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Today's Family Magazine

Are you suffering from chronic pain?

Feb 27, 2017 11:42AM ● By Today's Family

Tom Ockler

By Deanna Adams

When it comes to health issues today, many are seeking more options for getting help, and for a number of reasons.  And relief from pain—without prescription drugs—is top priority.  “People are looking for alternative answers to pain because they are sick and tired of taking drugs,” says physical therapist, Tom Ockler, founder of Alternative HealthCare Solutions.  “We all know about the epidemic of opiate addiction, and that’s often caused from prescribed post-operative pain medication that patients can’t get off of.”

Ockler explains that if pain lasts for more than three months, it’s chronic pain.  “And that means the nervous system is changing the way it views the problem and ramps up the excitability of the nerve, and becomes unrelenting.  So while the idea of pain medication after surgery makes sense, you have to trail it out and let the nervous system not get dependent on the pills.”

That’s why he set himself on a course toward an “alternative/non-traditional solution.”  A classically trained physical therapist and hospital administrator for 11 years, Ockler didn’t agree with the therapy methods hospitals were using and felt it wasn’t working to the patients’ benefit.  “I didn’t like that the care was much more about income than outcome.  By outcome I mean the end result, getting to the root of the problem, correcting the cause, not just treating the symptom.”

After leaving his position at the hospital, he set out to find an alternative method for pain relief that didn’t involve manipulation.  “When you manipulate someone, it may give temporary relief, but it’s not a complete cure.  It is also very risky. You stand a chance of doing neurological harm, or could even possibly kill them.”

After completing a course on muscle energy technique (commonly called MET), he decided to open his own practice and call it, Alternative HeathCare Solutions, a specialty clinic that sees patients with chronic pain or dysfunction that doesn’t improve with traditional intervention. “MET is a very effective manual technique and is completely safe,” he explains.  “Using almost no pressure, we allow the neuromuscular section to make the corrections.  So instead of forcing a bone back into its rightful place, you get the muscle to assist the bone to go back.  When I saw how that can be done, there was a tremendous change in outcome with my patients.”

He says that because he does not accept privatized insurance, he is able to work a full hour on each patient, rather than having to squeeze in at least three in that time.  He does, however, accept most Medicare and workers’ compensation insurance. His initial evaluation and treatment is $200 for the hour, and $150 for subsequent visits. 
“The whole premise is to educate the patient, so they understand what exactly is going on with their body. The cost of service is actually cheaper because I don’t mess around, we get to the problem fast.  I don’t chase pain, I look for the cause and correct it, so you’re not invested in therapy for months on end.  I’ve discovered that if you give better, quicker, and more permanent solutions, people will tell others.  So word-of-mouth is still my best advertisement.”

He adds that he takes on a holistic approach, looking at the body as a whole, which includes proper nutrition.  “There are foods that literally inflame the body, and can be a cause for increased pain.”

A staunch believer in his methods, Ockler teaches seminars to physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic therapists, and other physicians who want to know more about his techniques.  He also has several YouTube videos to give pointers for those suffering.

“Many of my patients are those who have tried everything, been everywhere, and done everything they’ve been asked to do, and still aren’t getting better.  I want to be the one to help them.”

Alternative HealthCare Solutions is located at 36200 Euclid Avenue, Ste.#5 in Willoughby.  For more information, see his website,, or call 440-918-0836.