Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


Sit/Stand Desks: A Review And Critique

June 4th, 2019

Both my patients and non-patients ask me about sit/stand desks.  They are all the rage. Many of the workplaces I visit are open-plan and stocked with various versions of these up/down desks, which enable computer workers and others who rely on monitors to change positions throughout the day.

The popularity of the sit/stand desk has given rise to a burgeoning market. There are lots of choices at a variety of price points. There are several things that determine the best choice for an individual or a company: They include space, look, ease of use and budget. I’d like to describe the pros and cons of some of the top models in the marketplace.Read the rest of this entry »


In Guatemala with the Integrative Health Project

April 2nd, 2019

I just returned from a week in Guatemala, where I worked with the Integrative Health Project.  The project was started by a few acupuncturists about eight years ago.  They wanted to work with the underserved, indigenous population living around Lake Atitlan, a beautiful, fertile and impoverished region in the Guatemalan highlands.Read the rest of this entry »


Pain, the Opioid Crisis, and Alternative Care

November 19th, 2018

Drug overdoses killed approximately 72,000 people in in the United States in 2017. This was an increase of 10% from 2016. The two reasons cited are (1) Americans continue to use opioids in increasing numbers, and (2) there are more powerful, deadlier, synthetic opioids available in the underground marketplace—mainly fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine.  While the latter is the primary cause of fatalities, there is a connection between the two explanations.

It is established that of those who die of opioid overdoses, 80% started their use/abuse of these drugs with a prescription for pharmaceutical painkillers: for football injuries, work injuries, post-surgical pain, dental issues. Too many medical doctors prescribe these drugs routinely.Read the rest of this entry »


On Low Back Support Belts

January 25th, 2018

I just returned from a relaxing week-long vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  The ocean was beautiful, the sunsets magnificent, and the tequila sweet, strong and flowing.

My wife and I stayed at a large resort, supported by lots of local workers: gardeners, maids, cooks, waiters, maintenance people, and many others.

As a chiropractor, I could not help but notice that many of the workers were wearing lumbar (lower back) support belts.  These are the cloth and Velcro braces that can be wrapped tightly around one’s waist.  The reason workers use these is to prevent low back injury, which is the most common work injury.

So, is it a good idea to wear them?Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome to “Condition: Health News That Matters”

December 11th, 2017

For quite some time, I have been thinking about writing a book.  I believe I have a unique perspective on health and healing and that this perspective might be interesting and useful to others.  After all, I’ve been in practice for more than 30 years.  I’ve taught undergrad and graduate level coursework in the history and philosophy of science, as well as complementary and integrative medicine.  I’ve worked as a chiropractor in private practice, public health, and occupational (worker compensation) medical settings.  My experience has been broad and deep in the field of integrative health.  And I definitely have a point of view!

But the more I thought about my book, the more pause I took.  My friends have written books.  Some are established authors with reputable publishers, and are paid in advance for their work.  But most are people who—like me— want to write to express something they have been carrying within themselves; to articulate their unique perspective. Many in the latter group may spend years on the project, self-publish their work, and, at the end of this long process, have 20 or 30 of their friends and relatives buy the book.  The rest may go into storage, or be given away.  (Of course, there’s always the possibility that the book might become a great bestseller, and one might join the ranks Dr. Oz or Deepak Chopra. But there’s an even better possibility that those books will stay on the shelf.)Read the rest of this entry »


The HAG Capisco: Best Chair in the World?

August 28th, 2017

Growing up, I remember my parents sitting in front of the television set in their big faux leather Lazy Boy recliners.  They would lean back and the foot supports would rise as they sank into their chairs dreamy soft cushiness.  Usually, after about twenty minutes, they would be asleep and when they finally trudged off to bed, it would usually be with aching backs.  Another chair related “injury!”Read the rest of this entry »


Pain and Suffering of the Digital Natives

October 25th, 2016

“Digital natives” are those young women and men who have been raised from childhood on computers. We see them everywhere:  Toddlers in strollers playing with iPhones, pre-teens on iPads in restaurants, strategically distracted to allow their parents to eat in peace; Junior High and High School kids doing schoolwork on laptops in the classroom or at home, sitting or lying in bed.

For the digital native, the computer is an extension of his or her body.  By the time they enter pre-school, many can navigate apps.  Ten-year olds can program software. Adolescents live their social lives on tiny screens.  Most of the digital native’s life runs through this digital medium.

Read the rest of this entry »


A World of Pain

June 30th, 2016

In our highly medicated society, Americans consume more mind and mood altering drugs—legal, illegal and prescribed–than any other people in the world.  Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Xanax, Ambien, Atavan, alcohol and many more: a full spectrum of pain, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and stimulating medications.

We all know people affected by the overuse of these substances. Some of us know people who have died from them.

But why are we in so much pain?  So depressed?  Why can’t we sleep? Or focus?Read the rest of this entry »


Revolution or Incrementalism: The Battle Over American Health Care

May 14th, 2016

As a health care provider, I have followed his year’s democratic presidential race with great interest. One major policy difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is that Bernie is pushing for a single payer model and Hillary wants to “build” on the Affordable Care Act that was passed under President Obama.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject.Read the rest of this entry »


A New Year, A New You: Some Perspectives on Integrative Health and Healing

December 7th, 2015

Co-written with Allie Stark, MA, RYT

In the world of wellness, the New Year is a business opportunity. The health industry can’t help but take advantage of the many people looking for salves, supplements, and “booty busting” exercises to make you, the best new you. And while eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and de-cluttering your house are certainly of value, they can also be distractions; one-off actions focused on symptoms rather than deeper forces at play.

Rather than seeing our health concerns accurately–as linked to our own mind/bodies and the world around us–we often tend to look beyond ourselves for explanations and solutions. It is important for us to understand why we see the world in the ways that we do. Otherwise we will seek answers that are of limited scope and value.Read the rest of this entry »