Helping our patients achieve long term stability through
Non-narcotic, Patient-centered Treatment

Your body is a finely tuned instrument. Like all finely tuned instruments, it must be properly cared for in order to play the beautiful music it was intended to play. Care for your body and use it correctly, and it will play music that is unique to you – your life song.

Sean M. Wheeler, M.D.

At Body Guitar Clinic, our patient-centered treatment programs are designed to provide you with the tools and techniques you need to take control of your back, neck and shoulder pain and achieve long-term stability.

You’ll work one-on-one with experienced and highly-trained Sports and Pain Medicine Expert, Sean M. Wheeler M.D. and his staff to develop a comprehensive, goal-oriented treatment plan, tailored for your body and lifestyle.

Ready to take the first step toward pain-free living?

You Don't Have to Live Your Life in Pain

Learn more about our pain treatment options available to you: (click treatments to expand)

Back pain is one of the great failures of modern medicine. There are no great solutions, and many afflicted. Low back pain is the most common cause of disability worldwide and yet there is no defined answer. One consensus paper came out in 2013 and stated that in a great majority of cases there is no possible diagnosis.

This has led to many, many different practitioners of many different techniques claiming that they have the cure. Years ago, when disc bulges were found to be a cause of nerve irritation, and when steroid injections into the epidural space were found to help this irritation, anesthesiologists were the perfect solution to this problem. They were already doing epidurals for anesthesia and the transition to doing this procedure was easy. The problem was that not all back pain came from the discs and other procedures were soon developed. Deciding what procedure needed to be done involved a physical exam and an advanced diagnostic skill in low back pain causes. This is not what anesthesia physicians were trained to complete, so instead an algorithm was developed. If someone hurts here, do this. If that works, do this, if it doesn’t work then do this. An either/or type scenario that makes decision making easy. This then became standard of care and is the only accepted path to be taken according to insurance companies that pay for such procedures. The problem is that, in a significant number of cases, the algorithm doesn’t work.

So we have developed spinal cord stimulators to cover up all the pain, but they don’t work forever. Diagnosis disasters, like failed back syndrome and myofascial syndrome, which mean nothing except ‘we don’t know what is wrong’ became common. An opioid epidemic has developed that is blamed on patients rather than the failed system, and now we have patients denied a diagnosis, an adequate treatment plan and given medications that are harmful. All because of a lack of a diagnosis.

If you wonder if this is you, ask yourself if you got a detailed exam when you saw someone for your back pain. Did they look at you or just your MRI/X-rays? Did you leave with a diagnosis or just an explanation of the algorithm?

At Body Guitar Clinic, we promise you will get a diagnosis. Back pain is incredibly complicated and sometimes we need to unravel several problems, but there is a large and significant difference between a differential diagnosis and an algorithm. Come to Body Guitar Clinic and see why we are different.

Neck pain is every bit as complicated as back pain, if not more so. A lot of the time, when someone has neck pain they also have shoulder pain. Neck pain can cause your shoulders to hurt and shoulder pain can cause your neck to hurt. The problem with this is that most pain doctors only treat the neck and most orthopedic or sports medicine doctors only treat the shoulders. As someone who is trained in both pain and sports, Dr. Wheeler has a unique skill set that allows a one-stop approach to a difficult-to-manage problem. If you have struggled with neck pain or shoulder pain and treatment has proven difficult, this is your place.

There are many things that cause pain down the legs. For patients, anything that causes this pain is called sciatica. For physicians, the only thing that is called sciatica is something that irritates the sciatic nerve. So what irritates their sciatic nerve? A problem with the disc that irritates or pinches the nerve going past it that becomes the sciatic nerve, or a spasm of the piriformis muscle that irritates the sciatic nerve. That’s it. Now, there are two things that can cause the piriformis to spasm: hip pain and sacroilitis. Everything else is non-sciatic leg pain. This includes facet pain, sacroilitis that doesn’t irritate the piriformis muscle, hip pain that also doesn’t irritate the piriformis. Hamstring pain, muscles pain, along with other medical problems. While not every pain down the leg is sciatica, if you do have leg pain along with bowel or bladder changes, call your doctor or the hospital immediately as nerve damage that persists can become permanent. But if you have leg pain without the bowel or bladder changes, come and see us and get an accurate diagnosis.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing in the spinal canal. This narrowing can be caused by arthritis, disc bulging and/or ligament swelling. Most people have all of these things. Spinal stenosis usually causes leg numbness after walking or moving for a while. Then the person sits and rests and the numbness goes away. This is not how it always goes, but very often. Sometimes this patient needs surgery and sometimes we can get the ligament swelling to decrease, followed by physical therapy to keep the ligament swelling from coming back. If this sounds like you, then we might be able to help you.

There is a difference between disc bulges, disc herniations, disc protrusions, disc extrusions, etc. But, not enough to change the conversation about where they came from, what they mean and what to do about them. Everyone thinks that an MRI is the diagnostic end-all/be-all in the care of back pain. How did we get to this point? Doctors in many cases think that it is the end-all/be-all.

“You have back pain? Well, let’s see what the MRI shows.”

The problem is that less than half of the people with MRI findings of disc bulge have the symptoms of disc bulge. Couple this with the knowledge that several studies have shown that a large percentage of people without any pain have disc bulges, and you start to realize that MRI’s are a poor diagnostic tool. Studies have shown 35% of 20 year olds with no history of pain have disc bulges on MRI, and so do 60% of 60 year olds.

Do you have any idea how much time I have to spend on some first visits with a new patient convincing them that the MRI doesn’t fit their pain? This is especially true when they have had back pain for a long time. They have explained to everyone who has ever asked them to help them move, “I can’t. I have a disc bulge at L5/S1 and it is impinging on my L5 nerve root.” Then, there I am saying, “you still can’t help them move, but you have no weakness associated with an L5 nerve, no reflex changes and nothing down your leg that looks like L5.” It rarely goes over well, at least initially. Do many disc bulges correspond to the pain that people are having? Of course they do, but probably a lot less than you have been led to believe.

If this is you, you need to come in and be evaluated. One of the problems with using an algorithm to diagnose low back pain is that if you have back pain and a disc bulge you are automatically on the road to back surgery. If you are one of those people who have a disc bulge that has nothing to do with your pain, then surgery is a disaster. Make sure that isn’t you.

This is a common diagnosis that patients are given frequently. In almost 2 decades of caring for back pain, I have yet to care for a single patient that this was the cause of their pain. Does it tell me that their back is not stable? Yes. Is it the cause of their pain? No. Come in and get an accurate diagnosis.

Headaches are a difficult problem for many people. If your headache is controlled and pain is infrequent and short-lived, congratulations! For other headache suffers, maybe your headache is being triggered by a musculoskeletal problem. Let us evaluate your neck, shoulders and other possible triggers and see if we can reduce the number of headaches and possibly improve your life.

Knee pain has many different causes: Arthritis, meniscus tears, pes anserine bursitis, distal IT band bursitis, fibular head pain, plica syndrome, saphenous nerve pain, referral from hip, radiculopathy among other possibilities. If usual treatment of your knee pain is proving difficult, let us take a look. A non-narcotic, non-stem cell approach to evaluating and treating difficult to treat knee pain is what we do.

Failed back syndrome is an often-used name in medical circles that often means that the medical system has failed someone with back pain. The most common cause is when someone with back pain makes it through the algorithm used for treating back pain and then ends up having back surgery that they didn’t need. When back surgery inevitably fails, they are labeled as ‘failed back syndrome’ and regulated to pain pumps, spinal cord stimulaters and pain medication.

Sometimes it is because of damage during surgery or previous procedures. There are times when people have so many diagnoses involved that cure seems impossible. We have helped with so many people with ‘failed back syndrome’. In most cases we can help with both diagnosis and provide a chance for improvement.

Outside of muscle spasm, facet joints are the most common cause of low back pain. Facet joints are joints in your spine where movement occurs. Facet joints get hurt when the joint is impacted against itself in a trauma, or when the muscles around the joint are not holding it stable.

Normally, the facet joints allow the weight of the upper body to be distributed, and they limit motion. When the facet joints get irritated, the muscles around the facet joint try to pull the surfaces of the joints apart.

Patients with facet joint pain will have pain when getting up in the morning or after sitting for a while. They will lean over counters and shopping carts and avoid backbending activities. Treatment of facet pain begins with an attempt to control the inflammation. This is done with anti-inflammatories, a steroid injection or radiofrequency ablation (which is burning of the nerves to the facet joint). The decrease in pain must be significant enough to allow us to then treat the muscle weakness, instability, tightness and compensation that occurs rapidly when one develops facet pain.

Treatment of these joints without treating the resulting issues that come with the pain will ultimately lead to continued facet pain that needs to be treated over and over. Our approach to treating facet pain has led to a great majority of our patients having long-lasting pain relief without return of pain.

The SI (sacroiliac) joint is the joint between the sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of your spine, and the ilium. The ilium are the bones on either side of the sacrum that make up your pelvis and create the hip where the leg bones (femur) attach. These pelvic bones make up a very stable joint that is essentially unmovable. However, if your back is not stable from facet pain and you are swaying from side to side when you walk, you are putting pressure on the ligaments of this SI joint with every step. Eventually, the ligaments will stretch out. Then the SI joint moves with each step. When this joint moves, it can become inflamed. Most of the time SI joint pain begins from prolonged facet pain, but it can also start from an injury to the joint itself.

Most people can remember the day that their sacroiliac joint began to hurt. It is a significant day in the respect that the pain goes from, “I did this today and that is why my back hurts,” to, “My back hurts every day no matter what I do”. It also is the day where getting better becomes more difficult. To cure your SI joint, you have to walk better. To walk better you have to have the strength in your stabilizer muscles to support the back when you move. And to get these muscles stronger, you have to stop the pain in your facets and get your posture corrected!

People with inflammation of their sacroiliac joint have pain if they sit too long – they feel like standing. They have pain if they stand too long – they feel like sitting. They hurt if they walk too long; they even hurt if they lay down too long. They hurt more if they hold something heavy in one arm. They find themselves standing on one leg and then the other. Some people find that crossing their legs to tie their shoes is very painful. The treatment for Sacroilitis is much the same as the treatment for facet pain, but the strengthening afterwards is even more important and takes longer to improve the way you walk.

How it Works

The Body Guitar Framework

When you say YES to pain-free living, our first priority is to provide you with a better understanding of how your body works. We will walk you through the causes for your musculoskeletal pain or injuries and WHY we recommend select treatment options.

We will also set mindset expectations for your road to recovery, teach you how we use motion to document improvement, and ultimately, help you understand the vital role of physical therapy for long-term stability.

But our care doesn’t stop there; We believe that caring for our bodies is a lifelong commitment. We will set you up with practical lifestyle applications, such as how to best incorporate sleep, nutrition, etc. into your routine to enhance your overall quality of life for many years to come.

The best part? We will be supporting and empowering you through every step of the healing process.

Here’s our framework for thorough, high-quality care that every patient can expect:


Body Guitar Diagnosis

A good diagnosis is the cornerstone for successful healing. When you come in to see us, we’ll walk you through a detailed interview so we can get to know you and your story better. Then, after an in-depth physical exam and further evaluation, we’ll provide you with a clear diagnosis and all the information you need to better understand it.


Tune Me Treatment

Once you have a diagnosis, we will set you up with a treatment plan that is customized to your body and lifestyle. Our treatment is non-narcotic and physical therapy centered with procedures aimed at producing a pain-free period of time that allows for improved strength and stability.


Monitor & Record

Body guitar utilizes the latest in video motion sensing technology to measure and track the progress of your movements, posture, etc. over time as you age. This data makes physical therapy treatments more precise, more individualized, more accessible and more efficient.


Amplify Your LIfe

After we’ve corrected your body’s major, out-of-tune “notes,” we search for functional medicine solutions to further support and improve your health and lifestyle.


If the injections are used without appropriate strengthening, then, yes. However, when used appropriately, steroid shots are a vital stepping stone on the path to becoming pain-free.

When someone has back or neck pain, the stabilizing muscles get weaker as the larger muscles around the neck and back spasm. Getting strength back in these stabilizing muscles while you hurt is almost impossible. A steroid shot can create a pain-free 2-3 month period of time where one can do physical therapy and get these stabilizing muscles strong again.

Stability muscles (bracing muscles) have very little to do with being strong. A pitcher doesn’t do rotator cuff exercises to make their shoulder strong. They do it to pull the arm into the socket and keep it stable while pitching. Stability muscles don’t move you, they hold you steady while everything else is moving.

Yes! Your chiropractor can make adjustments to treat pain and your trainer can help you move better to prevent it, but a physical therapist works specifically to improve your muscle firing sequence, posture, gait and stability to maintain a pain-free life.

Though all three are important, we only get a few months after a steroid shot to get everything right. If your trainer or chiropractor aren’t in-tune with our plan of action, then they may actually prevent you from seeing results. We use video motion analysis before and after physical therapy to track improvement, allowing us to hold physical therapists to a very high standard.

We have several steps that we think are important to understand. 

First, we have to get you out of pain before any kind of rehab can take place and be effective. Pain causes a change in: the way you move and stabilize, flexibility, muscle firing sequence, muscle contraction, etc. Depending on the severity, this may look like physical therapy, modalities, steroid shots or even surgery. 

Once we have your pain treated we begin to aggressively push a rehabilitation protocol in order to get stability, flexibility, mobility and muscle firing sequence back. We often use the video motion evaluation to evaluate these treatments. 

We then set up long-term morning exercises that are supposed to take a few minutes but can be done quickly, every day for years to decades. This keeps you from having a recurring problem and works towards maintaining stability throughout your life.

We do not prescribe pain medication on the first visit—only in rare cases when the pain is new onset and severe. 

In almost all cases we refer to a different physician who is very experienced in medication management. We feel that narcotics are a very dangerous drug that need expert evaluation by someone who deals with its use on a daily basis. 

Narcotics are not a main component of our practice and, for those who prefer it, we can find alternative methods that work for you. This is a conversation we welcome in order to help you figure out the best solution for you.

Before coming into our practice, you will fill out a questionnaire about your pain and your medical/social/family history. We will then interview you about your pain and perform a detailed physical exam. If additional exams or films are needed, we will go over these with you. We will then go over your diagnosis and explain your treatment plan, whether that’s injections, medications, further imaging, referrals, etc. Due to various insurance, staffing and scheduling factors, it is rare that we do injections on the same day that we examine you. Please have patience with the process.

Traveling In?

If you are traveling vast distances to be treated for pain at Body Guitar Clinic and would like assistance with your lodging and travel arrangements, our team can offer recommendations. Please contact us at 913-291-2819 and ask for Julie .