Straight Chiropractic/Transverse myelitis


I was hit with this 3 mths ago and I'm on recovery side of it. I lost all from waist down and am walking again and slowly getting better. I still have no control over bowel or bladder yet. I would like to find a chiropractor that would know how to help me with adjustments as I also have 2 bulging disks that have never given me problems but who knows may have an impact on recovery. I would like to know if u can help me find a dr in my area of st charles mo or st louis mo.

Dear Lynn,

Thank you for your question about your accident history and current symptoms.  Your question is similar to those I have heard from others who are investigating chiropractic.  In order to answer it properly, I’ll first need to give you some background on anatomy and physiology and how they relate to the chiropractic profession.    

There are two branches or schools of thought in chiropractic.  Briefly, they are differentiated by whether they deal with the limited therapeutic approach for aches and pains (commonly termed "mixed" chiropractic because it represents a mixture of a chiropractor with a non-chiropractic matter) or a non-therapeutic approach to optimum body performance (termed "straight" chiropractic because there is no mixing of chiropractic with anything else).  My expertise is in non-therapeutic straight chiropractic.

Therapeutic "mixed" chiropractic is the older approach based on a split from the founding principles of chiropractic about a century ago.  

Non-therapeutic "straight" chiropractic is the more modern of the two.  It deals with a particular, common situation called a vertebral subluxation.  This is not the same as the findings or any of the other symptoms you mention in your question, though they may exist together with vertebral subluxations.  The spine is made of many bone segments which house and protect the spinal cord and the smaller spinal nerve branches that come off the spinal cord and exit between the bones.  These nerve pathways carry information or messages between the brain and the cells of the body.  These messages are essential for the life of the cells.  Without brain messages, the cells immediately begin the process of dying; i.e., they can no longer function the way they should to maintain life.

Because the bones are moveable, they can misalign in such a way as to interfere with the messages and, ultimately, the ability of the person to function at their best or express their optimum potential, whatever that may be.  People with vertebral subluxations are not able to get all they can out of life.

Vertebral subluxations can be caused by a wide variety of factors, what we'll generally call stresses.  These stresses can be physical (such as accidental traumae, but also sports, exercise routines, sleeping posture and mattress condition, the birth process, sneezing, falling down, etc.), mental / emotional (in its many forms, probably the most familiar use of the word stress), or chemical (such as pollution, drugs, food additives, etc.), which are, unfortunately, uncontrollable and regular parts of daily living for all age groups.  In short, a vertebral subluxation can occur for a multitude of reasons.

Tragically, vertebral subluxations are rarely obvious to the individual they affect.  They usually have no symptoms.  The reason is that most of what goes on inside you happens without your awareness.  As an example, try to "feel" your liver.  What's it doing right now?  You can't know, so you can't know if it's functioning at its best or something less.  To complicate things, nerve pathways that carry messages of control (termed "motor" nerves) have no way of transmitting ache or pain messages, so your body function may be far from perfect and you'd not have any alerting signal whatsoever.  The branching of the nerve pathways is complex and extensive, making it exceedingly difficult to predict or determine exactly how the person will be affected.  For this reason alone, it is impossible for anyone to give you reliable answers as to a connection between the spine and specific symptoms of any kind.  Certainly, every part of the body must have connections to the nerve system so that vital information may be transmitted between the brain and the cells.  There are some who would attempt to review the possible nerve connections between a nerve root and specific organs or tissues, but this ignores the multitude of variables that determine the expression of function.  The matter of how your individual body carries out the myriad of activities just to maintain life is enormous and would require your Creator’s (or creator’s, for the agnostic) knowledge to explain or control, or at least far more than our educated knowledge of the complexities of life.
From the non-therapeutic standpoint, then, the method of the non-therapeutic straight chiropractor is not based on symptomatology.  Adjustments are made if and when a subluxation is detected – and only then.    

Also, please understand that this is not an explanation of why you have the various symptoms you described or whether they are related to vertebral subluxation.  Symptoms of any kind are certainly not reliable indicators of vertebral subluxation.  Are there reasons for what you’re experiencing?  Even though they may be beyond our ability to identify, yes, there are; but pinning them down is not relevant to the matter of whether you will benefit from being free of vertebral subluxations.  Vertebral subluxation is, in and of itself, detrimental to your life.  It is not valid or reliable to try to connect it to hand complaints, for instance, from the things you mentioned, or any other organ or tissue conditions.  

Visiting a non-therapeutic straight chiropractor can be of benefit to you, but perhaps in larger ways than you may think at first.  A key question to ask for your purposes, then, would be, Is someone with the history and symptoms you report better off with vertebral subluxation / nerve interference or free of subluxation / with the nerve channels open?  It is easy to see that having all the available nerve messages getting through is better than only some of them getting through, regardless of the person's situation otherwise.  It’s not that you should see a non-therapeutic straight chiropractor FOR your symptoms – you should visit one in an effort to be free of vertebral subluxations, even WITH those symptoms.  Non-therapeutic straight chiropractic is not about diagnosing and/or treating these complaints or any therapeutic-model or medical condition.  It is entirely separate in its goal.  

The only way to know if someone has a vertebral subluxation is to have that person’s spine checked by a non-therapeutic straight chiropractor using a method of "analysis."  When a vertebral subluxation is detected this way, it is obviously important to correct it as soon as possible.  The term for this procedure is “adjustment.”  

Notably, since vertebral subluxations are caused by so many different things, people choose to go to a non-therapeutic straight chiropractor on a regular basis to enjoy the most time free of the life-robbing effects of vertebral subluxation. There's a saying that straight chiropractic is not about your back, it's not about pain, it's about your life.  Each person has a unique potential in life.  With vertebral subluxation, it's impossible to realize that potential.

As I mentioned earlier, not all chiropractors adhere to this and it is important that you be able to distinguish which ones do if you're going to seek this type of service.  You need to understand very clearly that the practice objectives of therapeutic mixed chiropractic and non-therapeutic straight chiropractic are quite different, as described above.  What I can tell you must not be interpreted from the mixed viewpoint.  

It sounds as if you may be seeking someone from the therapeutic mixed viewpoint, though it may be that your issues are outside the chiropractic scope entirely.  

That said, it would still be wise to have your spine checked for subluxations by a non-therapeutic straight chiropractor even if you still elect to have therapeutic attention for therapeutic concerns, such as the history and symptoms you describe, whatever their cause, with another provider, whether that is with a therapeutic mixing chiropractor or some other provider to do so.  

If you are interested in finding out how to locate a non-therapeutic straight chiropractor in your area, please contact me at this site again or at  

Lynn, I wish you the best in understanding what non-therapeutic straight chiropractic has to offer.  It has been my pleasure to provide you with some information.  I hope this reaches you in time for it to be useful to you.  

James W. Healey, D.C.

Straight Chiropractic

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James W. Healey, D.C.


I can answer questions about what is known as Straight Chiropractic, a modern branch of chiropractic focusing on individual potential and optimum human performance, and Vertebral Subluxation, a very common condition of spinal bones which affects an individual`s ability to express their full potential in every aspect of human performance.


I have been in this field for over thirty years, in private practice and as a lecturer at seminars around the country. I have served on the faculty and administrations of two Straight Chiropractic Colleges and was the president of a federally-recognized Straight Chiropractic accrediting agency.

I have served as an officer and director of the Federation of Straight Chiropractors and Organizations (FSCO), an international organization, and am a member and director of the Garden State Chiropractic Society (GSCS) in New Jersey. I am a member of The Chiropractic Trust and the review board of the Journal of Straight Chiropractic.

I am a regular contributor to Straight To You, the Journal of the Garden State Chiropractic Society and was a columnist for Dynamic Chiropractic. I have also been published in The Chiropractic Journal and publications of the Federation of Straight Chiropractors and Organizations.

I am a 1981 graduate of Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic, attended University of Chicago and hold a Bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College.

Awards and Honors
I am a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was named Chiropractor of the Year in 1986, 1991, 1996 and 1998 by the Garden State Chiropractic Society and Regent of the Year in 1985 by Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic.

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