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Our History

Challenging Conventional Chiropractic

In a career that has spanned more than half a century, Dr. Burl Pettibon has been unrelenting in demanding that chiropractic deliver on its promise: provide health care that enables the human spine to maintain its optimal structure for normal function. His first challenge to the profession took place as a student at Cleveland Chiropractic College.

"I realized that there was no model of a 'normal' spine. With no optimum normal or optimum spinal position, there are no origins to measure from. To quote Jack Welch, a former CEO of GE: 'One can't prove, disprove or improve that which one can't measure.'"

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. Pettibon established a model of the optimum upright spine and procedures for taking, marking, and measuring x-rays so abnormal spinal form can be measured and treatment effectiveness assessed.

In 1988, Dr. Pettibon was honored for his work as the recipient of the Daniel David Chiropractic Scientific Award. But despite more than thirty years of practice, he couldn't put aside doubts about whether chiropractic produced permanent spine and postural change.

 

Putting Conventional Chiropractic Procedures 'To The Test'

In 1991, Dr. Pettibon came out of a third retirement and moved from his home in Gig Harbor, Washington to South Carolina to partner with the late Dr. Vern Pierce and determine 'the truth' about chiropractic clinical procedures—theirs as well as all the others.

They rented an area of the Sherman Chiropractic College clinic building for their research. There, Dr. Pettibon and Vern Pierce used the dissection laboratory and students willing to be 'subjects' for their experiments.

They studied both normal and aberrant motions of vertebrae and areas of the spine that were misaligned —usually by trauma—using a video fluoroscopy x-ray machine with a twelve-inch intensifying screen. They also used an in-line x-ray machine with self-centering head clamps so they could repeatedly take pre and post-treatment x-rays to measurably determine the effectiveness of various procedures and techniques. An x-ray digitizer enabled them to compile the measurements and data that was generated from still and motion x-rays as well as from other experiments.

 

Our Findings

Two and one-half years later, their research at Sherman and later at Palmer Davenport and Life East, invalidated conventional chiropractic procedures:

Attempts to adjust/manipulate vertebrae into different positions, whether into misalignment or alignment, worked on cadavers and other inanimate objects but did not make any lasting corrections in living people and whatever was attempted made a person's spine measurably worse.

In addition, they discovered how chiropractic students—about 100 from Palmer and Life—who entered college with x-rays showing normal or near normal lordotic cervical curves, on comparison x-rays taken at the end of their schooling, had abnormal military or kyphotic necks, and most had spinal pathology.

 

Reinventing Chiropractic & Patient Care

It wasn't enough for Dr. Pettibon to identify what didn't work. So he moved to Garland, Texas, after purchasing a clinic, to take what he learned from his research and apply it to developing new procedures and equipment. In 1996, with the fundamental 'reinvention of chiropractic' complete, Dr. Pettibon moved back to his home in Gig Harbor.

 

Physical Therapy & Patient Care

Around 2010 during some research by a Physical Therapist on SI and degenerative disc disease she discovered the spinal rehabilitation work of Dr. Pettibon. She worked closely with several doctors to put together a therapy solution that has helped thousands of patients suffering from SI pain and degenerating spinal discs. Her patients have experienced great relief from both the in clinic and home care protocol.

 

Our President

Sharon Freese-Pettibon has been President of Pettibon System, Inc. since 1993. Sharon started her career in the chiropractic field in 1971 as a Chiropractic Assistant and then worked as a Chiropractic Technician for seven years. In 1987, Sharon formed Innate, Inc., to provide staff training and practice development consulting services to Pettibon practitioners. Over the course of her career, Sharon has set up 12 chiropractic clinics.


Sharon received X-ray Technician Training and Certification from Western States Chiropractic College in 1984. In 1996, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Sciences, Magna Cum Laude with High Distinction and Honors, from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

“We have an unwavering passion to help you become the best practitioner that you can be. Our goal is to enable you and your staff to reach new levels of success in delivering patient care while simultaneously maximizing the efficiency and profitability of your clinic. We look forward to serving you!" - Sharon Freese-Pettibon

"Sharon's depth of understanding of how The Pettibon System gets put into practice in combination with her business acumen is an extraordinary resource. And she makes sure that know-how is packaged into every product and service." - Michael L. Milasich, D.C., Tacoma, Washington

"Sharon should receive an award for her contribution to advancing the role of paraprofessionals in chiropractic. She's also the ultimate role model." - Thomas M. Andrews, D.C. Mesa, Arizona

Sharon’s journey with chiropractic began in 1971 when she first visited a chiropractor by the name of Dr. Burl Pettibon.  A skeptic to chiropractic, she listened to his report of findings and saw the difference between her kyphotic S-curve x-rays and what was normal.  The doctor explained all the things she needed to do and she gave him all the reasons why she couldn't afford to do it. He said, 'It's not me that's hurting. It's not me that's sick.' It wasn't what she expected; however she did what Dr. Pettibon prescribed and two weeks later was eating solid food for the first time in three months, her bleeding ulcer was starting to heal and she was beginning to feel better.

Sharon was so convinced in the healing capabilities of Chiropractic that she began working for Burl in the clinic learning everything she could.  Totally fascinated with chiropractic, she started studying the art of Chiropractic, working for Dr. Pettibon until 1974 when she moved to Hawaii.

Shortly after the move she had a surfing accident and was paralyzed on the right side. Sharon was flown to Trippler Army Hospital, where they told her she would need to be in a cervical brace for six months and prescribed a lot of medication.  Her response to that was, “Put me on a plane to Dr. Pettibon, and I'll be fine.” In three visits the paralysis was totally gone and she was able to return to Hawaii with her health intact.

While in Hawaii, Sharon started taking pre-requisite courses for Chiropractic College and continued to take courses when she moved to Arizona in 1977. Three years later when she moved to Vancouver, Washington she started working for Dr. Paul Phillips. During her seven years in his clinic she received x-ray Technician Training and Certification from Western States Chiropractic College.

In 1987 Burl and Sharon’s partnership began and she also started Innate, Inc. to provide staff training and practice development consulting to Pettibon practitioners. When Burl made the decision to move to Spartanburg, South Carolina to partner with the late Vern Pierce and determine 'the truth' about chiropractic, Sharon was the project manager for Burl's part of the research project.

Together the Pettibons have been a great blessing to thousands of people around the world who have permanently corrected their spine and posture because of Burl's dedication to making chiropractic a true science and inventing products to support it. Dozens of doctors, on the verge of leaving the profession, have reclaimed their calling because of the understanding and protocols which is now known as The Pettibon System.

At an age when many colleagues have long been retired, Burl tirelessly continues to teach, conduct research, invent, and embrace change. This extraordinary dedication and the vision of helping millions who suffer with back pain, is what drives Sharon’s pledge to have 'Pettibon live in perpetuity!'"