How to Fix Your Body with Dr. Jeffrey Saffir: A New Approach to Chiropractic
Not all chiropractic is the same. That’s the message that Dr. Jeffrey Saffir, founder of the Pain Free Body in Poughkeepsie, NY, wants people to know. Through his many years of practice, as well as his own personal healing journey, he has seen which treatments work best, as well as which ones offer only temporary relief. As a result, he says, his approach is different from that of 99 percent of other chiropractic.
A New Approach to Chiropractic
A big difference is that Saffir corrects “front to back”—that is, with the patient standing or lying face up. Most chiropractic is done with “back-to-front” adjustments, with the patient lying face down.
Why the difference? Front-to-back adjustments work best over time, he says—even reversing extreme cases such as Dowager’s hump. That’s because the vertebrae can realign themselves in every direction but one: forward.
“The one position that a misaligned vertebra shifts that the body cannot ‘self-correct’ into position is a forward movement,” Saffir says.That's because there are no muscles along our backs behind the vertebrae that would be able to pull the vertebrae back into proper alignment. Muscles don’t push; they pull.”
Saffir believes that any doctor—whether an MD or a chiropractor—should focus solely on problems that the body can’t self-correct. The body is an amazing self-healing organism, he says, and so it’s best to allow it to correct things as much as possible, with a doctor doing only the adjustments the body can’t do on its own.
“When you push bones forward, you can make people feel better,” he says. “But when you treat a compensation you’re not fixing anything, and you are actually causing the body to be more unstable down the road, because now the body has to compensate for what the doctor just did.”
Unwinding Spinal Misalignment
Saffir works step by step to facilitate the natural “unwinding” of spinal misalignment, he says, which can begin in a variety of ways, from childhood injuries or car accidents to poorly designed beds or shoes. All these things can cause the vertebrae to shift out of position, and often the effect compounds for years after the initial discomfort is gone.
"We assume everything is fine once we feel better,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean that something didn’t change. It can be very subtle; we go about our business and our body compensates. We layer on top of layer, like an onion in the body, mechanical compensations for bones out of place. There is good and bad to this. The body has the ability to self-correct most spinal bone misalignments; it does that with muscles that pull the bones back into place.”
Saffir’s focus, then, is finding and treating structural abnormalities that the body can’t correct on its own. For example, strains, injuries and accidents can cause shifts in spinal structure, and if those shifts are outside the normal range, they can cause one or more secondary conditions or symptoms, such as back or neck pain, scoliosis, disc problems, headaches, dizziness or even sinus problems.
“Where you hurt is usually not where the problem is,” Saffir explains. “The spinal structure is most often the issue.”
That’s where Saffir’s front-to-back adjustments—or structural corrections—come in. Through the structural correction process, he can detect spinal bones that are stuck forward and correct them mainly while the patient is standing up against a pad on the wall. For any table adjustments, the patient is face up.
“By treating the body this way, I peel away the accumulated layers of compensations that have developed over the years,” he says. “By doing this ‘unwinding,’ I relieve pressure on the discs, thus relieving, improving or correcting the causes of any secondary conditions or symptoms.”
Help for AHS
Through this approach, Saffir has successfully treated many patients with Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS), a condition where the head is shifted forward beyond what’s considered acceptable.
Left untreated, the condition creates a continuous strain on the muscles, tendons and ligaments, which can result in compressed and degenerated discs, muscle tension and spasms, nerve impingement syndrome or Dowager’s hump. Unfortunately, many of the conventional treatments for AHS can be unsatisfactory or unnecessarily invasive, he says.
“More often than not, most people opt for prescription medication such as pain pills, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories,” he says. “If those don’t work out, they may try physical therapy, injections and in many cases, when those other treatments don’t work out, surgery. My goal is to educate my patients about their choices so they can make the best decision for themselves.”
Doctor as Teacher
Patient education is a big part of Saffir’s practice. (He’s quick to point out that the word doctor comes from the Latin word meaning “teacher.”) For example, he teaches his patients proper mechanics for everyday life. “I help them with sitting, standing and sleeping correctly too,” he says. “It’s not a question of exercise, because it’s not a muscle problem.”
To that end, he’s created sitting, standing and sleeping seminars on YouTube that anyone can view by searching “Jeff Saffir.” He also offers free in-person consultations, often spending as long as an hour with prospective patients. “I tell them, ‘Come on in and we’ll go over things,’” he says.
Saffir says his investment in time is rewarded every time one of his patients gains relief from chronic symptoms or the pleasure of enhanced energy and mobility. Saffir has a number of patients in their 80s who are doing things that they haven’t done in 15 years, things they never expected to do again. "As long as there is life, there is hope,” he says.
Jeffrey Saffir, DC, practices at the Pain Free Body, 205 South Ave., Ste. 10, Poughkeepsie, NY. For appointments and info, call 845.489.6020 or visit PainFreeBody.com.