So that happened!
I intended to write this follow-up post on my experience with Dr. Whitcomb and his Neurologic Relief Centers Technique last Monday, but have been sidelined by a bad flare-up. Yes, I do attribute my flare to the workshop and testing technique, but even so, I intend to give you a fair account of the workshop, although as with everything on my blog, it will be full of my opinions. It may be a lot to follow, so I hope I have managed to present a readable review.
The logistics of the day went like this:
I was initially invited to the workshop by a local acupuncturist who I will call “Dr. J.” The workshop began at 1PM on Friday, July 24. The local acupuncturist as well as several other local chiropractors actually paid for a training session with Whitcomb. They spent all of Thursday and Friday morning training to learn his technique. Then at 1PM on Friday, myself and the other patients whom each practitioner invited arrived for a lecture by Whitcomb. After the hour long presentation, we broke off with the practitioner who invited us to be tested to see if the technique would benefit us.
So What is This Technique?
The technique involves several minutes of firm pressure to either the anterior or posterior neck trigger points. The pressure is intended to release the tension on the nerves that travel through the meninges, and relive the pain and symptoms this tension causes. Whitcomb attributes most symptoms of FM to this compression. His name for this is meningeal compression, which he uses interchangeably with Fibromyalgia.
I brought three of my support group members with me. As you can imagine, given my impression of Paul Whitcomb and his clinic, I approached this event with a healthy amount of skepticism. Adding to my skepticism was the information one of my resourceful members shared with me about Whitcomb. He is still under investigation by the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners. There is still a possibility that he may lose his license for charges of administering “excessive treatment” and making “sensational statements which are intended to deceive the public.” He has recently closed his practice in South Lake Tahoe and is traveling nationwide to teach his technique. The reason he gave during the presentation for this move is to eliminate the need for patients to travel to him.
The presentation Whitcomb gave was full of dramatizations: “Fibromyalgia patients are closest to prisoners of war.” “The Fibromyalgia patients who came to my clinic did not want to continue living.” “Eighteen percent of Fibromyalgia patients commit suicide.” I am really curious to know where he got that number, but unfortunately he did not allow for Q & A. He never once described Fibromyalgia patients as type A, as givers, or as overachievers, which in my experience is closer to the truth. Instead he painted a very bleak and desperate picture of us. Most of his claims were dramatic and over-the-top. He did not share anything about FM that I did not already know, but he did supply us with many statistics about his practice and the tremendous results he gets; such as 85% of his patients remain symptom free, only 6% lost the benefit of his correction and treatment after leaving his clinic. It makes me wonder why he would choose to close up shop.
As we moved on to the testing part of the workshop, we were all required to sign a waiver agreeing to let our test be recorded on video and used at their discretion. I refused, as did the other members of my group. I attended this workshop to research and share as much information as I could about Whitcomb’s technique. I would not agree to have my image shown in support of it and without my knowledge. Dr. J expressed our concern and they agreed to let him test us without being filmed.
I think because we were not being filmed, Whitcomb basically left Dr. J on his own, while paying closer attention to the chiropractors he trained and their patients who were being filmed. Also, Whitcomb unfairly sold Dr. J on training with him. He told Dr. J that “the test is the technique,” but then during the presentation he said just the opposite, because the chiros learning the technique also learned a particular adjustment that an acupuncturist like Dr. J is not legally qualified to perform. When I questioned Dr. J about this he said, “Yeah, I guess he kind of fooled me there.” So the “technique” that Dr. J paid to learn and implement into his practice is not complete. I really feel like Whitcomb snowballed Dr. J and any other non-chiro who paid to learn his technique.
And Now I Share Why I Have Been in a Flare
My first instinct was to not be tested, and I wish I had followed it. Instead I sat and watched many patients receive the technique and seemingly have instant improvements. One older gentleman with Parkinson’s had a noticeable reduction in his tremors. Another man was able to lift his arm above his head for the first time in months. I should note that we were not all fibromyalgia patients in the room, although the presentation was geared specifically to FM. After observing for some time, I was just too curious to opt out, so I hopped up on the table and let Dr. J proceed. After a short palpation he concluded I was sorest and tightest at the trigger points on the side of my neck below my ears. I concurred with this assessment.
He used metal rods with soft ends to place steady, firm pressure on my neck for five minutes. It did not take long for me to begin to feel nauseous. I tried to breath through it. Dr. J frequently check with me to see if I had a reduction in pain. I had rated my pain a 6 on the 1-10 scale, with 10 being worst. That day my neck, head, shoulders, upper back and hips were painful. I did not feel any change as I laid there. He asked me to focus on my hips. Laying still I felt no difference, but when I moved my hips, I eventually felt a reduction in pain. After the test, upon standing, my right hip was free from pain, and my left was improved. There was no improvement to my neck, head, shoulders or upper back.
I remained nauseous for sometime after the test. I had driven my members, and did not feel well enough to drive right away, so it gave us an opportunity to stay and talk about the workshop. The test had zero effect on two of my members, and two of us had a slight decrease in our symptoms. For one member the pressure was too painful to bear. Her pain level had been very low to start the day, and after her reaction to the test, Whitcomb remarked he wasn’t sure why she was even being tested if she had no pain. He told the second member who did not experience any relief that she was just being difficult. When I remarked to him that I did not experience any relief in my upper body he said I just needed to have the test performed longer. We all felt underwhelmed by the experience. It did nothing to change my opinion of him that his care for FM patients is motivated most heavily by his bottom line.
The proposed follow-up with Dr. J was to involve an initial consultation, and then three consecutive days of treatment, which would require three visits each day. After the three days of visits he would reevaluate and propose further treatment. It is expected to take weeks or months for complete healing, and then there is likely to be maintenance to assure the meningeal release holds. Given that I have been in a flare since receiving the test at the workshop, and that the improvement I felt in my hips lasted only an hour or two, I called Dr. J and told him I was not interested in pursuing this treatment. He then told me hed decided not to implement the technique into his practice, and that he too was underwhelmed by the experience. I have to say I think he made a very wise decision.
So there you have my experience and my opinion on the matter. I feel like a little guinea pig, but I am happy to have had this experience to share. When Whitcomb had his Web site up, there were a lot of testimonials of people who swear by his technique. One of my members who attended the workshop has personally spoken with several of his former patients who claim to be symptoms free. She was considering attending his clinic and did a tremendous amount of research. She was the most hopeful of us last Friday that his technique would benefit her, but unfortunately she was one of the two it did not.
If Whitcomb comes to your community to teach his technique, I cannot recommend that you attend his workshop, but as we all know, what works for one will not for the other. Even after this particularly bad flare, I still plan to keep an open mind about treatment options available and useful to us. But I most certainly will not be having my meninges released anytime soon!
NOTE: On Tuesday October 27, FibroHaven was moved from a WordPress domain to its own URL. In doing so the comments of each and every post have been affected. They are no longer chronological or nested (if they were a direct reply to a previous comment). It happened on each post, but because this particular post has been so active it is especially troublesome to try and follow the comments logically. I apologize for this confusion and we are trying to fix it, but it appears it may not be possible.
I can assure you no censoring or editing of comments has occurred. If you are interested and brave enough, feel free to read the comments and try to piece them together. I do warn you against taking things out of context as that has already happened. To avoid any more confusion, I am turning off comments on this post until the issue is resolved. If you have something you absolutely must say in response to this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.