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The Pettibon System® is a spinal rehabilitation system developed 30 years ago by chiropractor Dr. Burl Pettibon. While still a student learning the principles of chiropractic—which include that much of our health depends on the proper alignment of the spine—Dr. Pettibon noticed that there was no generally-accepted model to use as a point of reference during chiropractic treatment. It was sometimes obvious that one or more vertebrae were misaligned, and they could be brought back into alignment using standard chiropractic manipulation, but what should an “ideal spine” actually look like once the obvious problems had been corrected?

Dr. Pettibon began to work with X-rays to postulate and define such a model, and he created a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the spine’s hard and soft tissues to help patients achieve this ideal spine. This program is offered by a growing number of chiropractors around the world, who utilize its unique methods of diagnosis and treatment to aid patients.

One of the things that make the Pettibon System so unique is its reliance on X-rays – not just as a diagnostic tool, but as a measurement tool used all the way through treatment to assess the patient’s progress and demonstrate that the technique is effective. Another unique aspect of this system is that patients are not automatically accepted for treatment; therapy is begun only if the initial X-rays and tests suggest that the technique can benefit the patient.

How does the Pettibon system work?

Once a patient is accepted for treatment, the Pettibon System utilizes a number of proprietary methods that take advantage of gravity to help the patient’s spine become more upright and properly aligned in its upright position with regard to gravity. One aspect of the treatment involves the Pettibon Weighting System™, in which patients wear specially-designed head, shoulder, and hip weights for up to 20 minutes a day. The amount of weight and the placement of them depend on the individual patient, and the amount of spinal displacement that must be corrected. The weights alter the center of mass of the head, thoracic cage, and pelvis, causing the body’s own “righting reflex” to cause it to balance itself. In effect, the weights cause the patient’s muscles to perform isometric exercises, bringing itself more into a proper state of alignment. Isometric exercises help to eliminate muscle spasms that affect posture and use the body’s own mechanisms to help it regain its proper balance, strength, and endurance.

What else is involved in the Pettibon system?

Other exercises and specialized equipment are also used in the Pettibon System. The famous Wobble Chair™ flexes the spine, rehydrating and nourishing the spinal discs, adding strength and flexibility to the ligaments of the back, and helping to heal disc bulges and tears, if present. The Linked Trainer strengthens core muscles using a specific sequence of isometric exercises to correct spinal imbalances. The 6-Way Stretch apparatus stretches muscles, retrains muscles to hold a more proper muscles alignment, and warms up the neck for the next set of exercises. And the Pettibon Tendon Ligament Muscle Stimulator (PTLMS) helps to relieve spasm and inflammation and flush out toxins.

One additional benefit of the Pettibon System is that the patient is encouraged to actively participate in the therapy, both in the office and at home. While waiting for the therapist, the patient utilizes the specialized equipment to warm up and stretch their muscles, and they are also given follow-up exercises for home care.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Pettibon System and what it can do for you, just call or visit our office. We’ll be happy to tell you more about our approach!

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