Fixing A Crooked Spine, Fighting Chronic Pain

After a 5 hour brain surgery, 6 weeks of hopitalization and 15 months of therapy, I started over again retraining my muscle memory to better spine aligment. Swiss neurosurgeons successfully treated my major brain injury, but had no clue how to help me with my back. Fifteen months later, due to COVID constraints, I was finally allowed to enter the USA. I began intensive therapy to treat injury my body incurred in that bad, bad fall that cracked my skull.

I began treatment with Dr. David Draeger, my guru, a gifted chiropractor in northern Wisconsin. A full set of back x-ray revealed what could not be seen with naked eye, but helped clarify why I couldn’t walk without pain between my shoulder blades, low back, right hip, knee, and heel.

Dr. Dave worked with me to ameliorate bilateral shoulder impingement, scapula dysfunction, rib dislocation, compressed thoracic disks on top of a longstanding chronic low back pain. Chiropractic adjustments included a half dozen on the wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and heels. The physical manipulation helped restore mobility to joints whose motion was restricted by tissue injury caused by a traumatic event.

“I feel awful,” I complained to him.

“No wonder,” Dr. Dave said. “We are restructuring your skeletal system.”

To move forward, I had to go backwards, and forgo any swimming, guitar playing, blog writing, and movements with my arms. Then step by step, I retrained my muscle memory by walking.

Determined to keep moving, I resorted to water walking. I’d wade out above my waist up to neck in the cold lake and pace back and forth out beyond our raft. While the water iced my muscles, the tranquil view of the lake and woods inspired me and an eagle soaring overhead rooted me on.

Additional therapy with Dr. D, included a combination of intense treatments; electrical impulse therapy to help break up scar tissue, high intensity heat therapy and AtlasPROfilax therapy to improve posture and shoulder alignment and help alleviate chronic pain.

AtlasPROfilax, a neuromuscular massage technique, which applies vibro pressure and massages the short neck muscles, remains an effective way to treat C1 (atlas) cervical vertebra. Unfortunately, although developed in 1995 by a Swiss Doctor, René C. Schümperli, I am unable to find a practitioner in the part of Switzerland where we live.

High Intensity Laser Therapy (HILT) delivers healing light energy to the cells of the body that penetrates through bone, soft tissue, and muscle. HILT can reduce pain, minimize swelling, soften scar tissue, and reset the chronic pain cycle – all while healing damaged tissues at the cellular level.

None of this is a quick fix. It requires a long term commitment and a dedicated doctor. Willingness to accept pain as part of the healing process and acknowledging my own role in recovery is paramount.

Recovery became a team effort. I followed Dr. D’s orders to the letter and did whatever was possible to build strength within parameters he set. Restoring good posture required retraining muscle memory one step at a time.

Dr. Dave credits his older brother, Curt, with encouraging him to enter the chiropractor profession and with teaching him new techniques. Known for working with elite Olympian athletes and Greenbay Packer football stars, Dr. Curt also worked with physicists to develop the latest generation of high intensity lasers that are much stronger and penetrate tissue at deeper levels.

Dr. Dave’s clinic is tucked away deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at Eagle River. There he is surrounded by a loyal, hardworking staff and technicians creating a formidable team who exemplify his belief in helping people by trying to accommodate every patient in his overbooked schedule.

Dr. Dave is not only a gifted healer with a warm, engaging, positive personality, but his genuine desire to help people is second to none. I know of no other doctor who makes house calls. Once, he showed up at our summer cabin in the woods, popped out his portable table and adjusted the entire family. For free.

To Dr. Dave, chiropractic care in not just a career, it’s a calling. He makes the world a better place by helping alleviate pain and inspiring hope one spine at a time.

Posted in health, inspiration.


  1. Oh Pat! You have been through SO MUCH! You are a TRUE WARRIOR!!!??
    I to am a Chiro regular! My injury was nothing compared to yours but I broke my pelvis in a fall when I was 40 and didn’t realize it until I started having issues a year later! (When nothing could be done about it.) Chiropractors and massage therapists are my lifeline!
    Glad you are finding relief. Hope you find a good Chiro somewhere closer! Thanks care!

    • Thanks Marilyn,
      So sorry to hear to you too are a fellow Warrior fighting back pain, but you do it so gallantly. Your cheerful disposition never lets on how much you must be suffering each day. Glad you have found relieve in chiropractic care and message therapy. I have a chiropractor here in Switzerland, but he is not as effective as Dr. Dave and he doesn’t have any of therapies I mentioned. I have also gotten a lot of relief from massage and looking for one here where we live now. Keep in touch!

  2. I’m so happy you are back to writing again and it’s a great outlet fir you! Your journey navigating pain has been difficult yet you never, ever give up. Everytime you write about chiropractic care I wonder if one could help me with my lower back and my neck. I had a chiropractor in GA that I loved but he wouldn’t work on my neck anymore after the 4th surgery. I’m completely fused from C3-7 and it’s getting to the point where I can’t even turn my neck to the right. I guess I just need to try one and see how it goes. Thanks for putting it out there and telling your story! Love you sis.

    • Oh Maria, I wish I could recommend someone for you to see out there. I can see why you are unsure about it. I don’t imagine a chiro could adjust the area where you had the fusion, but maybe they could help with the rest of the back. How can you drive if you can’t turn your head to the right? And how do you manage your pain? I hope that you can find some relief. You deserve pain free days!

  3. I can still turn it enough to drive when I need to but Gail does most of the driving. I have a spinal cord stimulator implant for the worst of the new pinched nerves in my neck which helps but does nothing for range of motion. I know at some point I will probably have to quit driving. For my back I take pain pills, have injections and nerve ablations while under the care of a pain management doctor. Like you, this is not the life I thought I would be living but it helps that the other parts of my life are so fulfilling! Love you !

    • Oh my Maria. I don’t know how you keep going. So glad that Gail is right by your side. I admire how you have always kept your sense of humor and positive attitude in spite of living with chronic pain. Love right back at you.

  4. Congrats on finding such a gifted, wonderful doctor, Pat! I can’t fathom the pain you’ve been in, but please hang in there. You’re the kind of patient every doctor hopes for, the kind willing to put in the work required to secure healing. Suffering such a debilitating injury, I imagine, would result in all kinds of pain and movement challenges. One baby step at a time, my friend — you’re in my prayers.

    • Thanks Debbie. You are always so great at giving encouragement that helps keep me going. I always appreciate hearing from you and I am grateful for our long distance friendship.

  5. One of the much helpful health blogs I’ve read in a while. Thankyou for keeping it so simple yet so informative.
    I, myself, do a straight 8 hours job and could feel my back muscles so tensed at the day end.
    I would highly recommend all to do physical exercise daily.
    Ad yes, if you want a chiropractic service, you can get it done from

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