to allow the greatest versatility and amendment to the patient condition…the system must work with us, not get in our way. We need to classify our patient based on reasonable scientific and clinical standards first. Fortunately, many pioneers have paved the road before us, such as McKenzie, McGill, Grieves, Sarhman, Lee, etc.

By focusing on current research, we can create a much clearer pattern of disc pain vs. non-disc pain, and somatic referral vs. radicular symptoms. This research is available in the works of Bogduk, Towmey, Grieves and Mulligan, to mention a few. Certain clinical tests, such as Form & Force-closure, can afford a viable differential prediction between a disc compression problem vs. a movement disorder not predominantly disc related. Straight Leg Raising ( SLR), Femoral stretch, Millgrams and other “nerve-tension” signs can offer an excellent sensitivity/specificity ratio in helping us adjudicate nerve tension from simple discogenic pain or annular tears. Each condition, though often manifesting similar subjective complaints, may require distinctly different treatment methods to be effective. First do no harm is as important in chiropractic & decompression therapy as it is in medicine. A good technique eliminates one-size-fits-all and creates a codified and pointed treatment plan. This affords the clinician a reasonable direction-of-travel from diagnosis to treatment parameters, whether supine, prone, directional-preference, side-lying, short, long or Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) protocols. Chiropractors can now learn and utilize a technique with decompression to better treat injured discs. We, as clinicians, can never know with utter certainty prior to the treatment if it will compel the body to heal; but, we can, based on reasonable and research proven classification parameters, give ourselves and the patient the best possible decompression/traction intervention available.


Dr. Jay Kennedy is a 1987 graduate of Palmer Chiropractic College and developer of the Kennedy Decompression Technique. Dr. Kennedy teaches his popular technique to practitioners who want to learn how to become experts in the application of this increasingly mainstream therapy. Kennedy Decompression Technique Seminars are approved for CE through various Chiropractic Colleges. For more information, visit