Ricky's Riffs:

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


The Insurance Game

June 15th, 2013

A few weeks ago, a patient gleefully told me that he had gotten excellent new health insurance through his employer. The coverage included more chiropractic visits than his previous insurance plan, yet his co-pay was still minimal.

It was difficult for me to share his excitement—especially since I knew what he would tell me next. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Symptoms Matter….And Why They Don’t

October 22nd, 2012

You’ve been at the computer for six hours and feel that familiar tug.  From your upper back, spreading slowly to your neck and grabbing the base of your skull, stiffness turns to pain and the dull ache turns sharp.  Your movement becomes restricted.  Unable to turn your head, you tell yourself that it is time to see your chiropractor.  You remember that it has been a year since you saw him last.Read the rest of this entry »


Levels of Healing, Part One: Physico-Chemical Dimensions

September 15th, 2012

Most people come to see me because they have pain: neck pain, lower back pain, head pain. And they want relief.

I first take a history. How long have they had the complaint? What makes the pain worse?  What relieves it? Have they had any car accidents or sports injuries?  What kind of work do they do?  Do they exercise? And so on.Read the rest of this entry »


Travel, Fear, and Misperception: Burma as Destination and Metaphor

April 13th, 2011

I first traveled to Burma in 1996, co-leading an educational tour with a group of eighteen students from New College of California.  Burma had just opened to the west after thirty years and Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected president, who had been under house arrest by the military regime since her election in 1988, had just been released.Read the rest of this entry »


Norm and Normal: The Social Construction of Health

February 16th, 2011

You go for your yearly medical check up. The doctor listens to your heart and feels your pulse.  Your blood is drawn and your blood pressure is taken. Looking at the sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff), she reports a number: 120/80.  “Perfect”, she says and when your lab results come in showing all of your serum levels falling within the normal range, you are declared healthy and told to return in a year for another evaluation.Read the rest of this entry »


Rock and Roll Ergonomics, Part Two: Low Back Protection

August 2nd, 2010

It’s the second set of the night.  The Les Paul strung over your shoulders pours out hard and soulful sounds through the Mesa Boogie Mark IV (78 pound, 85 tube watt) combo amp. As you reach for that perfect note, bent over in trance, you feel a twinge in your lower back, then a sharp stab deep in your spine, and the life is suddenly sucked out of that singing lead.  Coming down from the clouds, mind and body are re-connected, your body telling your mind to stop doing what it is doing.  And you think about loading the amp into the car after the gig.Read the rest of this entry »