Upper Cervical Procedure Relieves Low Back Pain

Golf pro swings into action with mathematically based spinal adjustments.

Rob Bischofberger is all about golf. For 15 years, he played as a professional, then he worked as a club pro. He has remained in the golf business, but now works on the technology side, dealing with GPS and fleet telematics on golf carts and coach busses. He still plays routinely, as well.

Photo courtesy of Rob Bischofberger.

With treatment, Rob can swing his golf clubs without causing intense back pain

Back in 2010, when Rob was still playing as a club pro, he began to experience some discomfort in his back. It bothered him most when swinging his golf clubs and when leaning over to assist people in the pro shop. It was a situation that threatened his livelihood.
“Golf is a strenuous activity on the back,” he observes. “I developed lower back pain from practicing and trying to stay on par with my competitors. Part of the reason for the pain was the stress my golf swing put on my back. Part of it was the bending down and different angles that went into giving people lessons.
“The pain got progressively worse – to the point it took me thirty minutes to get out of bed. I’d have to stretch, which alleviated some of the pain. But then, I would go out and practice and put more stress on my back, and the pain returned. It affected my golf game and my daily activities.
“I also had shooting pain going down my legs. I felt like I had a cement block in my lower back so that bending down gave me a cramping sensation. Bending also locked up my back, and it took me thirty seconds to catch my breath and slowly straighten myself out and get in to a comfortable position just to be able to walk.”
Rob’s pain got worse the more he practiced, played and worked. He visited several chiropractors who adjusted his spine the traditional way, but that only gave him limited relief. When the doctors started talking about back surgery, Rob started focusing on finding a different treatment for his back pain. A few of his golf buddies recommended Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, and his practice, Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
Dr. Zabawa takes a unique approach to adjusting the spine to relieve back pain and other disorders. An upper cervical chiropractor, board certified in orthospinology, Dr. Zabawa uses gentle, precise adjustment protocols known as Orthospinology and Atlas Orthogonal procedures to treat misalignments of the spine.
The atlas adjustment procedure, which Dr. Zabawa suggested for Rob, maintains the precise alignment of the atlas vertebra. The atlas is the first vertebra in the neck that connects the head to the cervical spine. It controls the balance of the entire body.

Unexpected Connections

“The body has a reflex to keep the eyes and brain level,” explains
Dr. Zabawa. “The spine will distort itself all the way down to keep the body level. If there’s a misalignment of the upper cervical vertebrae, the low back will compensate. The hips will torque and put pressure on the back.
“The atlas adjustment takes the pressure off. The head becomes balanced, so patients no longer have the torque on their lower backs. Many of my patients have no neck symptoms at all. They have low back problems, but adjusting the neck takes care of the back.”
“I was a little skeptical at first,” admits Rob. “I tried many chiropractors. This procedure worked for my golfing buddies, but would it work for me? I went into it with a mindset of there’s a fifty percent chance it might help, or I might have to look elsewhere.
“But after Dr. Zabawa took the x-rays and explained just what he did and why he concentrated on that area of the spine, I left the office feeling I had more like a ninety percent chance. I thought, This is actually going to work for me. It was a different avenue, and I believed Dr. Zabawa’s explanation over what the other chiropractors told me.”
The balance of the head on the neck controls the body’s posture, so this balance is essential to good health. Misalignment of the atlas vertebra causes the spine to twist in an attempt to maintain balance. This twist can pinch nerves and put pressure on the spinal cord or brain stem, affecting the nervous system. In turn, the pressure can cause a variety of symptoms and problems, many of which can appear to be unassociated with the cervical spine.
When a patient first arrives at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota, Dr. Zabawa conducts a complete examination to check for subluxation.
“Subluxation is just a big word meaning two bones are out of position and you have nerve pressure,” informs Dr. Zabawa. “If there is subluxation and we’ve determined that a patient is a good candidate for the atlas procedure, then we take a series of extremely detailed, three-dimensional x-rays. Since the adjustment is highly precise, the measurements we take and the analysis we make are also meticulous. When I know the exact angle at which a patient is misaligned, I know how to adjust them.”
The gentleness of the adjustment is what makes upper cervical chiropractic unique, asserts the doctor. “Unlike other chiropractors, I don’t ‘snap-crackle-pop’ you. Here, you lie on your side and gently – it almost feels like a puff of air touching you – using one instrument, I realign your whole spine. An upper cervical correction is very controlled so there is no pulling or jerking of such a delicate area.

“Many of my patients have no neck symptoms at all. They have low back problems, but adjusting the neck takes care of the back.” – Dr. Zabawa

“When I adjust the upper cervicals, I’m actually adjusting the full spine, including the pelvis and sacrum. Once the spine, head and neck have returned to their proper positions, interference is removed thus taking pressure off the nervous system. By removing that pressure, balance is restored to the body. It’s an effective approach without any extreme manipulations.”
“I enjoyed the treatment itself,” reports Rob. “It’s not about cracking bones like normal chiropractic. It’s a simple, pain-free procedure where the doctor barely touches you. After three or four treatments, I was feeling one hundred percent better. I felt mobility I hadn’t felt in years.”

Scratch Golf

The increased mobility Rob experienced following his atlas procedures put him back in the game. He was able to do more of the everyday activities with his family, and golfing became more comfortable.
“My daily life definitely changed because of my treatment with
Dr. Zabawa,” marvels Rob. “Without the pain, I can bend over and play with my kids. I can help my wife do the yard work and landscaping and be confident I’m not going to be in pain the next day.
“I golf three to four times a week, all pain free. It’s enjoyable again to play. It’s good to be able to golf without the pain that used to restrict me. Now, my swing is great. I’m still a scratch golfer.”
As Rob golfs regularly, stress continues to be placed on his lower back. The difference is now he knows how, why and what to do if that stress leads to lower back discomfort. He still goes to Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota once a month for maintenance adjustments.
“I used to worry about the pain I got from swinging a golf club,” relates Rob. “Now, I’m pain free and have been since 2010. I cannot ask for anything better than the treatment I receive from Dr. Zabawa.”

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