Dr. Iain G Smith, DC
Dr. Iain G Smith is a chiropractor and Board Certified Craniopath in private practice in the United Kingdom.
Any doctor working in a primary care setting will have regularly been faced with those “odd cases” that don’t fit the typical clinical criteria for known neuromuskuloskeletal conditions. This subset of patients are usually subjected to an array of orthopedic and neurologic exams, blood tests, advanced imaging procedures and other tests without definitive findings to substantiate their symptomatic presentation. This is a great source of frustration for both the treating physicians and patients alike as no true diagnosis is reached.
These patients are all too often thought of as having a psychosomatic condition, at times their symptoms are inappropriately blamed on a comorbid condition, or worse still it is implied that an attempt at malingering or attention seeking might be underlying. This is not so much because of the presence of sound scientific evidence to substantiate the above, but rather because of the lack of evidence to provide a better explanation.
My 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with NF1 after developing cafe au late marks in late infancy. Not long after she began complaining of “sharpe pains in her head” which increased in frequency with age to multiple episodes daily. She also complained of transient hearing loss, dizziness, absences, insomnia, nausea and an array of musculoskeletal pains that came and went.
A standard recumbent brain scan was first performed in October of 2006 and revealed the presence of multiple hematomas within the deep gray, cerebellar nuclei and brainstem. Four follow up scans under GA, with contrast, have also identified the presence of a pre-chiasmal glioma in the left optic pathway which has to-date not changed in size.
Her presenting symptoms were always, in my opinion, consistent with mild CSF obstruction and I discussed this on more than one occasion with her neurologist. Although no frank signs of hydrocephalus were present he remained open to the idea but could not offer a means to successfully assess this possibility.
Last year a particularly challenging case was referred to me by her chiropractor here in the UK. She presented with an atypical array of neurologic signs that came on after a whiplash injury some years before. Neurology consult and standard testing to-date had failed to substantiate a diagnosis. With her consent, after reviewing her MRI scans, I contacted a colleague in the US for his opinion. He referred me to Dr. Scott Rosa, DC for his opinion. It was then that I became aware of Dr. Rosa’s scanning protocols and the vast potential offered by the FONAR upright scanner.
Following her last scan under GA in November of 2009 my daughter’s presentation deteriorated significantly seeing a marked increase in symptom frequency and severity along with the onset of episodes of bilateral weakness in the upper and lower extremities that at times resulted in drop attacks.
Due to the limitations of standard recumbent scanning, in February of 2010, I decided to bring her to the FONAR facility in Latham, New York. Dr. Rosa conducts the majority of his research here and I was keen to see if he could help gain an understanding as to the etiology of her symptoms.
FONAR’s scanner at this facility is somewhat unique and has the ability to not only assess the cranio-vertebral junction under weight bearing conditions but also has the software to measure CSF movements in and out of the cranial vault at the same time.
Sagittal, axial and coronal T2, T1 and PD sequences clearly showed descent of the cerebellar tonsils into the foramen magnum. The CSF gated flow rates demonstrated a marked obstruction to CSF flow in the posterior canal at the level of the C2 body.
Under Dr Rosa’s advice a change in adjusting procedures were undertaken. Lateral, frontal, and base posterior x-rays were obtained to identify the most specific vector possible and following an Atlas orthogonal protocol an adjustment administered to C1. This was repeated the following afternoon prior to post scanning.
Post MRI and CSF flow rate studies performed the following day showed marked improvements. There was a significant elevation of the cerebellar tonsils away from the foramen magnum along with resultant marked increase of CSF movement in the posterior canal.
My daughter’s symptomatic presentation has shown improvement to-date with a reduction in complaints of headache and a clear improvement in sleep pattern.
Without the technology of the FONAR upright scanner, along with Dr. Rosa’s guidance through the scanning procedure, I would not have been able to differentially diagnose the etiology of my daughter’s symptoms. I am now subsequently able to administer a noninvasive, corrective treatment option that has been demonstrated to have a significant level of success rather than rely on analgesia for pain management.
My medical journey started about 4 1/2 years ago. I have had drop attacks since 2/12/07. They would come in 2-4 day frequencies. But I never got past 6 days without a drop attack. I also had horrendous migraines, dizzy spells, night terrors and panic attacks. I would spend 4-5 days awake in bed so quality of life was nonexistent. So the merry go round of doctors began. First they sent me to the local neurologist who did the normal tests EEG, cat scans, MRIs, all which were considered normal. So he believing it was cardiovascular, had me have a tilt table test, EKG, echo cardiogram and had me wear a holter monitor. All which were also normal. So upon return to the neurologist he said he had no idea, put me on Topamax for migraines, lexapro for anxiety/depression, valium to help me sleep, xanax for panic attacks, phenegram and meclizine for the dizzy spells, vicodin and percocet for pain.
The next place they sent me to was IU Medical Center to rule out epilepsy. Then onto the Mayo Clinic to the heart lab. Repeated all the tests that were already normal, sent me to see the psychiatrist who spend 10 minutes with me, said it was psychosomatic and I should get counseling.
So upon returning to the neurologist he sent me to a colleague at Vanderbilt University. Who spent 40 or so minutes looking at notes and handed me a referral to the psychiatric unit at the University of Northwestern in Chicago for an evaluation.
They decided after 2 or 3 trips I needed lomictal to go with all my other meds and 2 weekly individual sessions and 1 group session a week. So I made weekly trips to Chicago 31/2 hours by train 2 times a week to learn how to handle my stress so these horrible things would stop and get better. But they never got better, nor lessened they just got worse my depression got worse cause my life was unraveling. So we stopped going to Chicago and did nothing but take roughly 500 pills a month and stay in bed in misery for days on end.
So around February of 2010, I decided I had, had enough. I was tired of being a burden, I was going to end it all. So I booked a vacation to Florida to see my brother so no one at home would find me. So with a ticket in my hand and a plan in my mind, I got on the plane bound for Orlando, F.L., after about 2 weeks I decided to act on my plan. I was sitting on my bed with several bottles of pills when my phone rang, and I just let it go. It was hard to ignore, so I hit silent, and it vibrated 2 or 3 more times so I picked it up it was a friend of mine who said God had laid it on her heart to call and each time I didn’t answer the urge got stronger. I told her I was busy but would call her later. Not 2 minutes later, my brother walked in the door 3 hours early for lunch said he had a feeling something wasn’t right. So we sat and I talked with him for hours, found a counseling center to go to, a Chiropractor and massage therapist. I was able to piece some things together, but none that helped any of my symptoms so distraught I returned home in mid May.
Returned to my church as I felt good enough to attend which was pretty sporadic. But I did happen to make it the last two Sundays of June 20th/27th and it was a day that has forever changed my life. After service Alene Culver a friend from bible study brought a distinguished looking gentleman to me and introduced him as Dr. Raymond Damadian. I remember quite clear the next words out of his mouth “I know what’s wrong with you” I thought yeah, if I had a nickel every time I had heard that in the last four years. He then asked why I wore a hockey helmet so I proceeded to give him a short history of my journey. He said he believed he could help. He asked a few simple questions, ever been in a car accident, 3 bad ones I said, any other head trauma, yes in 2000 they dropped 6 1/4 inch pieces of plywood to the back of my head and neck region and shortly before my symptoms started in 2007, I had fallen off the top of a 8 foot ladder and landed on the back of my head and neck on a set of 2 stairs in an RV unit. I had a level 2 concussion spent the night in the hospital for observation, I was sent home with a neck collar and told to return to work 3 weeks later. I had horrible headaches, and was told they were from the fall. When I returned to work on 2/12/07 after having a bout of the flu, I had my first drop attack. I awoke to find everyone staring at me, and so began my recurrent history of drop attacks. I was later told the attack was from an electrolyte imbalance resulting form the flu. This was the start of my medical nightmare, of trying to get a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
So after hearing these details Dr. Damadian felt I met the criteria of “Chiari Syndrome”. So he flew me to Long Island, to be scanned in his Upright MRI that he had developed with a cerebral spinal fluid flow software capable of diagnosing the suspected blockage of spinal fluid. After my scan was performed, his suspicion was confirmed. I had CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) flow blockage, due to my cerebellar tonsils dropping down thru the foramen magnum (opening in the base of my skull), causing inter-cranial pressure to build up inside my head. This increased pressure is what Dr. Damadian felt was causing my headaches, dizziness, drop attacks, neck pain etc. So he took my scans to a colleague who does Chiari surgery, and got a second opinion to see if I was a surgical candidate. . The surgeon felt I was indeed a surgical candidate. Subsequently, Dr. Damadian wanted to see if there might be another non-invasive avenue, to pursue for treatment before something as extensive as a spinal surgery. He sent my films and studies to Dr. Scott Rosa an Atlas Orthogonist Chiropractor, for a second opinion. Dr Rosa had been doing research on CTE (cerebellar tonsilar ectopia) and whiplash. After Dr Rosa reviewed my imaging studies, he felt confident he could help, and again my life took a turn for the better.
I first met Dr. Rosa in January 2011, and after his initial assessment and x-rays, I remember commenting to my husband this looks like a bunch of “hocus pocus”. But at this point I felt I had no other choice, as we had lost everything we had due to my high medical expenses. Considering I had lost my health and quality of life, I felt we had nothing to loose. So I hoped this was finally going to be the answer we had been searching and praying for. Dr Rosa took a series of special x-rays, made measurements and carefully calculated where my atlas misalignment was, as he felt the atlas misalignment was at the root of my problem. He then proceeded to lay me down on his atlas orthogonal adjusting table, and corrected my atlas misalignment. Prior to this correction Dr. Rosa found an imbalance in my leg length (indicative of the atlas misalignment) and after correction he rechecked my legs and found they had rebalanced. When the correction was made, I felt no pain or discomfort, and within a few minutes my head and neck felt better than they had in over 4 years. This was amazing!. Within 15 minutes, Dr. Rosa took a post x-ray to verify the proper reduction of my atlas misalignment. We were able to see the immediate difference in my post x-ray.
I remember the first thing the 2 doctors and my husband said was, “look her color is better”. I had always had an “ashen grey look” to my skin, and now my cheeks were rosy red. My symptoms were totally gone by the morning, and I woke up feeling refreshed and great for the first time in over 4years. Dr. Rosa then explained that he observed in my MRI study that I had some disruption and tears in some of the ligaments at the base of my skull. He also observed what he felt was a vertebral artery insufficiency at the level of the first and second vertebrae the “atlas and axis”. He felt that between the vertebral artery insufficiency, and low lying cerebellar tonsils obstructing my spinal fluid flow, that this was the cause of all my symptoms and drop attacks. So he explained that the atlas might need a series of corrections to allow healing and stabilizing to occur, and felt confident that my drop attacks, headaches, dizziness ,neck pain etc. would resolve. So in “adjustment”, I was finally headache free, dizzy spell free and my anxiety attacks had finally diminished.
I was told by Dr Rosa, that if I lost my adjustment, that I might get a flare-up. So as soon as the adjustment started to come out, I returned for another correction of my atlas misalignment. So once I get readjusted the healing continues. Thankfully, I feel great now, and considering in the beginning I was having drop attacks every 2-4 days and on 500 pills a month, after Dr. Rosa’s AO adjustment I have made it thru to day 28 was re-corrected, and just recently made it to day 42!!!. When I first had my atlas corrected, I would pass out before I lost my adjustment, then I made it 3 days out of adjustment before my passing out then I made it 7 days out of adjustment before passing out!!!!! So in total, in the last 84 days I have only had 2 drop attacks after having a history of having them every 2-3 days for 4 years. It is nothing shy of a miracle for me I am down to only 60 pills a month, and Dr Rosa’s research and treatment has given me my life back!!! Dr. Rosa is definitely the answer to thousands of people like me who were told it was all psychosomatic and medicated only to be left to a life of hopelessness and misery.
When I first came to see Dr. Rosa, to say I was a mess is an understatement. My journey began just over two years ago. I was fit, healthy, ate all organically, and was a bit of a health nut. I had no idea of what was coming.
It started for me as a heavy feeling in the back of my head. I thought that chiropractic must be what I needed. So I made myself an appt and got adjusted. Not two hours after my adjustment, did I arrive home to suddenly have burning and searing nerve pain all over my head and face. It was relentless and was lasting weeks.
The Doctor said it was Trigeminal Neuralgia, but I knew better. I was not accepting that at all. I knew that this had to do with my neck. So I continued to seek chiropractic services. I ended up working with a NUCCA Doctor, as I figured my problem was my atlas disc.
But from my very first adjustment, my burning, searing, aching nerve pain went body wide. I was devastated. How could this happen to me? I continued to get upper cervical chiropractic, as I believed that if this happened with an adjustment, surely an adjustment could fix it. I continued for 8 months. I got worse and worse. Some days my balance would be off, I would feel like I was walking on a ship.
My spine actually felt twisted and any walking put my in excruciating nerve pain from head to toe. I was living in a nightmare. Through all of this my MRI’s were determined to be normal and I was told that I had post partum depression and fibromyalgia. My daughter was 16 months old and I knew that this was not truth in my heart.
Finally I was recommended to Dr. Rosa and I must say that he Saved my Life!! I did not want to live anymore and he assured me that he had seen many people before me with common symptoms who had gone on to feel better. He showed me that I had a basilar tonsil on my MRI and that my atlas disc was out of alignment, as well as my spinal cord was twisted.
I have been seeing Dr. Rosa now for 2 years. I would like to say that the beginning was magic and I regained my pain free body after one adjustment, but that is not how things went. There were many months of healing and re-aligning and that meant my symptoms would flare up. Dr. Rosa made sure that he was available to my questions and always took the time to reassure me that things were moving along. He gave me hope and through that I stuck with his treatment.
My healing came slowly, but I began to notice that I was having pain free days. Sometimes the pain would come and go, but it was improving. Today I am in a place where I only get pain if my neck is moving out of alignment. I have a mostly normal life again. I have many days and weeks where the pain is gone or almost not there at all. I know that through continued treatment, that I will make a full recovery. I trust Dr. Rosa with my life, he truly is a very caring and compassionate man. I truly believe that God brought me to him, so that I could live again. For that I will be eternally grateful.