Cause and Effect

Stretching protocol halts back spasms, relieves pain.

Twenty years ago, Dan Sullivan got fed up with the 9 to 5 routine of corporate America and set out on a new career path. Initially, he bought and sold income properties but later discovered his niche after purchasing four self-storage businesses in northeast Connecticut.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Dan Sullivan

“Before I left the corporate world, I worked in technology and business development for 15 years,” the 68-year-old Boston native shares. “I worked in engineering and manufacturing before that. But I got bored. That wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“After deciding to go off and do my own thing, I wound up with the storage facilities. I’m kind of semi-retired now. I still have my fingers in the businesses up north, but I currently reside in Florida. There’s a lot I can do with technology to manage the facilities, and I go back to Connecticut a couple of times a year to check in and visit family as well.”

Being semi-retired gives Dan plenty of time for his favorite warm-weather activities, especially golfing. He typically plays at least three times a week, but toward the end of last year, increasing back pain put a stop to his regular tee times.

“I’ve had a bad back for 10, 12 years,” Dan recalls. “It all started when I hyperextended a muscle being stupid about lifting. After that, I started getting muscle spasms, and my back tightened up more and more as I got older. It was solely a soft tissue injury. There were no discs involved. But my back muscles were hard as a rock.

“It really got my attention a few months ago when I started having trouble golfing. When the muscle spasms first started, I took a few days off. Then I golfed again and was all right for a few days. But the spasms returned, and eventually, I couldn’t golf at all.

“Then on Christmas morning, I got really bad muscle spasms. I did the usual, used ice and muscle relaxants, which helped, but the pain came back after four or five days. That’s when a friend told me about Dr. Johnson.”

Dr. Johnson is Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC, of Johnson Medical Center in Venice. He specializes in a unique treatment protocol for back and neck pain called Sedative Stretching, which is an expanded and comprehensive form of Manipulation Under Anesthesia, or MUA. Dr. Johnson performed a thorough evaluation of Dan’s back and reported his findings.

“When Dan arrived at our office, his chief complaint was lower back spasms that became debilitating,” Dr. Johnson acknowledges. “He described his back pain as deep and numb with shooting spasms. His back was also stiff and tight. He rated the pain as a nine on a scale of one to 10. Because he likes many physical activities, including dirt bike riding, surfing and golfing, he was a good candidate for Sedative Stretching.”

Before moving to Sedative Stretching, Dr. Johnson typically cares for his patients in a more traditional manner using chiropractic treatments and physical therapy. That was true for Dan as well, but before long, Dan’s symptoms intensified.

“After about two weeks, the back spasms became excruciating, debilitating,” Dan remembers. “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t move. I’ve never experienced that much pain before. I couldn’t take a step without feeling like someone was stabbing me in the back. My wife wanted to take me to the emergency room, but I said, No, let’s try Dr. Johnson first.

“I went to Dr. Johnson on a Tuesday, and he was able to loosen me up and calm the spasms a little, then he scheduled me for Sedative Stretching on the upcoming Thursday. He performed the procedure at the end of January. It was nothing short of miraculous.”

Stiff and Sore

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 points out. “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. But over time, these injuries develop into severe and sometimes debilitating conditions.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

“I started golfing again just 12 days after my Sedative Stretching procedure”

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process during which a mesh of connective tissue, commonly known as scar tissue, is laid down. 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 symptoms and warning signs 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.

“Regrettably, 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.”

Mobilizing Joints

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.

“We use light, comprehensive stretching techniques while the patient is sedated,” Dr. Johnson explains. “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.”

Coordinating the Sedative Stretching procedure is 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.

“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 states. “This is truly correcting the original cause of their conditions.”

“Instant” Results

Dan’s back muscles were extremely tight as a result of the scar tissue adhesions, so Dr. Johnson had to be very aggressive during his Sedative Stretching. The chiropractor warned Dan that he would likely be sore following the procedure. But Dan was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was he hardly sore, he also felt immediate pain relief.

“The results of my Sedative Stretching procedure were instant,” Dan raves. “All of a sudden, my back spasms were gone and I felt very loose. The tightness was gone. The pain was gone. I waited for something to happen, for the pain to return, but it never did.

“Having been restricted in my movements and having gone through what I had, I was kind of afraid to move at first. I slowly had to get comfortable bending over and moving again. Now, I can bend like I did 10 years ago.

“I’m doing the follow-up therapy now, which is a three-step process. First, Dr. Johnson examines me and manipulates my lower back and spine, then an assistant does what’s called assisted stretching. That’s where they stretch me in a way I can’t stretch myself. Then, I get either a laser or electrical stimulation treatment.”

Between Sedative Stretching and the follow-up therapy, Dan has recovered sufficiently from his back condition to return to his favorite activities. He recently welcomed the opportunity to get back on the golf course.

“I started golfing again just 12 days after my Sedative Stretching procedure,” Dan reports. “I first golfed on a Tuesday and then golfed again two days later. And I walked the entire 18 holes. I can work in the yard and walk my dogs without pain as well.”

From the first time Dan met Dr. Johnson, he was impressed by the skilled chiropractor.

“Dr. Johnson is a very thorough, honest, straightforward guy,” Dan describes. “He earned my confidence because he knows what he’s doing and solves problems. I’ve recommended him and his Sedative Stretching four or five times already. The procedure took 10 years off of my back.”

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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