Happy Hunting Without Pain

Upper cervical procedure relieves neck and back pain, headaches.

It started as a hobby 20 years ago when John Gettle was still in his 50s. He enjoyed organizing alligator hunts in the swamps of Okeechobee County. Eventually, it turned into a second career along with his swimming pool repair and remodeling business. John loved the work, but it sometimes left him with back and neck pain and intense headaches.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

With regular treatments John doesn’t worry about neck pain anymore.

“In the pool business, I had to bend over into the pool and reach and extend my arms above my head a lot to do the electrical work, like changing the motors on pool pumps,” John elaborates. “That would get my neck and back aching and then I’d get the headaches.

“Then, for the gator hunts, we’d hunt all night, and in the morning, I had to get the gators off the truck and put them in coolers. I handled eight-hundred-, nine-hundred-, thousand-pound gators, and then I’d get the pains in my back and neck.”

John twisted, turned and hauled those heavy loads day after day and often worked his pool business during the day before hosting gator hunts at night, with little sleep in between. John’s abuse of his body had a negative impact on his head as well.

“After lifting and doing all that work I shouldn’t have been doing, I’d wake up with headaches,” John shares. “Eventually, they came almost daily. They were throbbing headaches, like migraines, and they were really painful.

“To get relief, I rested and put liniment on my neck, but by the next day, my head hurt again. If I took pain medication, the headaches felt better for a little while, but I’d have to take medication all the time if I wanted the pain to stay away. I don’t like taking a lot of medication, so I put up with the pain rather than take the pills.”

John continued to live this way for more than 15 years, all while struggling to manage his distressing pain. He tried traditional chiropractic treatment, but it wasn’t until he discovered Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, of Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota, that he found sustained relief.

Unlike traditional chiropractors, Dr. Zabawa is an upper cervical chiropractor who uses an extremely accurate approach to adjust the spine and relieve back pain and other disorders. Dr. Zabawa employs gentle, precise adjustment methods called Orthospinology and Atlas Orthogonal to treat misalignments of the spine. He is board certified in Orthospinology.

“John is a very active person,” Dr. Zabawa describes. “He hunts gators, wild hogs and deer. Sometimes, he gets neck pain as a result of his activities. When that occurs, pressure builds up on his brainstem, which leads to decreased cerebrospinal fluid flow and causes headaches.

“When John’s neck is out of alignment, he experiences pressure and pain in his lower back as well. Fortunately, all of these conditions are addressed by the upper cervical adjustment.”

Gentle and Precise

The body has a natural reflex to keep the head, brain, nervous system and eyes level, Dr. Zabawa explains. The spine will distort itself all the way down the body to keep the brain and nervous system level.

“The atlas is the first vertebra in the neck that connects the head to the cervical spine,” he informs. “If there’s a misalignment of the upper cervical vertebrae, the rest of the spine will compensate. It will twist and torque, which puts pressure on areas throughout the spine, including the neck and lower back.

“The atlas adjustment takes pressure off by restoring the proper alignment of the atlas vertebra. This balances the head, relieving the spinal twisting from the neck down to the lower back. In John’s case, it also eased the pressure on his brainstem and increased the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which relieved his headaches.

“Because of the twisting caused by his misalignment, John had one leg that seemed like it was a quarter-inch shorter than the other. This twisting also put pressure on the nerves of his lower back, causing pain. After his atlas adjustment, John’s spine was aligned. There was no more twisting so John’s legs evened out, pressure was taken off of the nerves, and his back pain was resolved.

“I haven’t had headaches for a long time now, not since I’ve been seeing Dr. Zabawa.” – John

“When I adjust the atlas vertebra, I’m actually adjusting the full spine just by touching the neck,” Dr. Zabawa emphasizes. “And we’re achieving phenomenal results with it.”

Dr. Zabawa asserts that the precision and gentleness of the atlas adjustment is what makes upper cervical chiropractic unique.
“Unlike other chiropractors, I don’t snap-crackle-and-pop you,” he says. “An upper cervical correction is a very gentle tap in just the right place for your personal misalignment. There’s no pulling or jerking of such a delicate area. It’s precise and gentle.”

To begin his treatment process, Dr. Zabawa takes three-dimensional x-rays of the patient’s neck to see how their upper cervical bones are misaligned. Using those pictures, he performs calculations to determine the exact angle for the adjustment to take the pressure off of the patient’s spinal column. Thus, the atlas adjustment restores balance to the entire body.

“It’s an effective, more accurate approach without extreme manipulations,” Dr. Zabawa concludes. “Patients may have low back problems or headaches, but just accurately adjusting the neck can address many conditions. It successfully relieved John’s pain so he could remain active.”

John agrees.

“It doesn’t seem like much when he’s doing it, but Dr. Zabawa’s treatments put me into alignment, I feel good when he’s done, and they last,” he states. “Now, it’s a regular thing, and I don’t worry about the pain anymore.”

Staying Normal

John, now 73, recently retired from his pool business, leaving it to his sons, but he’ll still service a client or friend in need. He remains involved with the gator hunts, but not to the extent he used to be. His plans for retirement include lots of hunting, fishing and traveling. And with regular treatments by Dr. Zabawa, John can do it all without pain.

“Dr. Zabawa has done good things for me,” John enthuses. “I haven’t had headaches for a long time now, not since I’ve been seeing Dr. Zabawa. I just don’t get them anymore. It’s amazing that his procedure took them away.

“If I ever get even a little bit of pain in my back or neck from overdoing it, I simply give Dr. Zabawa a call, and he fixes me right up. He gives me a treatment, and I’m good again. By going to Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota and getting routine check-ups, I get back to normal and stay that way.

“I stand by Dr. Zabawa and the work that he does for me,” John declares. “I tell everybody I know who has trouble to go to him because he does a good job. His procedure works. It really helped me.”

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