2018 – The Best Year of Your Life Part 2

January 18, 2018 by

Health Focused vs. Symptom Focused

In the previous article, we talked about how healthy people lived by a different set of principles as unhealthy people. We also discussed that most people were not conscious of the principles with which they lived, making it both difficult to change faulty principles and apply successful principles in other areas of life.

This article will explore the first principle lived by the healthy minority of our society. That principle is to be health focused as opposed to symptom focused.

If you ask the average person what it means to be healthy, what will they say? In my experience the average person believes that they are healthy if they don’t have any diseases or symptoms. Essentially, if there is nothing ‘wrong,’ they are healthy.

How this belief shows up is that very little, to no focus is placed upon health outside of the treatment of disease and symptoms. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ is sometimes proudly stated by people with this belief.

One of the challenges with this approach is that the underlying process and pattern leading to symptoms and diseases (secondary conditions) can often be present and growing for some time (even years and decades) before we feel it or become diagnosed with it. Waiting for crisis can leave lots of damage to be undone. Not paying attention to your health until you have a heart attack means that even if you are fortunate enough to survive, there will be lots of work to do.

Another challenge is that when we focus on symptom treatment, we often miss what the symptoms are trying to tell us. If you treat a headache with a pill, maybe you are missing that you were just dehydrated and needed to drink some water. Or perhaps you were reacting to something you ate? The headache goes away, but the underlying problem goes unchecked.

Years ago, I was playing in the World Masters (old timers) Fastball Championship in Australia. We played 15 games in 8 days which was more than any of us were used to. Early in the week, the entire team was achy and sore. Many of my teammates were popping pills before and after games and dousing their arms and legs with liniments to numb their pain. On many occasions I was offered pills and potions but declined because my philosophy was that if my body was trying to tell me to NOT do something, I wanted to be able to feel it. Luckily, it never got to that point and I was able to play all the way through. What was interesting is that by the last couple of days I was feeling great while those who covered up their early symptoms were crashing and burning.

The final challenge with a symptom first approach is that sometimes the TREATMENT for the SYMPTOM actually harms our overall health. While this may be an acceptable trade off in cases of our life being in danger with a disease like cancer or life-threatening infection, is it really worth damaging your health because of some pain and discomfort? While doing so occasionally may not be a big deal, many people walk around with pain killers in their bags and purses in case a symptom should arise.


The healthy minority see things differently. These people live by the principle of being health focused, where symptoms and diseases are important messages that something is off – not ‘things’ to be eradicated. They see health more like the literal WHO definition: ‘…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

Because health is seen as something to be attained for its own sake, these people seek to create it in their lifestyle. They live, eat, exercise, and seek professionals to optimize function, have vitality, lots of energy, and feel great (not just not bad).

Unlike the symptom focused folks, in many ways this group gets healthier as they age, to go along with the wisdom they gain with experience – which is a beautiful thing to behold.



The cruel joke is that one of the outcomes of the health focused lifestyle is that they tend to have less pain and disease than the symptom focused group. Why? Because they are healthier.

Does this mean that they are bulletproof to pain and disease? Of course not – they are human. Does that mean that they never treat them? Nope, there is a time and place for these interventions. Those who live with the principle of being health focused use treatments to buy them some time while they make the lifestyle changes necessary.


The care provided at Nexus is consistent with the principle of being health focused. While it is true that most people seek out our care because the have secondary conditions that other approaches have not been able to help, we know that we must help the person WITH the condition to get healthier for it to no longer be a factor. We do this by addressing the underlying patterns creating the symptom. In doing so not only does the condition get handled, the person gets healthier as they progress through care.

It is for the same reason that many of our patients continue to see us AFTER their initial complaint is gone – to continue to protect and optimize their health.


So, look at your health and notice times that you have been symptom focused and times you have been health focused. How can you move yourself more towards the health focused side?

Now, look closely at the other areas of your life. Are there areas that you have been numbing the pain to avoid making a change? Have you ignored the health of your finances or career or relationships for the sake of comfort? How can you make a shift to improve the health of those parts of your life?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next health principle. If you missed the opening article of the series, you can find it HERE.

The 4 Ways of Healthcare – Part 1

February 7, 2017 by

Over the next several articles we will be exploring – in detail – the 4 Ways of Healthcare. Each Way has a different approach to how we treat our health, different outcomes or objectives, and different ways to measure success. Above all else, which Way we focus on will certainly determine how healthy we are – or are not.

We all spend at least some time using several of the Ways of healthcare, yet most of us do so unconsciously – unaware of exactly what we are doing and why. The unfortunate, yet all too common, impact of this lack of understanding and awareness is desiring one health related outcome and acting in a way that cannot produce it. This is not due to a lack of discipline or will power – it is due to an ineffective approach.

It is my experience and belief that the major cause of frustration with our own personal health, as well as the ‘healthcare system’ is this lack of understanding. We spend too much time, effort and resources on approaches that cannot create the result we desire.

The purpose of this series of articles is to help you to define PRECISELY what you want in regards to you and your family’s health and then to CONSCIOUSLY choose a Way to get there. Included in this will be some suggested practices and interventions in each of these ways.


Something very important to understand is that each of the  4 Ways are good and appropriate at specific times. Each is effective at producing its own result. I have seen some health ‘gurus’ promote one Way as the only way and I believe this to be folly.

Each has a time, each has a place. The key to great results is to apply the appropriate approach at the appropriate time. The only way to do this is to understand what you want and how to get it.


So without further delay, the 4 Ways of Healthcare are:


Symptom Treatment – This approach seeks relief from pain, symptoms, or crisis. I prefer the term secondary condition over pain or symptom because it more accurately reflects what is actually going on. Pain and symptoms don’t typically exist on their own – they are secondary to something more primary underlying the problem.

The Symptom Treatment Way of healthcare is considered successful if the immediate secondary condition is relieved – by any means possible. If a person with back pain or headache takes a narcotic and feels better, the treatment is deemed successful and we move on our way.

There are many treatments and practitioners who are very good at Symptom Treatment. This is NOT our focus at Nexus Chiropractic.

An easy to understand analogy is that of a lawn covered in dandelions (I kind of like dandelions but my neighbours do NOT). Using the first Way of healthcare we would simply chop the heads of the flowers off with a lawnmower and call it a day. Quick, easy, effective…..until?


The second Way of Healthcare goes a bit deeper than symptom treatment and Addresses the Primary Condition that may have led to the symptom. This is the baseline type of care we provide at Nexus and where most people start with us.

This Way of healthcare may monitor symptoms in the background but does not primarily use symptom relief as a measure of success.

Obviously this second Way of healthcare requires a bit more work than the first and absolutely requires baseline objective indicators (an examination beyond symptoms), a reasonable plan of correction (beyond symptom relief), and an objective follow up to determine whether the primary condition was handled.

To go back to our dandelion analogy, in this Way of healthcare, we have to get down on our hands and knees with a tool and start pulling weeds out by their roots. More work? Yes. More time? Yes. More sustainable and long lasting results? Absolutely.


The third Way of healthcare is Prevention/Adaptability. The focus here shifts away from fixing anything to preventing problems in the future. This includes tuning things up before they get turn into pain or disability as well as helping the body to be more adaptable to future stress and trauma.

At Nexus, people using this third Way of healthcare are what we call our protection patients. We have already done the work to normalize the primary condition and now do regular tune ups to keep things in tip top shape.

Going back to the dandelion story. Prevention may include pulling a few weeds from time to time or feeding the lawn special nutrients twice a year to prevent future dandelion overgrowth.


The fourth and final Way of healthcare is Optimization. Optimization goes beyond correction and prevention and focuses on making things better and more efficient over time. This Way is extremely rare in healthcare today.

The folks who use this Way of healthcare at Nexus are our optimization practice members – different from patients looking to treat or prevent something bad. These people desire continued improvement in spine and nervous system efficiency and evolving levels of health.

In our lawn analogy, the focus now turns on the health and beauty of not only the grass, but the entire grounds. Planning, time, and effort go into making the yard more functional and brilliant every season.


In the upcoming articles we will be digging deeper into each Way of Healthcare, the results they produce, and how you can choose which one is appropriate for you at any given time.



Different Doctors, Different Focus

March 11, 2012 by

and Focus determines Results


One of the most important determinants of success in any endeavour is focus. We tend to attract what we focus on and the more we focus, the more it grows. Our success requires focus. This is why it is important that the doctors, coaches, advisors and fiduciaries we work will possess a focus that is consistent with the results we are looking to achieve. When what WE want is very different from our doctor’s (or any other advisor) the outcome often leads to frustration, disappointment, and failure.


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a lecture to trainer Tom Irvine of Quest Personal Training Studio’s fitness class at St. Lawrence College. I have been speaking and demonstrating NSA for his classes for years. This time, I chose to speak less about what I do and more about the different approaches in chiropractic and what the differences were. After all, I did not want to turn a potential future chiropractor off of the profession if they were not personally interested in MY focus in practice.

With so many techniques and systems within chiropractic, the best way to break down our differences was where we place most of our focus. I defined 4 distinct groups:

1. Pain and symptom treatment focus. These chiropractors aim to ‘fix’ your pain and symptoms and do so as quickly as possible. Success is defined as the pain going away and treatment is focused on achieving that goal.

2. Pain and symptom prevention focus. These doctors feel that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so focus more on stopping problems before they happen. This may be in the form of regular ‘maintenance’ care and prescribed exercises. Success is a lower frequency of problems in the future. A doctor in this group may sacrifice the quick ‘fix’ of a symptom to ensure an injury more fully heals to prevent a future flare up.

3. Optimizing function focus. While pain and symptoms may be addressed, the focus is on getting your body functioning at its’ optimum. This may include optimal movement, immune system function, and in the chiropractor’s case definitely optimal nerve function. This doctor recognizes that pain and symptoms can be a part of a well functioning body so will not treat them at the expense of the whole. Often, these chiropractors are “subluxation-based” and recommend regular check-ups to ensure being in tip-top shape.

4. Evolving strategy focused. These doctors recognize that a living human is not a static entity and that there is an opportunity for everyone to develop new strategies for health and life. They know that once function is optimized, there is still another level to go. There is no ceiling to our potential for awareness, adaptability, resourcefulness, vitality, and happiness. The goal of these chiropractors is to help their practice members develop never-ending refinement. They also recognize that new physical strategies can impact our emotional, mental and spiritual lives. These doctors see pain and symptoms as a calling for more awareness and new strategies, not something to do battle with.


Of course, most chiropractors do not fit into only one of these categories. They do, however have one in which they place the most focus. One is not better than the other but they will definitely get different results. In my experience, when you start to take care of optimal function and evolving strategies, the symptoms often take care of themselves.

The great thing is that you get to choose which one fits best for you. A great way to find out what your doctor’s focus is to ask them what their highest vision for you in care. This also applies to any other coach or advisor you employ (a financial advisor focused on getting you out of bankruptcy will get very different results than one focussing on building your legacy for generations to come)!

Make sure your doctor’s focus is consistent with yours. What I look for in any coach is someone who is a little bit beyond me. Someone who will stretch me just beyond my comfort zone and makes sure I am learning something new. If you can identify your health focus above I would encourage you to choose a doctor 1 level past it.



“The more presence and congruence you possess, the less force is required in any endeavour”

–       Dr. Donny Epstein



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