Back at It

Stretching protocol relieves aggravating, debilitating back pain.

Sheila Katko, 64, is semi-retired. She works part-time for a company that manages the release of patient medical records from hospitals to individual physicians. The Indiana native works from her Port Charlotte home, which became home three years ago when she relocated from Indiana to Florida.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Sheila Katko

“My husband really hates the cold, so he started coming down to Florida for the winters while I stayed in Indiana because I didn’t want to give up my job,” Sheila shares. “One year, I came down to Florida to stay for six weeks, and I was hooked.”

For years, Sheila dealt with a recurring back issue. Whenever she performed an activity for an extended period of time, her low back would become painful. Over time, however, she adapted to the discomfort and went on with her life. But three years ago, an incident occurred that caused pain she couldn’t live with.

“I don’t know what happened,” Sheila says. “I was outside with my dogs, and I experienced this excruciating pain in my lower back. I was just standing there. I don’t know if I twisted or did something else, but I just about fell over from the pain. It was awful.

“Recently, I called Dr. Johnson and told him, You really saved my life.” – Sheila

“The pain got worse and worse until I could barely walk. But if I sat for more than ten minutes, I’d be in agony. My lower back was constantly tight, and in the lower right side, it felt like somebody was stabbing me with a knife and then twisting it. The pain was intense. The only thing that helped at all was lying back on a recliner.

“I couldn’t function. I couldn’t walk my dogs. We couldn’t go out and have an evening out because I couldn’t sit. I could hardly go to the grocery store. If I bent down to get something, I couldn’t get back up. I had trouble sleeping as well. Every time I turned over, my back locked up. I was a decrepit, old lady, and I didn’t know what to do about it.”

Sheila’s doctor had a few ideas. One was to have Sheila complete a course of physical therapy. Upon completion of the course, however, Sheila was still in pain. She next visited a pain management specialist who tried easing the agony by performing a couple of specialty treatment techniques.

The doctor tried radiofrequency ablation, where they burn your nerves, and that worked for about two weeks,” Sheila describes. “Then the doctor gave me steroid injections, and those worked for a couple of weeks, but the pain returned yet again.”

Soon thereafter, Sheila’s husband heard about Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC, and his specialized treatment protocol for back and neck pain called Sedative Stretching. Dr. Johnson is a skilled and experienced chiropractor at Johnson Medical Center in Venice. He has expertise in Sedative Stretching, which is an expanded and comprehensive form of Manipulation Under Anesthesia, or MUA.

“I was skeptical about it at first, but my husband said, What have you got to lose? You’ve tried everything else, so I made an appointment,” Sheila recalls. “Dr. Johnson was so caring and kind. He took his time to explain everything to me, and he gave me a folder with all of the information about Sedative Stretching.”

“I remember Sheila very well,” Dr. Johnson states. “She came to us with back pain that began in 2016 and became progressively worse. She experienced pain within the first minute of standing and walking, and she was unable to walk or stand for more than ten minutes at a time. Since she had tried physical therapy and several pain management techniques without much success, I believed she was a perfect candidate for Sedative Stretching.”

“Dr. Johnson took x-rays and told me I had two joints that were fused a long time ago, maybe when I was a kid,” Sheila relates. “He also said there was a lot of scar tissue around all of the joints in my back. I also have scoliosis, which didn’t help with the pain.

“He then explained that during Sedative Stretching, he’ll stretch all of my joints and get them moving again. And once they’re moving, they’ll break up that scar tissue. That made sense to me, so I decided to do the Sedative Stretching.”

Stock photo from in Excess

Sedative Stretching can benefit many people with painful muscle and joint conditions. Ideal candidates are those with conditions such as unresolved neck and back pain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, frozen shoulder, acute and chronic muscle spasm, headaches and failed back surgery syndrome. The procedure can also benefit people who want to regain lost flexibility or those who are “sick and tired of being stiff and sore.”

“It’s best for people to address the cause of their condition as early as they possibly can,” Dr. Johnson observes. “The chronic stiffness, tightness and pain cause excessive wear and tear on the joints of the spine and extremities, resulting in permanent degeneration and arthritis.

“People start losing flexibility after minor injuries incurred during their typical daily activities result in chronic, low-grade inflammation. Many times, this occurs in early childhood and is a long-forgotten event. Over time, these injuries develop into severe and sometimes debilitating conditions.”

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process, which lays down a mesh of connective tissue, commonly known as scar tissue. Over time, layer upon layer of scar tissue can form in the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joints, restricting the joints’ ability to move properly. These layers of scar tissue are called adhesions.

The warning signs and symptoms generally associated with adhesions include the slow and insidious loss of flexibility, as well as an increasing achiness and soreness. Most people will attribute this to normal aging. While it’s very common to become stiff and sore with age, it’s not normal.

“People will compensate how they move their bodies when this occurs, although they don’t always realize it,” Dr. Johnson notes. “This is evident everywhere while watching the way people walk, bend, twist and turn.
“Sadly, many people wait until significant damage from excessive wear and tear has occurred before seeking appropriate care. Often, people will utilize over-the-counter and prescriptive medications, which help alleviate their symptoms.

“Unfortunately, this gives the patient a false sense of being cured while the underlying scar tissue continues to cause excessive damage.”

Freeing Adhesions

During Sedative Stretching, the patient is put under light sedation, often called twilight sedation. With the patient relaxed, the affected joints are brought through their normal full range of motion, freeing the adhesions that have developed between the joints, causing pain.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Sedative Stretching has made it easier for Sheila to play with Maggie.

“We use light, comprehensive stretching techniques while the patient is sedated,” Dr. Johnson describes. “Since we don’t have to contend with tense, guarded muscles, we are able to free up the scar tissue and mobilize the joints without causing the patient any discomfort. This would be impossible to do without the use of sedation.”

The Sedative Stretching procedure is coordinated by a highly trained team of medical professionals. Generally, there are multiple health care providers present, including an anesthetist and several nurses. Patients usually require only one procedure. It is very rare that patients require a second procedure to fully address their condition.

Dr. Johnson recommends that patients follow up the procedure by spending about two weeks in a rehabilitation program designed to reinforce the increased movements obtained from the treatment. During this time, patients are taught stretching exercises that prevent the condition from recurring.

“By following the recommended exercises, patients regain the flexibility they had decades before, and they generally return to activities they haven’t done in years,” Dr. Johnson informs. “This is truly correcting the original cause of their conditions.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Lela “Ann” Young

Standing Engagement

Lela “Ann” Young, 72, spent most of her working years on her feet, first as a men’s hairstylist, then as an assistant to her husband.

“I retired a long time ago, but then I worked with my husband in his job as a manufacturer’s representative to the safety and industrial trade,” she confirms. “He worked a lot of trade shows and things like that, so I was on my feet a lot at those events.”

A Knoxville, Tennessee native, Ann relocated to Florida in 2017 by way of Atlanta, Georgia. The balmy Florida weather was the main motivating factor for the move.

“We had ice and snow in Atlanta, which we don’t miss at all, and we wanted beautiful weather year-round,” Ann explains. “We wanted to be able to play golf all year long, so Venice was the perfect place for us to live.”

Like Sheila, Ann had a longstanding issue with back pain. She can’t remember one defining injury that initiated the pain but does recall an incident 30 years ago that may have contributed to the problem.

“I fell back in the Eighties, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with it,” Ann relates. “I just know that my back hurt after I fell, and it hurt more and more as I got older.

“The pain was located in my lower back, and it hurt all the time. It just ached and hurt. I was always kind of humped over because of the pain, and for the most part, I just dealt with it and went on with my life as best I could.

“But the pain kept me from doing some things. I didn’t play golf as much because I always had to rest between playing, and the back pain affected my swing. My husband had to help me with the housework. He always vacuumed for me.”

Ann became curious when a few friends told her about Dr. Johnson and his Sedative Stretching. She also read an article in Florida Health Care News that gave her additional information, so she thought she’d give the doctor and his treatment a try.

“I’m more flexible since the Sedative Stretching procedure. I swing the golf club so freely now that I can’t believe it.” – Ann

“Ann told me that years ago, she fell on the ice and landed flat on her pelvis,” Dr. Johnson notes. “She’s had recurring lower back pain ever since. Her pain was a seven to nine on a scale of zero to ten. She continued to be active even though she was in constant pain.

“My examination revealed swelling throughout her lower back and pelvis. Her sciatic nerve was irritated and inflamed, and she lost significant range of motion in the lower segments of her spine. X-rays revealed severe disc degeneration in the last two segments of her spine as well as facet arthrosis.

“Ann also exhibited a decrease in her ankle reflexes and strength in her hip flexor muscles. I was convinced Sedative Stretching would help her.”

Stock photo from

Dr. Johnson encourages his patients to do
stretches like these every day.

“Dr. Johnson was very concerned and interested in the story of my back pain,” Ann recalls. “He took some x-rays and found out things about my back that I didn’t realize were wrong with it and explained it all to me in detail.

“He is very knowledgeable and that made me feel very comfortable about what he was saying. He told me he thought Sedative Stretching could really help me. Nobody had told me before that they could help me, so I thought, Why not give it a chance? I’m glad I did.”

Vivid Memory

Ann remembers the day of her Sedative Stretching vividly. She got up early in the morning to arrive at the surgery center on time. The staff at the center prepped her for the procedure, then Dr. Johnson stopped by to go over some last-minute instructions. The doctor and his staff then performed the procedure. When it was over, Ann received a surprise.

“When I woke up, my back didn’t hurt,” she raves. “I couldn’t believe it.”

With her pain relieved, Ann regained her energy and drive and soon returned to the activities she previously avoided. She went back to the golf course and the housework, although her husband continues to do the vacuuming just to be helpful.

“Dr. Johnson asked me to wait two weeks before I started golfing again, which I did,” Ann reports. “Now, I play golf two or three times a week with no problems. My back is no longer humped. I’m straighter and I stand up straight. And I’m more flexible since the Sedative Stretching procedure. I swing the golf club so freely now that I can’t believe it.”

It took a little longer for Sheila to experience significant pain relief following her Sedative Stretching. Her pain was decreased somewhat immediately after the procedure, but she still felt occasional shots of pain in her lower back.

“I feel wonderful since my Sedative Stretching procedure. I’m no longer feeling decrepit. Instead, I walk my dogs, I get on my treadmill, I bowl, I sleep, and I go out with the girls.” – Sheila

“It actually took a couple of months before I really felt relief,” Sheila discloses. “One day, I was doing my regular stretching routine and as I lifted then lowered my right leg, I felt something in my back move, like slide up and down. Apparently, I got the joint really moving, and I’ve been doing great ever since.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Ann is swinging freely and pain free since undergoing Sedative Stretching.

“I feel wonderful since my Sedative Stretching procedure. I’m no longer feeling decrepit. Instead, I walk my dogs, I get on my treadmill, I bowl, I sleep, and I go out with the girls. I can get in and out of my car without pain. When I walk around, I think, Wow, I’m walking around and I’m not limping. I’m not bent over.

“It’s amazing how well the Sedative Stretching worked,” Ann says. “I think about how long my back had been hurting and how bad it hurt. And now that it doesn’t hurt anymore, I don’t even know how to describe how good it feels. It’s like a new life for me.

“Sedative Stretching was one hundred percent successful for me. I’ve already talked to a few people about the procedure and about Dr. Johnson. He is a very genuine person who really cares about people and wants to help them.

“He is also a very dedicated person, and he made me feel better when I didn’t think anyone or anything could make me feel better. It should make everyone feel good to know that there’s someone out there who can really help them.”
Sheila notes that Dr. Johnson and his stretching protocol made a huge difference for her as well.

“Before my Sedative Stretching procedure, I was at my wit’s end,” she relates. “I didn’t think any surgery would help, and I was just not going to go on opioids. I had taken so much ibuprofen for the pain that I actually damaged my kidney, and I can’t ever take ibuprofen again.

“Recently, I called Dr. Johnson and told him, You really saved my life.

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    • Johnson Medical Center

      Dr. Jeffery P. Johnson has practiced in Venice, Florida since 1986. His practice is focused on treating patients with many conditions, including those that are not responding to conventional treatments such as physical therapy, chiro... Read More

    • Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC

      Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC, is a graduate of Life Chiropractic University, Marietta, GA, with additional training through National College of Chiropractic, Chicago, in Manipulation Under Anesthesia, proprietary substances, and chiropracti... Read More