Chiropractic Combined with Physical Therapy

Posted On: October 10, 2011

Chiropractic Combined with Physical Therapy

As October is National Physical Therapy Month and National Chiropractic Month, I would like to continue along with the theme of how I as a chiropractic physician became interested in physical therapy.

I am Dr. David Johnson and I am licensed as both a chiropractic physician and as a physical therapist in Illinois. I am also the director of North Shore Spinal and Sports Rehabilitation a clinic that integrates physical therapy, chiropractic and massage therapy to help our patients achieve their goals.

My early training as a doctor of chiropractic was at the Logan College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield Missouri. Logan was a good school and we were taught by not only by chiropractic physicians but by medical doctors as well. One of our teachers was a physical therapist named Mike Cibulka. Mike is an excellent therapist who came over to teach at Logan. He taught me that, every patient deserves the dignity of a therapeutic exercise program. It was as a result of his influence that I first got exposed to the physical therapy profession.

When I opened my first practice in Lake Forest, Illinois I was a chiropractic physician that was focused on not only adjusting patients but also building exercise programs to help my patients recover. I actually felt very strongly that my spinal patients needed strengthening not only of the abdominal musculature but of their spinal muscles as well.

This was 1988 and there was very little published literature on spinal strengthening, so I intuitively started doing balanced strengthening of what we now call the core musculature.

As time went on and the field of spinal rehabilitation exploded into what it is today. I was grateful to Mike Cibulka for starting me off on the right foot. I went so far as to become certified as a personal trainer with the National Association of Sports Medicine so I could better serve my patients. Back in the day, before there were so many personal trainers, I would actually take my patients to their gyms and teach them how to use the equipment to maintain balanced strength. This was a lot of work and a lot of long hours but it was worth it.

I eventually hired personal trainers to work in my practice. All of my early trainers worked at the Multiplex in Deerfield. I was connected with my first trainer, Greg Neiderlander by an anatomy professor at the National College of Chiropractic Dr. Bob Beck. This early team helped me to appreciate the importance of strengthening and conditioning with all of my patients.

In the early 1990’s I hired a physical therapist and changed the practice name to North Shore Spinal and Sports Rehabilitation. I even started to go to physical therapy seminars to learn more about what they had to offer my patients.

One of the early physical therapy seminars was a McKenzie seminar. It was taught by Dr. Gary Jacob who was a chiropractic physician that became certified by the McKenzie Institute to teach a mechanical approach to spinal care which was developed by Robin McKenzie, PT from New Zealand. Dr. Jacob was a pioneer and he was instrumental in teaching me this approach. As a result of the training that I took from him I have literally helped thousands of people with lower back pain as a result of disc herniations or other mechanical problems of their spines.

I have found that combining the McKenzie principles with chiropractic adjusting, myofascial release, stretching and strengthening to be the most effective way to address most lower back pain patients. Whether the pain comes from a disc herniation, a facet syndrome, a sprain or a strain these approaches are effective about 90% of the time. These principles can even be adapted to help patient with spinal stenosis though it only seems to help about two out of three of these patients. With that being said these combination of techniques have helped me to help many patients avoid spinal surgery.

Over the years I have made refinements and developments to the spinal stabilization programs that we build at North Shore Spinal and Sports Rehabilitation. As I reflect back on all of the people that influenced my early career, I am thankful for the good fortune that I had to meet and learn from such great teachers. With out these influences North Shore Spinal and Sports Rehabilitation would not be what it is today.

To schedule an appointment, please call our Lake Forest, Lake Bluff office at 847.295.0920, or our Highland Park office at 847.432.4077. You may also use our online Request an Appointment form.

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