CNN: JFK’s Back Problems May Have Contributed To His Death


JFK giving a speechOn the anniversary of his death each November, Americans pause to remember the youthful vigor of John F. Kennedy.   Despite years of cover-up, JFK’s severe back problems have gradually become more widely known. But the latest news reports show that during his Presidency, his pain was so debilitating Kennedy risked lower spine lidocaine-and-amphetamine injections in a desperate hunt for relief.

This CNN story even suggests contemporary treatment methods may have contributed to his death.

Before he was in the White House, Kennedy’s chronic pain forced him to use crutches to cover even short distances, such as between meetings.  He endured four spinal surgeries so extreme they threatened his life.  At one point in his Senate career, he suffered tremendously from an infected incision wound that remained open for months.  He confided to his mother he was willing to take a fifty-fifty chance of death on any process that could help his pain.

Now, physicians who have studied Kennedy’s back problems say an unwieldy back brace may have played a role in his murder.  On the day he died, Kennedy was wearing a “firmly bound corset” from his hips to the middle of his chest, wrapped with a massive ACE bandage woven in a figure-8 around his torso.  The doctors speculate this may have made it extremely difficult for Kennedy to bend forward after being shot in the back shoulder, leaving him vulnerable to the follow-on shot that struck his head.

Ironically, according to the report, Kennedy was “well on his way” to recovery from back pain that day in Dallas, thanks to enlightened, non- invasive treatments.  Dr. Hans Kraus, known as the father of sports medicine, had put Kennedy on a regimen of carefully supervised weight training, swimming, massage and heat therapy.  For his long-term health, Kraus was determined to wean the JFK off the brace and drugs.  Kennedy had worn the brace to Dallas because he “had to look good,” and promised Kraus he would not use it after his return.

Kraus was indeed a pioneer, and the story throws light on the early days of effective, non-invasive treatment for back pain.  Today, I often help my patients with treatments focusing on natural posture, proper nutrition and exercise that help with even severe upper back, neck and shoulder pain.

Though sometimes, patients can be a little skeptical at first!

My patient A.D. was suffering from chronic back pain and had been unable to find relief.  In her words, she was “not a believer” in chiropractic but was “in so much pain, I was desperate.”

A massage therapist who treats professional athletes advised her to consult doctors who, like me, practice the Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic method, a specific system of analyzing and adjusting the upper vertebrae that is precise, gentle and effective.   I recommended a 3D X-ray of her cervical spine and following analysis, began a brief series of comfortable, precision adjustments.

She reported –  well, here is what she said in her YELP review:

“It was amazing!  I don’t even remember how bad my pain USED to be. I’m now a believer in upper cervical doctors like Dr. Nathan. I would definitely recommend coming here! Very affordable, clean, honest, and runs on time every time. Thx so much for making me feel SO much better!!!!!”

I’m so glad I was able to help A.D. and so many patients like her.  I am also grateful that we have so much more information at our disposal than was true in JFK’s time, as well as incredibly advanced technology and a refined philosophy that values non-invasive care that works with your body.  It might not get much publicity, but modern, non-invasive neck and back pain therapies offer much that is exciting and effective!

In my next post, I will introduce you to an amazing woman who has changed the lives of many back pain sufferers through groundbreaking work on rediscovering “primal posture,” a healthy, natural way of standing and sitting that has been lost in industrialized societies.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

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