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Body pain can be a precursor to anxiety disorder

Visiting chiropractic expert Dr. Donald McDowall fixes muscles, joints and nerves, so people feel ‘far less anxiety’
/ 05:05 AM November 14, 2017

recent visitor, kinesiologist Dr. Scott Cuthbert, demonstrates how to perform muscle testing.

Ms. X, an elderly patient, had undergone two spinal surgeries and had Herrington rods inserted and fused into her spine to correct her scoliosis. Although the surgeries kept her in good health, she still experienced progressive back and leg pains, until she could no longer move properly.

Understanding her complicated condition, visiting chiropractic expert Dr. Donald McDowall treated specific areas in her spine and muscles to relieve her pain and allow her to be in control of her movements.


After three months of regular chiropractic care, physical therapy and massage therapy, Ms. X walks faster and moves with a wider range, with less discomfort. Although her condition has yet to return to what is normal for most people her age, she has already shown remarkable progress.

A locally registered chiropractic specialist, McDowall regularly flies from Australia to the Philippines to hold clinic in Intercare Olympia. With his 40 years of experience, he has done research for the academe and treated a range of patients, even elite athletes such as Czech tennis superstar Ivan Lendl.


He is touted as a “magician” for his ability to handle delicate conditions. McDowall humbly maintains that his role is to find a way to understand the patient. Most patients complain to him about back, neck and head pains.

He explains that the chiropractic approach is holistic. It aims to enhance the strength and life force of the patient, aside from treating the debilitating condition.


“The original concept of chiropractic has to do with the tone of the body, how the body functions and resonates with health. Chiropractic builds tone—like tuning a musical instrument so that it can express beautiful music,” he says.

Chiropractic healthcare provides a natural alternative to nerve, muscle and bone ailments. In correcting bone and muscle structures, the nerve supply to the different muscles and organs are improved, which invariably affect their overall health and well-being.

All told, chiropractic care has the ability to help people live healthier and more productive lives.

However, today’s fast-paced yet sedentary lifestyle makes people prone to musculo-skeletal ailments. McDowall cites research in Australia that about a million people, or one in 30, suffer from anxiety disorders that are largely related to muscle and joint problems.


Then there is the example of sitting for prolonged hours, which results in tightened hips, gluteal muscles and legs. Research conducted by the University of Michigan says that staying glued to your seat for a long time not only weakens muscles, but also increases health risks.

“They can’t move,” Dr. Martin Camara, Intercare’s clinic director, says. “When we correct that, we give them this ability to move and lessen incidences of these diseases, even if it’s not related to pain. Healing is multifactorial. Given the same diagnosed condition and treatment protocols, one person is going to respond completely differently from the other.”

Dr. Martin Camara does a neck adjustment on Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz. PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN

When people complain about pain or discomfort, the chiropractor evaluates the patient’s condition using manual or functional muscle testing. This determines
muscle strength, and if the problem is related to functional nerve pressure, aside from misalignment of the spine.

Strength or weakness

“Weaknesses are caused by pinched motor nerves, while pain is caused by pinched sensory nerves,” Camara says. “By measuring the strength or weakness of a muscle, a skilled chiropractor can identify where the pain is coming from and make adjustments to address the pain and weakness.”

Whenever McDowall is in the Philippines, he meets a broad range of patients, not only those with muscle and bone issues, but also ones with emotional challenges.

“Sometimes people get frustrated when they can’t accomplish something,” McDowall says. “We find that muscle problems are a precursor or a major cause of 85 percent of anxiety disorders. If we fix their muscles, joints and nerves, they have far less anxiety.”

Patients with back pain and who are unable to engage in their favorite activities, travel or work, are common cases. Their condition affects their state of mind, and consequently, their relationships.

Children’s cases are often from injuries after a bump or fall. Older children complain of neck pain from staring at the screens of their tablets and smartphones for hours.

“We teach them how to sit properly, how to use their hands and how not to stress their neck or back so they feel better,” McDowall says. “Children can’t always express how they feel. That can frustrate parents, when children’s emotions are unstable.”

Asked about the essence of his job, McDowall replies with a chuckle: “Peace in the family —happy relationships.”

Dr. McDowall will hold clinic from Nov. 16-30 at Intercare Olympia, Somerset Building, 7912 Makati Ave. Makati City. Call 6221007

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TAGS: anxiety disorder, body pain, Donald McDowall
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