Ricky's Riffs:

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


The War on Health Care

July 10th, 2019

Our health care system is in crisis. Everyone feels it. Premiums and deductibles keep rising, provider networks are narrowing, and the bite out of the average American paycheck gets bigger and bigger. Health care has taken center stage in the run-up to the 2020 election.

The Democrat arguments swing from elimination of the private health insurance industry and Medicare-For-All to a public option to buy into the Medicare system.  The Republicans have no plan, beyond destroying the ACA (Obamacare) and crying “socialism!”Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


Book Review: “Decisive Intuition” by Rick Snyder

May 21st, 2019

Condition is a health news and information website.  So why am I reviewing a book about business coaching?  Rick Snyder’s Decisive Intuition: Use Your Gut Instincts to Make Smart Business Decisions would seem to belong squarely in the business section of the bookstore. But this book is about much more than business.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 »


Book Review: “The United States Of Opioids” by Harry Nelson, JD

January 17th, 2019

There is a growing canon of work on the opioid epidemic. The best of these books include “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones, “Dopesick” by Beth Macy, and “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari. Each tells the story from a different angle.  Together, they describe the confluence of heroin, Oxycontin, and fentanyl, the complicity of Big Pharma, and the failed “war on drugs.”

There is a new book to add to the list: “The United States of Opioids,” by Harry Nelson, JD.  As a practicing health care attorney, Harry brings a legal eye—as well as a deep heart of compassion—to this very complex subject.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 »