Dr. Anthony Saechao is a kind, courteous, and enthusiastic care provider. Anthony attended Cal State University Sonoma where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. During his studies, he developed a fascination with the proper function of the human body, especially as it relates to movement. Noticing this passion, a fellow student encouraged Anthony to become a doctor of chiropractic.
Anthony started his postgraduate education at Life Chiropractic College West. There he discovered the body’s amazing ability to heal when the nervous system functions properly. He also learned that interference between the nervous system and the body can cause a host of maladies but that through chiropractic adjustments proper function and thus proper communication is restored.
To help make ends meet during chiropractic school, Anthony worked as a personal trainer. As a fit and dedicated individual, working towards a professional degree that focuses on human movement, it was a natural fit. As a personal trainer, he focused on helping individuals with proper kinematic exercises and educating them on the importance of self-care.
Dr. Saechao graduated from chiropractic college in 2017. Since then he has dedicated himself to the art of the adjustment and in serving others. Dr. Saechao’s mission is to help as many people as possible function as best they can using regular chiropractic care while also encouraging patients to develop healthy habits in exercise and diet on their own.
When not working at the office, you can find Dr. Saechao taking care of himself at the gym, studying the principles of chiropractic, or spending time with his siblings. He is fluent in both English and Mienh and always strives to communicate his message on how to achieve better health.
I have stayed away from the topic of vaccinations in my practice because it is very emotional for both sides of the argument and it is not necessarily relevant to what I do as a chiropractor. However, this is more about freedom and healthcare and I am finally ready to share my thoughts. I know some of you will disagree on different points. To that, I say, great! Science is all about looking at an issue from several angles and sharing perspectives. Science does not own truth nor does it ever espouse it. Science seeks to hypothesize, observe under certain conditions, and theorize. That saying, I am very concerned with any side of an argument that claims to use science to hammer their agenda to the point of a mandate.
State Senator Richard Pan, who was a practicing pediatrician turned politic, has been working very hard to make vaccinations mandatory. I am sure he has his reasons and some of them may be pure but it also seems like he is being supported by those who stand to make a lot of money from the sale of these vaccinations. He started out a few years ago by passing a bill which made it illegal for parents to sign a vaccine waiver on grounds of religious or moral opposition which forced parents who are concerned about the damage a vaccine may cause to their child to get a waiver signed by a medical doctor. Now he is going after the medical doctors who signed those waivers and looking to establish a panel to overturn their opinions and make it harder, if not impossible, to get a waiver.
A few years ago, Senator Pan paraded several medical doctors who testified that they would sign waivers if they felt it was warranted. Apparently, that was a charade to pass that bill because now he does not want any individual doctor to have that kind of authority. Let’s be very clear, he is not interested in your research, your opinion, your morals, or your beliefs. Right now he is seeking to make it mandatory for all children who attend a public school to be vaccinated unless his handpicked panel decides otherwise. This is not about science, it is about control derived from money and power.
The argument for mandatory vaccines and the talking points behind them have spiraled to fear mongering. They use the theory of herd immunity as the basis of their argument. Herd immunity is the theory that if a high percentage of people are immune to a disease, presumably through vaccination, then the disease can be contained. It is not a terrible theory but there are holes in it. They also claim they need herd immunity to protect the children who cannot be vaccinated. They claim that we are putting these children at risk. Interestingly enough though, they make it sound as if unvaccinated individuals are the ones spreading the disease. This thought has been pervasive enough for the mayor or New York City to pass a decree that the unvaccinated are not allowed in the city or they will be fined.
To these points, I beg for a more scientific approach or just plain and simple logic. It is not an unvaccinated person who spreads disease but a person who has the disease. You cannot share something you don’t have or have never had. In fact, vaccinated children are 100% more likely to spread a disease they are vaccinated for than unvaccinated children. Within two weeks of being vaccinated for measles or chicken pox, there is a shedding period where the person can be contagious. It is rare but possible. Whereas, it is still impossible for an unvaccinated person without the disease to spread it. Besides, if you have so much faith that vaccines work, why should you be worried if you and/or your kids are vaccinated? Finally, if you are worried about the children who are unvaccinated getting the disease, I can understand the concern from your perspective but are you willing to claim that your concern is greater than the parents’? Herein lies the debate. Do you have the right to act on your differing opinion on a child who is not yours?
Those who claim the moral high ground in favor of forced vaccinations are missing the greater points of liberty and the slippery slope that can lead to the loss of all freedom. I firmly believe that almost everyone should get adjusted on a regular basis and that society would benefit from it. Would you be comfortable with me pushing to pass a law that forced you to get your children adjusted regardless of your opinion about chiropractic? What if I was reasonable at first and just said they needed a couple of adjustments? What if later I told you they needed more? What if I said, at first, that you could get a waiver if your chiropractor (and only a chiropractor) said your bones were too brittle or you have joint laxity or some other condition that might cause harm, only to then tell you that your chiropractor is not qualified to make that decision and we need to have a panel of experts whom I choose to make that for them? At first blush, this is ridiculous, yet, we are at this point right now with our rights to choose the care we feel best for our children as the stakes.
If forced vaccinations for children going to school passes, what is next? Will this smarter-than-you panel of medical doctors then decide that adults must be vaccinated? Will they decide that you have no options? Will we start fining people as they have threatened in New York City? Does this sound like a conspiracy? It is! But unlike the people who are trying to convince you that the earth is flat, this conspiracy has a lot of money and power to back it up.
Again, my point is not whether you should or should not vaccinate your children. For what it is worth, my opinion is that vaccination started out as a pretty good idea. It was a risk vs. risk scenario. Introduce a little of a disease, let the immune system work its magic and create a great chance at immunity. The risk on both sides is always real. We have taken it too far, though. The pro-vaccine side seeks to dismiss any risk that the diseases, let alone the rest of the chemicals in the cocktail, pose any risk. Yes, those risks seem to be small but they are real. For some people, the risks are not only real but imminent. For those opposed to vaccines, they tend to inflate the risks. Most people who are vaccinated are not going to have a severe reaction. For those that have had severe reactions, however, it can be absolutely devastating.
I get that having the measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, chickenpox, shingles, polio, etc. can be very bad and even life-threatening. Step back from the fear and consider that the chance of infection is still very small in the United States and the risk of death is almost statistically completely improbable. Now, one can argue that it is because of the vaccines that these diseases are almost non-existent. That is a reasonable assumption but I can counter that disease comes and goes regardless. I had chicken pox as a kid. Almost everyone I know did. It wasn’t fun but it wasn’t deadly. Now, I am immune. If I keep my immune system in good shape, I will never get it, or shingles, again. No vaccine needed. Chickenpox was super rare when they came out with the vaccination. Since then, shingles and chickenpox (the same virus) have been on the rise. Maybe it is a coincidence but I reserve the right to scientifically observe to think otherwise. Observation takes time, by the way. It is OK to wait and test. There is no crisis. Furthermore, are you comfortable giving your infant a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease like HPV or hepatitis because they may choose to be promiscuous when they are teenagers? I’m not. I would rather teach them the consequences of such actions and encourage proper behavior.
The argument as to whether you should or should not vaccinate your children based on the risks on both sides of the argument is a very personal decision and should be considered with much research. Unfortunately, the research is very thin. When, how much, and what kinds of vaccines a child needs, has changed with time not based on research but on theory. Either way, your right to do so or not should be unalienable. Forced vaccination raises the same ethical arguments of the Nuremberg Trials. I am far less concerned about the possibility of more disease or more injuries. Those will cycle. If you do your best to stay healthy, your risk for either is very low. I am much more concerned about the loss of freedom. What happens when you disagree with your doctor about a procedure for you or your child in the future? Will you be forced to do the procedure anyway? Will your child be taken from you? It sounds crazy but please consider that control is always the end game even if it sold for benevolent reasons.
The Autonomic Nervous System has two major components, the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic. As the name implies, these systems work without thought. The Parasympathetic Nervous System controls digestion, reproduction, waste elimination, and rest. The Sympathetic Nervous System controls activity, stress, and adrenaline. The quick way to remember is that the Parasympathetic is rest and digest and the Sympathetic is fight or flight.
The two components work opposite of each other. When one is running the other defers. I like to compare it to kids on a see-saw. When one is up the other is down. When you have two relatively equal sized kids, the see-saw works well, same as a good balance in the Autonomic Nervous System. Problems arise with imbalance.
When a person has dysfunction in the spine it tends to increase Sympathetic flow. All of a sudden, we have a big kid vs. a small kid on the see-saw. With increased Sympathetic flow, the body stays in a state of agitation at the detriment to rest and digestion. This can lead to a multitude of conditions and symptoms.
Chiropractic adjustments help to restore function which helps to balance the Autonomic Nervous System. In this way, Chiropractic can help with conditions that are not musculoskeletal in nature. Chiropractors often get a bad rap for claiming to work on things like heartburn, indigestion, sleep, constipation, heart palpitations, vision issues, and the list goes on. The truth is that many of these conditions arise because of an imbalance to the Autonomic Nervous System. So, when your chiropractor asks, tell him about all of your symptoms and conditions.
I have observed over the years that when patients are in chronic pain for a long time and seek help repeatedly from their medical provider, eventually, they will be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Providers often diagnose patients with fibromyalgia as a way to encourage the patient to stop seeking care. The reality is that most of the time the provider does not have an adequate answer as to why a person has pain nor do they have any way to help. They label it, generically, as fibromyalgia. I empathize with these patients and their providers.
Fibromyalgia, one can argue, is not really a diagnosis but a description of symptoms. Etymologically, it means pain in the fibrous and muscle tissues. Most providers act like there is no real cause. Many providers assume the patient is either a symptom magnifier seeking drugs or just emotionally unstable. In my experience, more often than not, the real issue is chronic pain and can be traced back to a source with enough work. Finding the right professional to diagnose and then to treat can be daunting, however.
The causes and treatments for chronic pain are vast. Hope can be easy to sell but is often difficult to deliver. Possible causes can be osteoarthritis (wear and tear due to time or injury), auto-immune arthritis, chronic subluxations or joint dysfunction, poor posture, stress, muscle knots, referred pain from internal organs, hormone imbalances, etc., or a combination of all of the above. When I treat someone with chronic pain, I am not always successful. Sometimes, when I am successful, it may not be long-lasting. Most people I can ease some of their discomforts, at worst, or help them heal altogether. Patience and paying attention to subtle changes is the key to figuring out what is causing the pain.
It can be daunting to figure out a path to improvement. Chiropractic is a great place to start. If improving joint function and nerve flow helps, then keep going. If the help is only very temporary, like less than a couple of days of relief after months of care, then you may need to add massage or some other muscle or fascia work. After that, you will need to explore various internal issues. I would refer you to a good Naturopath or Functional Medical Specialist. Now you have to consider internal organ dysfunction. Gut issues are the most common. In addition, assessing hormone function is very important. Finally, do not rule out the psycho-somatic component. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can make it so that healed physical pain lingers. The pain is no less real but one must manage their emotional issues before complete recovery is achieved. Temporal care along the way is still beneficial.
If you are suffering from chronic pain or have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, don’t be afraid to try a host of treatments. Start conservatively and work from there. Be wary of embellished claims of immediate or permanent relief but, also, don’t lose hope. At the very least, I am positive there is someone who can help you manage your pain.
Life tends to be really hard on the discs between the vertebrae in our spines. Discs are made of a flexible cartilage with a thick fluid and a hard nucleus in the middle. Discs are designed to improve motion and provide shock absorption which makes them the most abused structure in the spine. When we bend forward, the disc bulges backward. This can cause weakness due to wear and tear on the inner posterior aspect of the disc. Likewise, placing too much strain on the top can make the disc bulge all the way around. This is seen when someone is overweight, does a lot of high impact exercises, or loads the body with too much weight like with squats.
Each time a disc bulges farther beyond its normal borders, micro-tearing occurs. Tears heal with scar tissue which is, by its nature, not as pliable and can tear again. It is possible to train scar tissue into flexibility and help it act like regular disc tissue but it takes time and training. Too often the more rigid scar tissue will tear and recreate the original problem. This is where traction or decompression comes in.
I may offend some docs who are big into decompression therapy but to me, it and traction are the same thing. I think they started using the fancier word “decompression” because they developed more sophisticated and expensive equipment and needed a word to match. I must confess, though, as a linguist, decompression does portray a clearer and more concise picture of what we are hoping to accomplish. But, I digress. With decompression or traction (and from here I will use the words interchangeably) the goal is to take away pressure from the disc. When pressure on the disc is lessened, the disc can reshape and heal.
Traction can be accomplished in a number of ways. The method I am asked about most is about home-unit to hang upside down. In this case, one straps their ankles into a clamp and then leans backward to a specified angle. Some units will allow a person to hang completely upside down. I recommend 45 degrees to start. That is usually enough to open the disc space without getting a head rush that will shorten the traction time.
There is a host of other traction devices. Most of them can be found on late night infomercials. All of have some legitimacy but some are definitely better than others. The one I have seen a lot recently has the person lying down with their heels resting on a moveable piece that pulls and moves the legs side to side. I am not sure how much traction is occurring but movement is always good. One of the better ones I have seen in the past looks like a big cushy loop that hangs in a doorway. The person is situated so that their upper back is on the ground and their pelvis and legs are parallel with the doorway. Again, the end result is the same and usually positive.
Some providers have very nice decompression machines that are extremely effective in separating the vertebrae thus decompressing the disc. With severe disc bulges and herniations, these machines can be lifesavers. The only downside is the expense which can be significant. In our office, we have available a more hands-on form of traction called flexion-distraction. The table we use flexes at the lumbar level and is spring loaded. The doctor puts one hand on the spine holding a specific level in place and uses the opposite hand to push the table down. The spine separates then accommodates as the spring pushes the table back up. If the chiropractor knows what they are doing, this a very effective form of traction and can make a big difference in the disc.
All of the forms of traction that I mentioned above address the low back. There are, however, various units for the neck, as well. There are three main types of cervical traction. One way uses a harness around the chin and base of the skull attached to a rope and pulley. These units either have a counter-weight, usually a water bag, or a tension spring. The other devices look like a collar between the shoulders and the chin/skull that expand when pumped full of air. Both are effective and mostly utilized at home. The third combines traction with an attempt to restore curvature. This unit is a wedge whereupon a person lies with their head hanging over the tall side of the wedge. Often times there is an elastic strap or a weight that pulls down from the forehead.
Whatever method you choose or whichever method is the most effective for you, the key to success, as with most things, is to apply it consistently over a significant length of time. I have a cervical traction unit that I use when my neck is hurting and I routinely have Dr. Wagnon adjust me on the flexion-distraction table. Discs, just like people, sometimes just need a break from the pressures of everyday life, traction or decompression is a great way to accomplish this.
Recently, I had a patient ask me if I ever got stressed out about trying to put all of the Humpty Dumptys back together again. I joked that I am not all the king’s horses and all the king’s men so it is not my job to put Humpty Dumpty together again. This exchange brings up an interesting point, though. Several times a day people ask me to fix them. I understand what they want and I always do my best to help them, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I am thinking that their expectations are misfocused.
My job is to adjust the joints of the body. In doing so, the nervous system is stimulated which allows the body to communicate better. Better communication leads to better function. Better function leads to proper healing. Contrast helping the body function better with fixing something and you can appreciate why I am reluctant to claim that I fix or heal anything.
Bear with me while my BA in Linguistics drives the bus for a little while. If you take a very literal definition of the word fix, it means to “fasten [something] securely in a particular place or position.” That is the opposite of what I want to do. My aim is to help joints move. Likewise, it would be the height of hubris to think that I heal people. The body heals itself. Again, my job is to help the body function better so that it can heal properly and, hopefully, quicker.
Finally, giving me the burden of “fixing” someone is an impossible task no matter how willing the participants. That is like asking your exercise equipment to get you in shape. Sure the end goal is for you to get in shape but the responsibility is on you not on the equipment. Focus on improving function and not on getting fixed and you will find that not only are your expectations in line with your goals but that your care will also be much more effective and productive.
Full confession, I really do not like the word diagnosis. It is a little too limited, definitive, and stodgy for my tastes. I believe that we would be better served just identifying dysfunctional body parts than knowing fancy words that typically just describe symptoms. That saying, understanding symptoms and how they relate to dysfunctional body parts is extremely beneficial when coming up with treatment options. Understanding anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology can make diagnosing musculoskeletal injuries so easy it is a wonder why most doctors get it wrong most of the time.
It is important to understand the location and type of symptoms to make a proper diagnosis. Location of symptoms does not necessarily indicate the location of dysfunction. Many dysfunctional body parts refer symptoms to other parts of the body. Luckily, there are patterns which come is handy for those clever enough to recognize those patterns. The type of symptoms tell a good doctor what kind of structure is dysfunctional.
Embryologically speaking, there are three types of structures: bone, consisting of bones, joints, ligaments, discs, and cartilage; muscle, consisting of muscles, tendons, and organs; and nerve, which encompasses tissues of the brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, autonomic nerves, nerve roots, and peripheral nerves. Bone symptoms are typically described as a deep dull ache and can refer to other bone-like structures. Muscle is also an ache but feels more like fatigue and soreness. Muscle is more superficial and usually stays within the same structure. Nerve symptoms are more electrical in nature; numbness and tingling, just numbness, burning, shooting, etc. Nerves stay in the network of nerves. Knowing this will get you pretty far.
Consultation is the first step. I ask for the location and have the patient describe the symptoms. I also look for the mechanism of injury knowing that some structures are more likely to fail, depending on the stress placed on them, than others. With a good consultation, I have a fairly solid idea of what the problem is.
The second step is to do an exam. Bone structures cannot move themselves. For these tests, I do the movement on the patient checking for instability, pain, and altered movement. When I isolate joint movements, I can narrow down the location of dysfunction. Instability tests will suggest ligament issues (assuming we are not dumb enough to do a stability test on a complete fracture). X-ray is helpful to see fractures and degenerative changes. MRI is helpful to see disc bulges, ligament tears, and pathology. Repetitive movement works great for determining how to reform a bulged disc.
Muscles and tendons move bones. To test a muscle or tendon, resisting the muscle’s movement is an easy way to determine which muscle is injured. Why most doctors do not do this is baffling. Pain with resistance at the end of the muscle is usually tendon related and anywhere else is usually the muscle itself. If the type of pain is described as muscular but cannot be recreated with resisted movement, it could be an organ referring pain. Here again, repetitively resisting movement can really help determine how to help treat the injured structure.
Nerve symptoms require some specialized tests in the form of reflexes and sensation testing. True neurological injuries are very difficult to diagnose and to treat. In addition, any of the above can cause secondary and tertiary issues in other parts of the body, like muscles spasms or nerve pain due to encroachment with a disc herniation, for example.
Finally, one of the best ways to diagnose an issue is to treat the issue and see if it helps. Obviously, you cannot do this with everything, but as a chiropractor, I can do this for most injuries. Even a surgeon will tell you that nothing is definitive until they open you up and see it in real life. The point being, do not get too caught up with figuring out what something is before trying to treat it. Ruling out conditions is still valuable.
There you have it. Instead of plugging symptoms into WebMD to discover that you have a rare, incurable, terminal illness, just step back and look at the anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics of the body and go from there. Or, see your local chiropractor and let them help you through your issues or point you in the right direction. We spend a tremendous amount of time learning about all aspects of the human body.
In a world where we have so much access to information, I find that when it comes to diagnoses, there are some overly-simplified patterns. If there is pain in the foot, it is plantar fasciitis, pain down the leg is labeled sciatica, and elbow pain is tennis elbow. Not that these conditions are not common; just not that common. Tennis elbow is particularly over-diagnosed. Pain in the elbow is common. Tennis elbow, however, is specifically pain resulting from injury to the extensor tendons which insert at the lateral epicondyle causing inflammation and dysfunction. Simply put, to be tennis elbow, the pain must be right around the little knob on the outside of the elbow and get worse when trying to extend the wrist with resistance. It is called tennis elbow presumably because repetitive backhand swings in tennis will cause such a condition. Incidentally, pain on the inner knob is known as golfers elbow.
I have found that neither tennis elbow or golfers elbow are more common than just a regular subluxated elbow. As a hinge that rotates and pivots and is made up of three bones and two joints, dysfunction is easy to come by. Often, the radial head will get stuck farther back than it should be. This will cause a strain on the muscles that insert in that area and mimic or create tennis elbow. The good news is that with an adjustment or a few, the condition typically responds quickly. If it is, indeed, tennis elbow, the best thing to do is to make sure the elbow is adjusted and functioning properly, then focus on the tendons with ice, stretching, and myofascial massage or active release. So, the next time somebody complains of tennis elbow, tell them to see their local friendly chiropractor.