This article is from the Long Beach Magazine
Giving Patients Their Lives Back
BY CINDY ARORA
Sometimes in the middle of a consultation, Dr. Roger Smith will see
certain look flash in the eyes of a new patient, a look somewhere between
hope and a tinge of "Is this guy for real?"
Smith, an upper cervical chiropractor, understands the cynicism because
he's seen it
often enough at his practice, Smith Upper Cervical Health Care. His patients typically
arrive at his office after years of being shuffled from
doctor to doctor, trying a variety of treatments or taking prescription pills for temporary
relief for conditions such as back pain, chronic headache,
allergies, sinus problems, numbness, and fibromyalgia. A lot of times, these conditions
can be difficult to treat and patients are frustrated and worried they will never feel 100 percent ever again.
Talking with Smith about what he does can sound like a magic trick, or as he says,
"selling snake oil." But Smith backs up what he's peddling: "I don't think we need pills, potions, or
lotions to be healthy. The thing with modern medicine is we all want to take a pill to make the
symptom go away …Drugs will shut the symptom down, but it's still there."
Smith is one of about 75 doctors worldwide who practices upper cervical care through the
Blair Chiropractic Technique. This procedure focuses on bringing the body into balance
by adjusting two specific vertebrae:
the atlas and the axis. When these two are misaligned, this can bring on a host
of problems from depression, indigestion, difficulty sleeping, swollen knees,
dizziness, among others, like high blood pressure. In fact, an eight week study
proved significant blood pressure reductions from this procedure as printed in
online issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension. The imbalance of these
vertebras can be triggered from birth (being pulled from the birth canal), a
car accident, or emotional stress, to name a few different causes. "People
aren't aware the upper cervical area is a nerve area that communicates to
the rest of the body," Smith says, "and when properly adjusted, can mean
a healthier life."
Take Edith Dworak, 72, who could barely move her left shoulder before
she met Smith. She was uncomfortable and in pain, but her doctors chalked
it up to arthritis, and she was told to learn to live with the discomfort. She
and her husband met Smith at an art show, and he invited them both
to come in for a consultation. Nearly four years later, Dworak-and her husband-lead
"I am no spring chicken, but now I eat right, exercise, go to the gym, and I even
lift weights," Dworak says with a laugh. "I am doing things now that I never
would have dreamed of doing."
Improving people's overall health and changing their lives are two of the reasons
Smith chose this specialty. Smith was 14 when his grandmother, who suffered from
allergies and fatigue, moved to the beach and was taken to an upper cervical chiropractor
in Huntington Beach. The experience of seeing his grandmother evolve from tired and
sickly to healthy and alive was enough to make him a believer. He now commutes from
his home in Long Beach to the same office where his grandmother was treated and works
with the doctor who became his mentor when he was a teenager.
"What we do here is actually improve people's health," Smith says. "But this is teamwork,
and you have to work hard, because you are in charge of your life and your health."
Treatment begins with neurological tests, heat-sensitive instrumentation, and x-rays of
the upper cervical area. Smith also works with patients on nutritional goals, exercise
plans, rest recommendations, positive thinking, and spirituality. John Bell, a dockworker
at the Long Beach Port, was 28 when he was referred to Smith . After years of migraine
headaches and popping sinus and allergy pills every day, he was looking for something new.
"The first time Dr. Smith adjusted me, I felt like something had been released inside of me,"
Bell says. "Now I surf, play volleyball … I truly feel like I got my life back.