Physical Therapist 60613, Chicago, IL
MEET DR. JACOBAZZI
As a 13-year-old, the doctor was involved in many sports year round and one of his favorites was wrestling. He was so into it, he had begged and pleaded with his parents to send him to the weeklong Summer Iowa Wrestling Camp run by the legendary Dan Gable. Along with the legendary coach, the wrestling camp also had a legendary price tag but, his parents were willing to make the sacrifice because he was so motivated and focused on improving his skills and they wanted to be as supportive as possible. The week leading up to camp, he had been running in preparation and noticed a slight twinge in his lower back, no big deal as a 13-year-old, those things came and went. Upon arriving at camp on the bus, all the camp goers were greeted by Coach Gable and he gave an awe inspiring and motivating talk, instilling both motivation and a healthy dose of fear as he promised to challenge everyone to the limits of their abilities … and then push them all just a little bit further. The camp was a full weeklong and by the second day, the doctor’s slight twinge had gone to a full blown back spasm with pain radiating up and down the spine. The weeklong camp soon turned into an experience of dread and despair. Dr. Dan was unable to participate in all but the most basic drills and exercises or the pain became so severe he wasn’t able to move. Not to mention the fact that sitting out in front of all the other campgoers and coaches, including Coach Gable, was incredibly demoralizing even a little heartbreaking for a young man. He came away from the camp, not with a challenging and fulfilling experience but, with an extreme sense of disappointment.
He subsequently visited his family care physician, an orthopedic specialist, physical therapist, massage therapist … you name it, he visited them all, with no clear answer to his problem. By then the cross country season was starting and he had already become accustomed to experiencing some level of pain on a regular basis and when the effort level rose, the pain levels also rose. Sometimes the pain was excruciating and other times, completely absent, there was no clear pattern. As a 13-year-old, he wasn’t always quick to communicate the problem especially after all the experts didn’t seem to really provide a real answer.
Progressing through high school, his interests slowly gravitated towards track and field, partly because he had some natural abilities and the running didn’t always cause his back pain to be as severe and he could manage dealing with it. By the end of his junior year, he had enough of running distance and focused on pole vaulting, minimal amounts of extended running and what’s not to like about flying straight up, skyward! And for the first time, his lower back pain was not sidelining him from training or competing. Being able to train and compete without interruption, he qualified for the state meet by his senior year in the large division schools and placed in the top 10, setting a school record that still stands today. The significance of this result isn’t the result itself but, the fact he was able to finally compete and train regularly and ENJOY it without significant pain. Even though it was still there, it was manageable and he could work through it.
Because his success came so late, he decided to transfer from his initial school which had no track team to Auburn University to attempt walking on to their track and field program as a pole vaulter. He selected Auburn University because of its highly ranked engineering school, Top 10 in the country, and the fact the pole vaulting program was developing and he felt he could make his mark with enough persistence and solid effort, he was right. By his second year at Auburn, he was granted a scholarship and was the only scholarship pole vaulter in the program … and that’s were things started to go downhill again. As a college athlete, it was not uncommon to train for 20-25 hours a week, it truly was a second job on top of the classroom responsibilities. The massive increase in training volume soon played havoc with his lower back and the problem experienced so long ago at Dan Gable’s Iowa Wrestling camp returned on a more persistent level. The amount of sprint training required in high school was dwarfed by the amount of training he underwent in college.
His collegiate career followed a pattern of looking GREAT at the beginning of the indoor season and as time passed and the season progressed to the outdoor season not so great where he was experiencing nagging, distracting lower back pain which could even be immobilizing at times. The continuous training always seemed to take its toll. Despite being asked to go to the Drake Relays, he had to pass on the opportunity due to his lower back which happened to be acting up in the weeks leading up to the event. This time, the University shuttled him to the local experts, the team physician, even the football training room after the track athletic trainers threw their hands up in frustration. Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic legend in the South, was also consulted, still nothing concrete and no real answer. At the end of his junior season, it was just a fact there was no way to get rid of the lower back pain until one day, another athlete mentioned off hand, there was an old chiropractor in town who saw athletes for free. Dr. Dan mentioned this option to the head athletic trainer and she immediately said proceed at your own risk. Given his analytical nature, the young man figured “it can’t get any worse, right?” So, he went to see this chiropractor having never seen one before in his entire life. The first visit was … interesting. The doctor was tall, with great bushy eyebrows and wore an old school coat which looked like a vintage barber jacket. He introduced himself to the doctor and explained his situation. The doctor then conducted an efficient and thorough evaluation. After which he directed the young man to lie down on the table which was shoved into the corner. A few seconds later, he delivered a lower back adjustment, first on one side, then the other … He wasted no breath on an explanation of technique, one side then the next, the room so small the young man had to change his position of the table from one end to the other so he could work on both sides as it was pushed up against the wall. In that moment, Dr. Dan experienced a level of relief he’d not had in nearly 10 years. Only 20 years old and he’d already been experiencing lower back pain for nearly half his life and suddenly it was gone. Immediately following that first adjustment, Dr. Dan recalled having one of the most productive, intense and pain-free practices in his entire life.
Despite telling everyone who would listen that he felt great, better than even, he still noticed there was a lot of resistance against him seeing the chiropractor. This resistance only made him more curious and more interested. Here was a treatment which had given him relief when nothing else had, he could avoid having to take medicine continuously and his performance level was noticeably improved, there was no downside which only piqued his curiosity about the profession.
His senior year, the only season during which he received regular chiropractic care, was the only season he was able to compete both indoor and outdoor without interruption. It was a gift he was thankful for and a far cry from that first debilitating episode he had experienced so long ago at wrestling camp. He was so inspired by his experience he shelved his plans to pursue a career in medicine and looked into going to chiropractic school. After quick two-year stint in the graduate engineering school, he transitioned to chiropractic school and the rest is history. He completed his chiropractic degree in 1999 and has been working ever since to helping people be pain-free with gentle, natural, drug-free solutions for their problems. The only break he took during the last 20 years was to further his development as a professional and earn a physical therapy degree to better help his patients.