Chiropractor Dr. Charles Zollner is a new clinician contributor to the Lybbaverse.
Dr. Zollner notes, "Most people nowadays, at least in the first world, don’t die from infectious diseases. Instead, they grind down from the chronic diseases of civilization. To what extent, through better diet and lifestyle, can we mitigate these factors?" Here are more considerations and insights gleaned from his practice.
What are you most interested in, of late?
CZ: As a sole practitioner running my own practice, I’m fascinated by the process and balance of maximizing the benefits to my patients with the resources I have available. I call this ideal, “Elegant Simplicity”. This entails the streamlining of resources and processes to help as many people as possible to as great an extent as possible. I was inspired by the book The E Myth by Michael Gerber. It is a business book that discusses the benefits of establishing systems and protocols so that a business (any business) can run efficiently and consistently. Certainly within the healthcare field, we have seen a growing emphasis on protocols and checklists as part of the standard of care. And yet, the danger always lies in catering to the mean at the expense of patients that are statistical outliers. By that I mean using systems that work well for the majority of patients but are less effective with the statistical outliers. The ideal system/procedure/protocol will somehow take into consideration the statistical outliers (i.e. patients that not responding to care) and have additional backup systems/protocols to address them.
In the 15 years I’ve been in practice, I have been trying to hone my skills and procedures to achieve this ephemeral ideal. I wish I could have begun my practice with my current information already under my belt. Similarly, new practitioners have to reinvent the wheel. I think a big challenge within the healthcare field lies in how to best disburse the best practices that have been arrived at through research and, perhaps more importantly, through the individual experiences of practitioners. The big challenge for healthcare, and really any field, in the future will not be gathering information. We are drowning in information. It will be how to best find valuable information (separate the wheat from the chaff) and best distribute it to where it can be used. I suspect this will once again come down to systems and procedures. Elegant Simplicity.
When and why did you become a chiropractor and patient advocate?
CZ: Like so many chiropractors, it was a personal experience. I suppose my story is typical enough. I injured my lower back lifting weights when I was in my 20s. After a year of pain, off and on, a friend suggested I see a chiropractor. The benefits were remarkable. But what attracted me to the field was that chiropractic was facilitating the body’s innate ability to heal. There were no added injections or medications. It all came from within the body. Which then begged the question; in what other ways can we facilitate the body’s ability to heal and to achieve optimum health?
What first sparked your interest in the health and wellness field?
CZ: As I’ve evolved as a practitioner, I have increasingly seen the connection between a person’s lifestyle and their benefits from a chiropractic adjustment. Simply put, what they do in the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of their day is going to have a very big effect on the 10 minute adjustment I give them. This is true of any medical procedure we’re giving to patients. Undoubtedly, this is a huge variable that determines the success of anything from a course of antibiotics to open heart surgery.
Another thing that has increased my awareness is my own aging body. I know I won’t get much sympathy from older people, but I just turned 50. There’s a phrase that I think is apt, “The 40s are the old age of youth. The 50s are the youth of old age.” As I look at my mother, who is about to turn 90, succumb to Alzheimer’s, I wonder what things she could have done differently, if she had had a better understanding of health, to avoid that fate. Similarly, what can I do to stay active and alert to the very end. Most people nowadays, at least in the first world, don’t die from infectious diseases. Instead, they grind down from the chronic diseases of civilization. To what extent, through better diet and lifestyle, can we mitigate these factors?
What do you love most about your practice?
CZ: This is an easy one. Seeing patients get out of pain and experience improved function in their lives. I believe pain permeates all aspects of the patient’s life. Perhaps Grandpa is grouchy or mom is yelling at the kids because of their pain. What then are the societal repercussions of this?
Chiropractic is always emphasizing the connection between spinal alignment/mobility and the health of the nervous system. Research is continually bearing this out. Although the understanding has evolved from the more simplistic “bone out of place pinching on a nerve” concept, the basic principle is still the same. What we now realize is that when spinal joints do not move properly, this inhibits the firing of the mechanoreceptors of those joints. The mechanoreceptors tend to inhibit the firing of the sympathetic nervous system. When they don’t fire due to lack of movement, the sympathetic nervous system tends to go into overdrive. This causes more stress on the body which affects various systems. So more than just relieving pain, we are reducing stress on the body and, in doing so, helping the entire body. One study found that 23% of all people who saw a chiropractor experienced some benefit in a non-musculoskeletal complaint. Indeed, I get that all the time. Patients say to me that they are sleeping better or their digestion is better or they have more energy. One can only wonder what the whole body affects are of the chiropractic adjustment and, in turn, what the societal effects are.