Interviewer [00:13]: Welcome to the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner. Today we’re talking about muscle guarding. Hi.

Dr. Ward Wagner [00:20]: Hi, how’s it going?

Interviewer [00:21]:Great. Okay, so this is always exciting to find out something new from you. And we want to start off, of course, with talking about Dixie Chiropractic. You are a well-known chiropractor in the area and an interesting background. Why don’t you start off with telling us about yourself so that our listeners know, and then we’ll go on to muscle guarding?

Dr. Ward Wagner [00:42]: My background, of course, aside from chiropractic has always been things involving the human body, sports, that kind of thing. I originally wanted to coach and so I thought that education was going to be the direction that would take me. But then after some injury, I made a sudden change and decided to go chiropractic…

Interviewer [01:08]: A life-changing decision. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [01:09]: It really was, you know, to get injured, and then have it be something that turns my direction. It was a good injury was a good thing. So the sports that I’ve played are many and varied. I guess you could say I’m kind of a jack of all trades, master of none, I guess. But anyway track and field was my great love in high school. I also played some football. Basketball is my favorite recreational sport. I like to golf. I played some rugby on actually a nationally ranked team while I was attending chiropractic school which was a whole interesting different experience and where I picked up most of my permanent injuries. So where I’m well versed is I’ve lived it. I’ve had to rehab many various different types of injuries, SC joint separation, AC joint separation, total dislocation of my humerus, a torn meniscus in my knee, low back sprains.

Interviewer [02:14]:[inaudible 02:14] 

Dr. Ward Wagner [02:14]: Yeah, on and on.

Interviewer[02:14]: Well, anyone that we’ve talked about this so many times, anyone that’s had this type of pain, they get it. If you haven’t been through a back injury, per se, you don’t get it. But man.

Interviewer [02:28]: It’s amazing. I’ve had 70-year-olds come into my office and say, and they’re really angry, and they say, I’ve never had any pain my whole life. 

Interviewer [02:38]: That’s my mom.

Dr. Ward Wagner [02:39]: This is just driving me crazy.

Interviewer [02:41]: Just a bunch of you know, she had babies and never my entire life, she never was sick a day in her life. And then just suddenly, yeah, I mean, it does happen. I suppose.

Dr. Ward Wagner[02:50]: It does. There are those lucky few.

Interviewer [02:52]: So your chiropractic let me just tell people where you are located, 10, North 400 East, right downtown. Right at the roundabout, I mean, you literally, are on the roundabout, great parking right there. And you have a great website, and I really encourage our listeners to head towards And on that website, it’s very user-friendly. If you have basic questions, you’ve got some videos on there. And really, it’s a great website to kind of get the basics for your office there.

Dr. Ward Wagner [03:25]: Right, right.

Interviewer [03:27]: Now, let’s talk about muscle guarding because I’m not familiar with the term muscle guarding. But we’ve talked about a lot of opportunities and ways that you’re able to get rid of pain.

Interviewer [03:39]: You got it. See, muscle guarding is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the body that accompanies injury. And the most famous is fractures. So what I always have people do is, you know, pretend you’re watching an old-time western movie, okay. A guy falls off of his horse or falls off a cliff or, you know, something or other.

Interviewer [04:00]:Dies. Oh, no. He doesn’t die, okay.

Dr. Ward Wagner [04:01]: No, no, no. He’s still alive. He’s still alive, but he’s broken his leg, okay. And so his buddies rushed to the rescue, they pull him up the mountain or whatever the case may be. And they say, oh, we got to reset that bone, you know. And so they usually have him bite on a stick or something like that because this is really going to hurt. 

Interviewer [04:14]: And it is going to hurt. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [04:21]: And then what some people pick up on and others may not is how much force it takes to get that bone back to straight again. It’s not like you’re dealing with a tree limb where if a tree limb snaps you can realign it just by grabbing the two pieces and kind of putting it back. With muscle guarding surrounding an injury those muscles go to immediate spasm. And the reason for that is it’s protective. It’s a protective mechanism that keeps those bony edges from now allowing movement because if you have a fracture, you have a broken bone, those fragmented edges could now cut arteries and nerve tissue and all tissues surrounding that. And so it is a protection that keeps you from doing further damage essentially. So, muscle guarding protects all kinds of injuries, sprain injuries, fractures, strains, all kinds of injuries cause muscle guarding as a protection.

Interviewer 05:30]: Okay, so muscle guarding is a good thing? 

Dr. Ward Wagner [05:33]: Yes.

Interviewer [05:34]: Yeah, okay.

Dr. Ward Wagner [05:35]: Yes, initially with an acute injury muscle guarding is actually a really good thing because of the protection that it provides to the injured area, again, because it prevents further damage. However, when muscle guarding remains after the injury is healed, now, this takes us into something completely different called movement disorder.

Interviewer [05:57]: Okay. And we had talked about that before.

Dr. Ward Wagner [05:59]: Yes, we talked about that on other shows. 

Interviewer [06:02]: So this is kind of pre before that happens?

Interviewer [06:05]: Exactly. 


Interviewer [06:06]: Yeah, it starts with just muscle guarding hasn’t become memory yet, when it becomes a muscle memory is because that’s programmed into the brain and the muscles and that becomes a bad thing. So if the initial injury, let’s say the fracture side, let’s talk about the leg again. Let’s say that fracture heals over but you still have that muscle guarding or now movement disorder associated with that. Now you can start wearing out other joints. Let’s say it was the femur bone that was broken. Now you might wear out your hip or your knee because you’re moving incorrectly even though the original injury is gone.

Interviewer [06:21]: Right. You’re still babying it and it’s not even there,

Dr. Ward Wagner [06:45]: Right. So it may become a bad thing because now motion is impaired. And wear and tear on the joint is greater. So then yes, it can become problematic.

Interviewer [06:58]: Okay, so someone comes into your office, and they’re not sure. You know, I don’t know, I just know that I can’t tie my shoes, or whatever it is. Sometimes maybe you know that they’re a golfer, or that they’re a ballplayer, or that they’re, you know, a dishwasher or whatever it is. And sometimes they do know what they’ve done to hurt themselves.

Dr. Ward Wagner [07:18]: Right. And it’s funny, like, okay, let’s go back to what you mentioned about, let’s say, a golfer, okay. So they’ve been able to swing that club just fine. But now after having broken a rib, for some reason, having a fall or something like that. Now, suddenly, their golf swing is not what it used to be, it’s off and it hurts when they try to swing correctly, that sort of thing. And it’s really frustrating because it’s frustrating for patients. And it’s frustrating for doctors because many doctors aren’t versed in this. And so all they know how to do is maybe prescribe a muscle relaxant or something like that. But that isn’t something that’s going to override something that is programmed into the brain muscle complex.

Interviewer [07:57]: So what do you do? I know you’ve got your laser machine that you’ve got bragging rights on, you’ve got decompression all kinds of opportunities or ways that people can come to see you.

Dr. Ward Wagner [08:10]: We’ve got all kinds of treatments that help with this. Now, sometimes it is as simple as pointing our laser at it and you know, things of that nature. But it all starts with my evaluation. The evaluation that I do, is geared toward not only discovering where someone hurts and what tissues are involved but the why. Why does this tissue hurt? What’s causing repeat injury or chronic pain that never goes away? See, a lot of times people think that well, it hurts so that just means I need to work it harder. I need to go to the gym and work harder and that sort of thing. 

Interviewer [08:49]: That’s funny because I never think like that. Maybe I need to change my thought process. But yeah, I understand how it makes sense.  

Dr. Ward Wagner [08:57]: If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. That’s some people’s mentality.

Interviewer [09:00]: Yeah, they wrote a song about that. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [09:03]: Exactly. Right. I do not agree with that mentality because it’s rare that that’s actually the cure.

Interviewer [09:11]:Okay. So people come into your office, you’ve got a great office some really nice employees there. And people are afraid sometimes they’re afraid to come in and oh, I hate going to the doctor and what about these you know, the chiropractor?

Dr. Ward Wagner [09:27]: Well, like I tell people don’t trust me, you know, call the office, talk to Laura. 

Interviewer [09:31]: Laura knows it all. Yeah, she really does.

Dr. Ward Wagner [09:33]: She does and she really makes people comfortable. She is incredible. But yes, what we do when we have people like this who are frustrated because they’re not getting better. They’ve been to see doctors the doctors are frustrated because they’re not sure exactly what’s going on. The MRI is clear or 

Interviewer [09:49]: Right, and you know when you’re hurt. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [09:50]: They can’t find it on an X-ray and yeah, and that sort of thing but yet they still hurt. So my examination process is curtailed defining the why. So not only am I having people do range in motion and things like but I’ll add external pressure in order to see if it’s active movement or passive that’s causing it. I also have them contract various muscles while they’re doing different things to try to rule in and rule out whether it’s ligament, disk, muscle, tendon, you know, joint capsule, whatever the case may be. And so my exam is very different. And the reason I’m saying that is that I get this feedback from patients all the time, they’re like, you know, I can’t believe what you just did, you just spent 5, 10 minutes, having me do all these different things. Most doctors I go to just ask me some questions and then want to take an X-ray.

Interviewer [10:40]: Yeah, take some ibuprofen. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [10:41]: So we try to get to the root cause of why they’re hurting. 

Interviewer [10:47]: How did it start? Sure. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [10:48]: And then we’re able to address it more effectively.

Interviewer [10:51]: So let’s talk about an offer that you can make to our listeners because I know it’s really important initially, just to come in and see you and find out how to, you know, let’s figure out what the root of this is.

Dr. Ward Wagner [11:05]: You bet, like I said, the muscle guarding part, the movement disorder part is something that is not well known out there, especially by patients because when you’re injured, your body lies to you. I tell people that all the time, your body will lie to you telling you one thing when really, it’s something else. 

Interviewer [11:23]: Interesting, okay. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [11:24]: This is why there are some injuries I’ve had even in recent years, I feel like I’m pretty good at this stuff. But I need to sometimes go to someone and say, hey, what do you think about this because I’m not getting better?

Interviewer [11:36]: Yeah, but generally, we’re in tune to our bodies. And you know if it hurts you need to go get that fixed. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [11:41]: Yeah, the part that doesn’t lie is the pain. 

Interviewer [11:44]: Yeah, sure. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [11:45]: Anyway, what we’re offering is you can come in, you get my initial examination and screening for muscle guarding muscle memory issues, but also we’ll include with that two laser treatments. And the reason I say that is because so many movement disorders and muscle guarding issues are revolving around overuse injuries, such as tendinitis is bursitis, herniated discs, things of that nature, and they need laser to heal. But on top of that, so two free laser treatments, and also a free one-hour massage and all of that for $99.

Interviewer [12:24]: That’s a great deal. And you’ve got quite a few masseuses there at your, is that right? I mean, don’t you have three or four people that come?

Dr. Ward Wagner [12:33]: We have four. 

Interviewer [12:34]: Oh, it’s four now?

Dr. Ward Wagner [12:34]: Yes. We have four massage therapists right now. And they’re all phenomenal, handpicked by me.

Interviewer [12:40]:Okay. Good. So for $99 and evaluation, two laser treatments and a massage. And once again, Dixie Chiropractic is located at 10 North 400 East at the roundabout the number to call, 673-1443. Call Laura. You can also go online to 

Dr. Ward Wagner [13:03]: That’s right. 

Interviewer [13:05]: Okay, so I was just kind of curious about the laser. We talked about the laser before and you really have the best laser here in town.

Dr. Ward Wagner [13:14]: We do. In fact, it’s the strongest, most powerful laser made in the world for therapeutic purposes. It’s a 60-watt laser, penetrates up to about five inches deep into the body. Virtually heals everything it touches when infrared light contact cells and tissues in the body it ramps up all the healing agents such as ATP. Everybody that took any biology in high school, remember ATP and it haunts them. Anyway, ramps up ATP, prostaglandins, fibroblastic activity, all the things that cause cells to regenerate quickly and heal. And so things like tendinitis, things like bursitis, you know, and so what we’re talking about there is like your tennis elbows and your plantar fasciitis, and your rotator cuff syndromes. All these things do very, very well with laser therapy. And then my favorite thing to treat and that’s herniated discs and bulging discs in the back.

Interviewer [14:14]: There’s a lot of us that have experienced that. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [14:16]: We get a lot of success with laser and decompression when we’re fixing those things.

Interviewer [14:20]: That’s great. Okay, yeah, and decompression so tell me how that works.

Dr. Ward Wagner [14:26]: Well, okay, decompression is a method of well, let me back up. Okay, herniated discs and bulging discs. That’s where the disc, which has a jelly-filled center, is now kind of extruding or protruding outside where it should be. So there’s some maybe micro-tearing in the outer layers and now that disk is protruding out through where it shouldn’t be and so causing serious pain, nerve pressure, that kind of thing. So the way to heal these naturally is we decompress. We gently pull on the spine traction, so to speak, of the spine if we can create some negative pressure inside there, then it vacuums the disc back into where it needs to be. 

Now a lot of people they think vacuum, they think something pretty aggressive. This is so gentle decompression has to be very, very comfortable, and relaxing in order to be effective. If you pull hard thinking that’s going to do better, and there are some people who believe that more is better. If this much is good, more is better. Well, not the case with herniated discs. See, discs are compressive tissues. They’re made to sit between bones and withstand weight. And so to decompress them, all we need to do is create some negative pressure inside. And that allows for that jelly center to retract or vacuum back into position. And then we use our laser therapy to heal the injured area over and we can basically fix herniated discs 50% faster than we used to without the advent of laser.

Interviewer [16:10]: Wow, it actually sounds relaxing to me, I automatically thought oh, down in the dungeon with a big you know, and in the movies. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [16:18]: On a rack, right? 

Interviewer [16:19]: Yeah. No. So it’s nothing like that? 

Dr. Ward Wagner [16:21]: Not at all, we put people on this and for many people, it’s the best relief they’ve felt in a long, long time, it just feels good to be decompressed. And then that laser therapy is just a warm, you know, it feels like all you’re getting is deep heat. But it’s so much more than that. It’s so much more than just a heat pack on your back.

Interviewer [16:43]: So how does this relate to serious injuries? You’ve got the bulging discs you’ve got the herniated discs?

Dr. Ward Wagner [16:52]: How does that relate to? Well, muscle guarding, okay. So let’s say it’s one of those… Well, what people get into is a vicious cycle, okay.

Interviewer [17:01]: I was going to say it seems like it would be a good thing, the muscle guarding would be a good thing, but then you kind of wonder if it’s causing pain is… 

Dr. Ward Wagner [17:09]: Right. 

Interviewer [17:10]: I don’t know.

Dr. Ward Wagner[17:10]: That’s exactly right. Exactly, that’s why it’s so confusing for people. Because the muscle guarding that you feel okay, let’s say that that disc did have a fresh bulge that just occurred. Somebody was out in their yard lifted something heavy out of position and blow out their back. Okay, so now they got this bulge. That initial guarding of the muscles is a good thing still because it’s going to protect from further injury. However, we’ve got to heal the disc getting the disc pulled back into position, and working better. At the same time, though, we still have to fix that muscle guarding or movement disorder because if we don’t fix that, they’re going to blow it out again because that same thing that’s trying to protect also makes them move in irregular pattern.

Interviewer [18:02]: In a strange way. Okay.

Dr. Ward Wagner [18:03]: Yes. And that’s hard on joints. Joints are made to move in certain ways in order to be healthy and to be strong. And when they’re moving incorrectly then, yeah, problems occur. And so that’s what I’m talking about vicious cycle it’s kind of which came first the chicken or the egg. In most cases, it doesn’t matter which came first if they both exist, we got to address both in order to fix it.

Interviewer [18:27]: Well, I think automatically about people that work physical labor and doing landscaping or dishwashing or serving, I mean, you see a waitress zipping around with these heavy plates and things, platters and you think, wow, if they can’t get fixed right away its constant…

Dr. Ward Wagner [18:46]: They’re going to be in trouble.

Interviewer [18:47]:Right. Even playing tennis, I mean, you go back and my dad is a pickup ball king and he, boy, he won’t stop. Well, they’re counting on me. That’s my team. And if he’s hurt, he’ll still go back out there. Not a good idea. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [19:00]: Right. Right. 

Interviewer [19:01]: He’ll have to see Dr. Wagner, I guess.

Dr. Ward Wagner [19:04]: Yeah, depending on what we’ve got going on. It’s true. People need and want to live their lives. They want to play, they want to work, they want…  And so most injuries that people have minor things will heal up just fine. And typically, people go on but on occasion, that’s typically what I see in my office. I really do see more of the more serious injuries and the more complicated injuries. And that’s what we try to work through is get to the root cause of what’s going on to help them get better.

Interviewer [19:40]: I’m curious now I’ve got kids. I’ve got a little gymnast that seems to you know, she always has an injury. We joke about putting her in bubble wrap. How do you feel about kids coming in when they’ve been injured and being able to help them?

Dr. Ward Wagner [19:56]: The great thing about laser is that it’s good for anybody of any age. It doesn’t hurt growth plates. Basically, there’s no age limit on this whereas the previous, more ancient therapy that we used to use for this similar kind of conditions is ultrasound therapy but you can’t do it over fractures, you can’t do it over open growth plates. Whereas with light energy, with laser you can it’s totally safe. In fact, we use it over fractures as well.

Interviewer [20:34]: And what other treatments can our listeners expect, other options maybe that you have that you can offer when they come in?

Dr. Ward Wagner [20:42]: We’ve got virtually everything natural happening in our office within the physical therapy and chiropractic world. So we have our laser decompression we’ve talked about. We’ve got Calmare therapy, which is for neuropathy.

Interviewer [20:54]: That’s huge, right?

Dr. Ward Wagner [20:55]: Yes, we have your typical ultrasound, muscle stem, mechanical traction. We have our four massage therapists. We’ve got an acupuncturist. And an actually just kind of letting the cat out of the bag, we actually, have now a master esthetician. So people are even getting health rejuvenation by taking care of hair in areas that are problematic.

Interviewer [21:07]: And that’s huge. That’s a big deal as well. Wow. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [21:23]: It is.

Interviewer [21:23]: Okay, once again, Dr. Ward Wagner, Dixie Chiropractic, you know, head on over to the website at so much information there. And Dr. Wagner is offering today for our listeners $99, an evaluation two laser therapies, and a massage all of that package deal, which is a great opportunity 10, North 400 East. The number to call is 673-1443. And we’ve been talking about laser and decompression.

Dr. Ward Wagner [21:55]: Right. And post muscle guarding laser and decompression. So, many times when people have that serious injury we talked about and there’s muscle guarding accompany it, many times, either the muscle guarding gets better, or the disc gets better. But now there’s still pain happening. And we need to discover why is this still going on? How come this person isn’t fully resolving. Now with laser and decompression, we are addressing disc herniations and disc bulges. And the thing that needs to be discovered when I am assessing someone who comes in with this condition. 

See I get a lot of people come in and they bring me their disc of their MRI that shows their bulge or their herniation. And I look at that and I go okay, great. I know where it is of course because that nerve pain is going down the back of your leg I already knew it was L five too. So really, the MRI hasn’t told me that much. It’s given me an image of what’s happening. But it doesn’t tell me why. It doesn’t answer the why question at all. And so I go through my series of tests because what I want to discover is which avenue is going to be most effective in treating this. 

Is this because of an old muscle guarding problem or movement disorder? Or is this a stabilization problem, in other words, a core problem? Or is it just a compressive disc issue? Okay, typically, most cases will fall within two of the three categories. So you could have a compressive disc problem with a movement disorder. Or you could have a compressive disc problem with a stabilization problem.

Interviewer [23:36]: Either way, you’re in pain. And you need to get it fixed.

Dr. Ward Wagner [23:37]: Either way you’re in pain. And we address all of them. 

Interviewer [23:41]:Okay.

Dr. Ward Wagner [23:42]: So yes, once we find out what categories they fit, now we can take them down that road and get them better.

Interviewer [23:49]: Excellent. Once again, your Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner Dixie Chiropractic located at 10, North 400 East. The number to call is 673-1443. And Dr. Wagner has generously offered for $99 an evaluation, two laser treatments, and a massage for all of you listeners. And, boy, if you’ve been in pain, Dr. Wagner gets it. And he’s the one to go and see also head on over to his website at because it’s a very user-friendly website can answer many of your questions before you give them a call and, boy, if you’ve had an injury. We’re glad to have you today and give us more explanation.

Dr. Ward Wagner [24:35]: Thank you. It’s been great to be on the show.

Interviewer [24:37]: Okay, and today we were talking about muscle guarding.