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  • Dr. Rhodes

The Three-legged Stool of Chronic Pain

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

When considering the problem of chronic pain, it helps to look at the body as a three-legged stool. If any of the 3 legs isn’t functioning optimally, the potential for problems exists. The other 2 legs can compensate, at least for a while, but this compensation can lead to further dysfunction, and when more than one “leg” is involved, there’s almost certain to be a crash.

Let’s take a look at the 3 “legs” to get an overall picture of how they work together in a healthy individual.

Leg 1 – Neuropeptides

The cells in the body depend upon a consistent and adequate supply of blood, which brings oxygen/nutrients and takes away unwanted things such as carbon dioxide. CGRP increases circulation to the skin, bones, small muscles, and most importantly nerves. VIP controls circulation to the digestive system and is extremely important as a helper in many of the body functions. For this reason, it has been dubbed “Very Important Peptide”.

Leg 2 – Biomechanics

The feet are the foundation of the body. If there are foundation problems in your house, door and windows will not work correctly because they do not have a stable foundation.

When the heel of the foot contacts the floor, the foot needs to act like a “mobile adapter” toadjust to the surface. As the weight shifts forward through the foot, the foot needs to change to a “rigid lever” to propel you forward. Walking “incorrectly” interferes with the nature’s “shock absorber” – the subtalar joint inside the ankle. Failure to utilize this shock absorber causes increased strain on the legs, hips and back.

Leg 3 – Structural Integrity

The bones depend upon circulation to remain strong. Adequate circulation at the level of the bone cells will promote strength. In addition, adequate circulation at the level of the bones means adequate circulation away from the bones carrying carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide is allowed to accumulate, it mixes with water to become carbonic acid, which lowers the pH. Calcitonin gene-related Peptide (CGRP) brings circulation to the bones. Both CGRP and VIP (Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide) increase the activity of osteoblasts that build bone and decrease the activity of osteoclasts which remodel bone.

Whenever any of the three “legs” are weakened, either from illness, or from injury, the effect is felt throughout the body. Imagine you are sitting on a three-legged stool and one of the legs develops a large crack. You would feel the instability, all the way at the top of the stool, as the other two legs struggled to compensate.

Even if you were somehow able to shift your weight to maintain balance using the two remaining legs, it wouldn’t take long for them to suffer from the increased burden.

The VECTTOR Therapy System is a form of electro-stimulation based upon acupuncture, reflexology, physiology, cellular physiology, and anatomy designed to stimulate the nerves to produce certain neuropeptides essential for optimal functioning of the body. These neuropeptides are vital for increasing circulation to the skin, bones, nerves, muscles, and for reducing oxidative stress.

Additionally, in order to optimize the biomechanical system, I recommend custom made orthotics for all of my patients, who have biomechanical problems. In my clinic, we still cast for orthotics the “old fashioned” way. I believe this is vitally important as I take time to observe each patient’s gait to identify subtle leg length discrepancies and other biomechanical dysfunctions, all of which can wreak havoc on the “biomechanics” leg of the stool. With proper fitting custom orthotics, most of the problems stemming from these issues can be mitigated or even eliminated.

To quote the Greek philosopher, Plato, “You ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body…the part can never be well unless the whole is well”. 2000 years later, this still holds true.

In good health and healing,


MKT-023 Rev A 10Jun22


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