low back

                                                          Thriving or Not?

Discovery by the World Health Organization revealed the number one cause of disability in the world was BACK PAIN. Another major cause of disability in the world was NECK PAIN. What is shocking about these discoveries is that both conditions are preventable.

By Drs. John Ratliff & Katalina Dean D.C.

Are Utah Residents Thriving or Just “Staying Alive”?

The Bee Gee’s hit song “Staying Alive” vaulted to the top of music charts back in the late 1970s. Disco dancing mimicked that alive feeling as the rhythm and the dance moved seamlessly with the beat of the music. It seemed exhilarating, as some of you in Utah may remember. However, the title theme “Staying Alive” should also resonate with younger generations of people, because surviving is a primal instinct that requires vibrant vitality and the ability to thrive. Unfortunately, for many people in society, the opposite is true. Today, millions suffer chronic health disabilities that incapacitate them. Their ability to thrive is reduced to merely “staying alive.”

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.)1 research showed millions of people around the world are disabled most commonly due to low back pain, ranking #1. Neck pain is another major cause of debilitating conditions. Shockingly, both conditions are usually preventable, yet people are living out their lives dibilitated  by these conditions.

You may ask yourself, if back pain and neck pain are preventable and why would people get to a point that they would become disabled? There are two main reasons. First, people wait too long to get their spines checked and usually only after they have pain. By the time pain manifests as a symptom in the body, decades of spinal decay and nervous system damage may have already taken place. Years may have gone by with an untreated condition before sudden incapacitation and/or illness.

Yearly spinal exam and x-rays by a specialist in Chiropractic Spinal Biophysics may be able to catch and correct these conditions early. Exams even as early as four years of age are recommended to prevent health problems.

Dr with patient

People may argue at this point that they have “no pain” and are therefore healthy. This belief is far from the truth, as pain is often the last thing to appear in a disease process. The first symptom of heart disease is often a heart attack that kills you! Instead of waiting for the heart attack, we all know it would be wise to change your diet, watch your blood pressure and get regular check-ups. A great example most people can relate to is the regular dental checkup. No rational person would wait decades to have a dentist check his/her teeth. We all want healthy clean teeth.


Another reason people find themselves with disabling spinal problems is the quick-fix mentality that Americans have adopted. Americans take 75% of all the medications produced in the world, yet they make up only 5% of the population.

Americans are over-medicated, thinking a pill or surgery can “fix” the problem, when we need to look to  the source of the pain or condition and not just manage the symptom..

What causes back pain, how do we correct it, and how do we prevent it?   First, spinal problems occur usually when you have lost the normal  spinal curves . Most people are not familiar with what the spine is supposed to look like from the side. Your spine needs to have three essential curves. “Essential” means that without those curves even simple activities of daily living can damage disc, nerves, muscles, bones, and possibly the spinal cord.

Spinal Disorders

In the journal Spine and in the Journal of Spine Disorders and Techniques 2 a scientifically proven math model of the spine was  developed and published in 3 parts over a 15 year period.  This research study gave doctors a baseline of the spine for the normal population. This was exciting news! A baseline of normal is necessary because once we understand what normal is, then we can understand what abnormal looks like. It is no different from the necessity of a baseline in bloodwork or any other lab work in medicine. We must know what normal is in order to identify abnormal, thus providing a map for a return to health.

                                                                                 The Spine Journal  

low back

We now know that the low back curve for a healthy spine is a 40-degree curve. The lumbar curve supports two-thirds of the body’s weight and therefore has little room for loss of this essential curve. As little as a four-degree loss, dropping the lumbar curve to 36-degrees, can result in chronic pain and lead to a life of disability. Remember, the number one cause of disability worldwide is low back pain, due in part to a loss of this essential curve in the low back.

Modern medicine manages to help many debilitated people who are low-functioning but relying on a myriad of pain medications. This has created a large population, many in Utah, of people who are unable to fully contribute socially or economically to society. They are consigned by their disabilities to a life of longevity, but a state of emotional and physical misery.

People fail to recognize that many leading causes of health disabilities are spine related. Research has proven that spine alignment and nervous system function contribute greatly to one’s health3. However, spinal form and function are often largely ignored by doctors until crisis intervention, using medication and/or surgery to manage pain or salvage structure.

In the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Dr. Deborah Kado MD, MS4 determined an association between poor posture (hyperkyphosis) and morbidity numbers. Also poor posture may shorten life span by up to 15 years.

Recent research in the Spine Journal 2015, Neurosurgeon Dr. Kenneth Hansnaj suggests poor posture related illnesses are showing up in possibly epidemic quantities in our youth, causing early onset heart disease, depression, lung incapacity and neurological problems.5

In addition, Glassman, MD published in Spine in 20056 a study of 752 patients which measured posture and spinal form. He discovered that with every millimeter of loss in the spinal alignment over center of gravity, overall health decreased, showing that the health of the spine is directly related to overall health.

These facts would strongly suggest that we start monitoring posture in our children, and take measures to prevent serious health conditions from developing early on and into old age. 

Fortunately, there is hope and help from specialized chiropractic-trained physicians in a highly-rehabilitative protocol called Chiropractic Spinal Biophysics. This program is designed to help restore the spine’s natural curves, reduce symptoms, and improve overall health in the human body.

Before & After

The chiropractors at Cottonwood Chiropractic and Spinal Biophysics are part of an elite group of doctors with advanced training in Chiropractic Biophysics Spine Rehab, serving Utah residents.

Our mission is to find the source of your condition using digital x-ray and advanced posture analysis software and employ research-based treatments to help reverse developing spinal issues. Our goal is to help you and your family members not just stay alive, but also thrive in life.

For more information on Spinal Biophysics and specialists in the Utah area please go to:

1. World Health Organization (W.H.O.)
2. Journal of Spine Disorders and Techniques 2002 Vol. 15. No. 5 pp 430-439
3. Dr. Alf Breig, MD Neurosurgeon and Nobel Prize recipient, discovered that a loss of cervical curve can stretch the spinal cord, affecting one’s health.
4. American Geriatric Society, Deborah Kado, MD, MS
5. Journal of Spine Disorders 2015 by Kenneth Hasnaj, MD, Neurosurgeon
6. Journal Spine published September 8, 2005 study lead by Dr. Glassman MD

The Washington Post Logo

“Text Neck” linked to Heart Disease                                                                                     

by Katalina Dean D.C.

Kenneth Hansnaj, MD Chief of Spine Surgery, NY Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine study on “text neck” and its linked to Heart Disease can be found in the Surgical Technology International.1 The health of your spine is directly related to healthy organ function and to your overall health. Every inch your neck comes forward from your center of gravity, your overall health declines.2 How is your spine and organ health related? The spine has two functions. First it provides support which is called our posture. The second function is to protect your spinal cord. The spinal cord, or the Central Nervous System, controls every function in the body. The only reason your heart can beat, your lungs can breath, your food can digest or a simple cut on your finger can heal is because your Central Nervous System is controlling these functions. If abnormal pressure is put on any part of the central nervous system it interferes with function to that area of the body.

Experts in spine function and structure have been warning people for decades that the human head weighs 10-15 pounds which is not a problem if it is over it’s center of gravity. In other words, is your ear over your shoulder. For each inch the head comes forward the force increases by 10-15 pounds.

Smartphone and tablet users spend an average of two to four hours a day. This is equal up to 60 pounds of force on your neck.

text neck

Can’t grasp the significance of 60 pounds? Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours per day. Those in the medical and chiropractic field know that this weight will damage discs irreparably if poor postural practices become habitual. Poor postural habits over time have been shown to create serious structural issues. Continuously using these devices, with heads bent forward and down, forces the spine to adapt and actually will reshape your spine overtime and lose the spinal curve all together. Not only can the discs be adversely affected, but the improper spinal position can potentially create a sustained stretch on the spinal cord, brain stem and cerebellum of the brain.3

Research suggests “text neck” is linked to chronic headaches, neurological damage, decreased lung capacity, heart disease and much more.1 Children and adults everywhere, specifically in Utah, shoul be evaluated regularly for prematurely compromised spinal curves and incorrect posture, both of which have been linke to mortality rates and can lead to early pain syndromes and disability.4

Unfortunately, abnormal spinal curves can go undetected for years because early stages of spinal degeneration and spinal decay manifest little to no signs or symptoms. Meanwhile the nerves that are found in the neck affect the heart, lungs, thyroid, brain balance and chemistry to name a few.

Regular spinal exams and x-rays are important for early diagnosis of spinal issue linked to these chronic diseases.

Spine Diagram

Text neck is becoming epidemic in the U.S. Here in Utah, we only need look around us to observe its manifestation. A large majority of the rising generation have his or her head down focused on their phone - absorbed in text conversation, or social media and the newest apps. This phenomenon starts younger and younger with each generation. In our clinic, we note children as young as two and three years old bent over their parent’s phone or tablet. If poor postural habits are linked to heart disease, would the obvious conclusion be, heart disease will manifest itself in younger and younger generations?

In our clinic, we are seeing younger and younger patients with chronic neck pain, migraines and chronic back pain. 20 years ago it was a rare occasion if a child came into our office with chronic back pain. Now we are seeing children as young as four years old with chronic neck pain, back pain and headaches. If your child has sustained poor postural habits for six months or more they could be at risk for “Text neck” and linked heart disease and other health related problems. In our clinic we stress the importance of getting your children examined and x-rayed to catch and correct early spinal decay.

Now that you understand the adverse effects of “text neck” and poor posture, the question is who should you see to diagnosis and correct spinal misalignments? Many professionals in Utah offer help which may decrease symptoms but not correct the underlying cause of the problem. Many doctors are unprepared to deal with this type of structural problem. Physical therapy, though may be great for soft tissue problems, it cannot move bony spinal structures and correct spinal curves. Unless the abnormal spinal curve is returned to its correct position, discs will be affected as well as a sustained stretch on the spinal cord and parts of the brain.3 We believe one reason approximately 80% of spinal surgeries fail eventually is because surgery is designed to treat symptoms and the spinal curves are rarely realigned to the correct posture.

Are you in Utah searching for help? Chiropractors and physiatrists can spot abnormalities pretty quickly with an exam and x-rays; however, only a handful are trained to correct spinal curves here in Utah. A doctor certified in Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP) is specifically trained to detect, diagnosis, and help improve these postural and health related threats. CBP may be the only scientificly proven method with lasting results.

Here at Cottonwood Chiropractic our doctors are Certified Chiropractic Biophysics Physicians. We don’t just get people out of pain, but we help correct the source of the problem by realigning spinal curves. This is why people often get dramatic results. We take before and after x-rays showing the results of your corrective care.

Before & After

 Contact us today for your x-ray and exam. On the web at or call 801-562-2400

1. Kenneth Hansnaj, MD Chief of Spine Surgery, Ny Spine surgery and rehabilitation medicine, National Library of Medicine, 2015
2. Spine (peer-reviewed medical journal)
3. Dr. Alf Breig, MD neurosurgeon and Nobel Prize recipient discovered that a loss of the cervical curve can stretch the spinal cord.
4. American Geriatric Society

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