This chiropractor has found success by combining traditional philosophical principles with modern technology.
By Chiropractic Economics staff
“Nobody comes to me when they first get cancer,” says Patrick Flynn, DC, “they come to me as a last resort. They’ve been struggling for years.”
In an earlier issue of Chiropractic Economics (No. 4, Vol. 58), we looked at the practice of Flynn, owner of The Wellness Way, a holistic health clinic in Green Bay, Wis. Intrigued by what we heard, we decided to follow up with him and learn more about what he’s doing to achieve success and growth.
Flynn says that he doesn’t want to be known as having a nutrition-based practice. “I’m a chiropractor,” he asserts. “It’s the greatest profession in the world.” But when Flynn says that, he’s referring to a particular kind of chiropractic.
“When I started [practicing] 13 years ago, I got off to a great start. I grew very quickly teaching the chiropractic philosophy. I built my practice to 800 patients a week,” Flynn says. At this time he was mainly performing adjustments, and it began to increasingly bother him that so many of his patients were taking medication for their various ailments.
Being a Palmer College of Chiropractic graduate, he was well- grounded in traditional chiropractic theory. Yet, he started to notice that what he was reading about chiropractic in the Palmers’ Green Books seemed to describe more than what he was currently doing in practice.
“I’d got the trauma part down,” Flynn says. “Just like many other DCs who are subluxation based, I was treating the spine, but what about toxicity and stress?”
Flynn started looking at a larger picture of holistic health. “If you’re just adjusting people, you aren’t addressing philosophy, science, and art. But these are three legs of a stool.”
When he realized that his practice needed to address the other two facets of chiropractic care, he began reevaluating his own philosophy and started to explore a deeper level of integrating classic theory. His first step was to start attending seminars offered by the prominent nutrition companies, and studying their courses and literature. And he started to train in naturopathy.
At this point Flynn made a discovery: Nutrition and supplementation, if offered prescriptively, is tantamount to allopathic pharmaceuticals — it doesn’t necessarily address the presenting problem.
“In some cases, it was as if they were advising ‘If you have diabetes, take this, if you have stress take that.’ But our goal is to restore wellness and treat the causes, not symptoms,” Flynn says. He was still looking to get back to addressing the trio of trauma, toxins, and thought.
“If people are living unhealthy lifestyles, chiropractic can’t help. Not when people are destroying their bodies,” he says.
The missing component, he came to understand, was testing. Of course, general chiropractors do perform tests, like X-rays, MRIs, and SEMGs. The question was to determine which tests might close the loop by revealing disorders involving toxicity and stress.
“I started calling testing companies to find out what kind of tests they offered. In fact,” Flynn says, “in some of B.J.’s [Palmer] writings they later found from his research clinic, he actually was doing a lot of diagnostic testing and running blood tests on patients.” Today Flynn’s practice is based on traditional philosophy, but it also takes advantage of modern technology.
For example: “If a person comes to us with a major GI issue, we might do a stool sample, or order a liver function test, a CGG test,” Flynn explains. “Their health history might show chronic disease or a mental health issue. You can always tell what your office is doing by looking at the kind of patients who are coming to you.”
In changing the way his practice dealt with patients, Flynn began applying a more scientifically informed style of chiropractic. For example: He might see a woman who is experiencing a hormone-imbalance issue. He would use diagnostics and laboratory blood-work to ascertain the nature of the presenting problem.
“Let’s say the progesterone is low,” Flynn says. “Well, it didn’t happen by itself. Something was draining the hormone from her system. Is cortisol the problem due to stress, or from a bad diet or lifestyle problem?” He might then teach her stress management techniques and suggest dietary adjustments, and start taking steps to address her progesterone levels from a correctional perspective.
Cancer patients may be the most challenging that Flynn sees. “When people understand the severity of their treatments, they are scared. And I work with oncologists, and they know that cancer is largely an immune system disorder.”
Ultimately, Flynn will want to know what he can do to help the patient’s body treat itself.
“When a person has an immune deficiency, we can measure their blood markers for immune function. If the immune system doesn’t function, we’ll see that in their CD4, CD8 levels.” In other words, patients can get treatment, but their cancer may come back.
MDs who send patients to Flynn are often referring their patients who are having recurring tumors. They want to know what to do to get the patient back to full function. Flynn will then approach the problem in terms of “trauma, toxicity, and thought.”
By employing a functional testing questionnaire, Flynn looks for functional changes in physiology to see if something is off. If an organ or a system is being disrupted, he can start to focus in on that. Is it a liver, gall bladder or GI issue? The patient report and history, in addition to any needed testing, gives him guidance to determine the likely cause of the pathology.
For DCs looking to move toward this type of practice model, Flynn suggests starting with testing protocols and learning to interpret lab results. There are resources available from testing companies to help you get started.
“While people are waiting for their labs, you can adjust them,” Flynn adds. “Then offer them some lifestyle changes, and later inform your treatment with the lab results.”
As Flynn points out, one place where all doctors can meet is with lab work. It’s the objective evidence that helps convince the patient and you can objectify the treatment you provide.
“It’s a chiropractic philosophy individualized for each patient,” Flynn says. “We don’t guess — we test.”
Currently, he wants to get more into teaching other doctors how to best care for their patients. “Docs what to help people, make a good living, and have time with their families,” Flynn says. “If I can teach them to do well in an efficient office, then I’m helping to promote the chiropractic lifestyle.”