Breast Implant Illness

Breast Implant Illness & Treating Chronic Pain Centrally

CF 201: Breast Implant Illness & Treating Chronic Pain Centrally

Today we’re going to talk about breast implant illness and then we’ll talk about chronic pain and new research around treating it centrally vs. peripherally.  But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music  

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OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around.  We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.   If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

  • Go to Amazon and check our my book called The Remarkable Truth About Chiropractic: A Unique Journey Into The Research. It’s a great resource for your patient education and for you. It saves time in putting talks together or just staying current on research. It’s categorized into sections and it’s written in a way that is easy to understand for practitioner and patient. You have to check it out. Just search for it on Amazon. That’s the Remarkable Truth About Chiropractic by Jeff Williams. 
  • Then go Like our Facebook page, 
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  • Review our podcast on whatever platform you’re listening to 
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You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #201 Now if you missed last week’s episode, we talked about the state of chiropractic through ChiroUp and Chiropractic Economics. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. 

On the personal end of things…..

Last week, you heard me mention spending time in Chicago at the American Council of Chiropractic Consultants and Chiropractic Forensic Sciences conference. I also mentioned getting to hang out with Dr. Michael Massey and talked a little about who Dr. Massey is and what he does. What I failed to mention is that he and Dr. Rob Pape, together, started a practice management group called Practice Mechanics. Along with that, they have a Practice Mechanics podcast and they had me on as a guest recently.  It was a lot of fun and it was me answering questions rather than asking them. It was really just a great conversation about the profession, this podcast, the book I recently released, my future goals, and all kinds of other goodies. Go to the Practice Mechanics podcast and pull the trigger on episode 10. Then sit back and laugh at my dumb answers!  It really was a great conversation and I was fortunate to have Mike and Rob bring me on and lead me through it. These last couple of months have truly been a whirlwind. As mentioned, I was just in Chicago.

At the beginning of September, I was in Washington DC.  In August we integrated with the nurse practitioner. Late August we got an intern from Parker College. Future doctor Drake Gardner from the Tulsa, OK area. Good dude with a bright future. Then, about early September our new patient per month count exploded and rose back to where it was back before the Rona invaded our lives. In fact, I broke a record. We had somewhere around 85-90 new patients in September. In just one week I had 31 new patients. By myself. And I do a thorough exam. It’s not one of those vitalistic  “live and die by the subluxation” knock down the high spot exams.

It’s not one of those exams oh crazy Chiro out in Oklahoma that tries to teach others to do like 9 new patients exams and 99 patients in 3 hours with one table. Durrr.

It’s one you would expect from an Ortho Diplomate.  Anyway, the point is not to brag but to say damnit…., I’ve been cooking. And cooking hot with gas. And also to discuss what happens when you get so busy you are running the risk of not being able to keep up.

When your schedule is full I have been told you need to either hire help or raise prices to thin the herd. How do we feel about that? I don’t know. I’m a capitalist. I don’t like turning away business. But I’m also empathetic. I don’t want to price myself out of the market and I don’t want people to wait a week to come to see me.

And….it’s only been this way for about 4 weeks. Who’s to say it’ll be this way in six months? I could hire someone and they stop piling in and then I’m screwed.  The safer bet is to raise prices a touch. You can always backtrack that by simply putting them right back where they were.

But here’s what’s going to happen. Nothing.

I’m going to be overworked and half crazy for a while until I am 100% clear that the surge in business is here to stay. Then I’m going to try to hire an associate. And I’ll be overworked like crazy until that happens. So work work work is on my horizon. I will try my best to continue this podcast as long as I can.

Right now, I’m having to type it up on a Saturday night because I simply won’t have time during the week. We’ll see how it goes. Right now, my commitment to pumping new episodes out every week is strong. I’d offer a Patreon page and maybe try to generate some income from the podcast itself but guess what? I don’t have time!! Lol.

This all sounds doom and gloom but it’s all good. I’m blessed. I hope you are blessed as well. Griping about busy makes a guy feel guilty. But I’m not griping about being busy. I’m griping about being overwhelmed and having no time to do the things I need to do every week outside of hands-on patient treatment.  That’s really what it comes down to. So stick with me. I’ll keep doing what ai do and we’ll see what comes of it, my friends.

What I do know is that I appreciate you all. Your time and attention to this podcast make it worth every second. That all turned out a little fussier than I meant. I’m usually very positive and I am positive. I’m just sharing what’s going on. I think I’m in a transition period basically. These points that stress us force us into change. My responsibility is to make certain that the change is positive and productive. 

Let’s dive in!

Item #1

The first one is called “Assessment of Silicone Particle Migration Among Women Undergoing Removal or Revision of Silicone Breast Implants in the Netherlands” by Dijkman et. al. (Dijkman HBPM 2021) and published in JAMA Open on September 20, 2021 and that’s a lotta hot!

First, if you don’t know anything about this topic, I think you might be shocked. 

Secondly, let’s talk about why I would include this paper on this podcast.

What does silicone breast implant leakage have to do with us as chiropractors? Well, one of my Facebook friends was openly discussing silicone leakage and illness and how she was getting her removed, and what a miserable time she had been having recently due to this leakage.  I’d never heard of this being an issue so I started looking into it a bit. While some older research was pretty meh about it all, more recent research has shown an association between silicone breast implants and certain autoimmune diseases.  Healthline says, “These studies suggest that silicone breast implants potentially raise your risk of developing an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, scleroderma, and sarcoidosis.”

They also add, “The World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have identified another possible  This relates breast implants to a rare cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Additionally, breast implants are known to cause other potential risks such as:

  • scarring
  • breast pain
  • infection
  • sensory changes
  • implant leakage or rupture”

In addition to what Healthline shared, the body of this paper says, “Breast implant illness is used to describe various complications associated with silicone breast implants, ranging from brain fog, hair loss, fatigue, chest pain, sleep disturbances, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, chronic pain all over the body, and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and fibromyalgia.” How many of these people do we see every day? So, it’s been on my radar way out on the periphery and when I saw this paper come through JAMA recently, it made sense to put it on your radar screens as well. How many patients do we have that could potentially be going through this and just never made the connection in their minds?

Why They Did It

To evaluate the existence of silicone gel bleed and migration over a long time period, including the period in which the newer cohesive silicone gel breast implants were used.

How They Did It

  • It was a single-center case series, 
  • Capsule tissue and lymph node samples were collected from women who underwent removal or revision of silicone breast implants from January 1, 1986, to August 18, 2020
  • Data were extracted from the pathological reports and revision of the histology if data were missing. 
  • All tissues were examined using standard light microscopy
  • A total of 365 women had capsular tissue removed, including 15 patients who also had lymph nodes removed, and 24 women had only lymph nodes removed. 
  • Exposures  Silicone breast implants.
  • The main outcome was presence or absence of silicones inside or outside the capsule. 
  • 389 women with silicone breast implants

What They Found

384 women (98.8%) had silicone particles present in the tissues, indicating silicone gel bleed.  In 337 women (86.6%), silicone particles were observed outside the capsule (ie, in tissues surrounding the capsule and/or lymph nodes), indicating silicone migration.  In 47 women (12.1%), silicone particles were only present within the capsule.  In 5 women (1.2%), no silicone particles were detected in the tissues.  Patients were divided into 2 groups, with 46 women who received cohesive silicone gel breast implants and 343 women who received either an older or a newer type of breast implant.  There were no differences in silicone gel bleed or migration between groups 

Wrap It Up

In this case series including women with noncohesive or cohesive silicone gel breast implants, silicone leakage occurred in 98.8% of women, indicating silicone gel bleed, and in 86.6% of women, migration of silicone particles outside the capsule was detected.  We did not see differences in silicone gel bleed or migration between women who received the newer cohesive SBIs and those who received noncohesive SBIs. So, now it’s on your radars and this info could give you another avenue toward helping your patients get out of pain. 

Item #2 Our last one today is called, “Effect of Pain Reprocessing Therapy vs Placebo and Usual Care for Patients With Chronic Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial” by Ashar et. al. (Ashar YK 2021) and published in JAMA Psychiatry on September 29, 2021 and it’s bringing the heat! They say, “Approximately 85% of cases are primary CBP, for which peripheral etiology cannot be identified, and maintenance factors include fear, avoidance, and beliefs that pain indicates injury.” I talk to my patients every day all day about beliefs, hurt vs. harm, and fear avoidance. 

Why They Did It

To test whether a psychological treatment (pain reprocessing therapy [PRT]) aiming to shift patients’ beliefs about the causes and threat value of pain provides substantial and durable pain relief from primary chronic back pain and to investigate treatment mechanisms. PRT seeks to promote patients’ reconceptualization of primary (nociplastic) chronic pain as a brain-generated false alarm. PRT shares some concepts and techniques with existing treatments for pain rand with the cognitive behavioral treatment of panic disorder.

How They Did It

  • This randomized clinical trial with longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and 1-year follow-up assessment was conducted in a university research setting from November 2017 to August 2018, 
  • There was a 1-year follow-up. 
  • Clinical and fMRI data were analyzed 
  • The study compared pain reprocessing therapy with a placebo treatment and with usual care in a community sample.
  • Participants randomized to pain reprocessing therapy participated in 1 telehealth session with a physician and 8 psychological treatment sessions over 4 weeks. 
  • Treatment aimed to help patients reconceptualize their pain as due to nondangerous brain activity rather than peripheral tissue injury, using a combination of cognitive, somatic, and exposure-based techniques. 
  • Participants randomized to placebo received a subcutaneous saline injection in the back; participants randomized to usual care continued their routine, ongoing care.

What They Found

Of 151 total participants, 33 of 50 participants (66%) randomized to PRT were pain-free or nearly pain-free at posttreatment,  That’s compared with 20% randomized to placebo  And 10% randomized to usual care.  Treatment effects were maintained at 1-year follow-up

Wrap It Up

The authors concluded, “Psychological treatment centered on changing patients’ beliefs about the causes and threat value of pain may provide substantial and durable pain relief for people with chronic low back pain.” This is why the American College of Physicians included cognitive behavioral therapy in their recommendations for first-line treatments for chronic back pain. You can have all of the issues you can imagine present on an x-ray but the main culprit resides in the noggin.  Ever heard of phantom limb pain? The pain lasted so long that the pain migrated more and more into the central, pain making part of the brain too.

They finally chopped off the peripheral problem; the limb. But it still hurt. They got rid of the peripheral source but did nothing to address the central source. THAT’S what we talking about when we mention the biopsychosocial aspect of pain. It’s no longer just a biomedical approach or issue. It’s much more when we talk about chronic pain. And it’s fascinating. 

Folks, it’s about the up-regulation or sensitized central nervous system in chronic pain patients. It’s about their beliefs about their current and future abilities. It’s about fear avoidance. It’s about de-conditioning. It’s about not understanding the difference between hurt vs. harm. It’s about them being mind screwed by healthcare practitioners that didn’t understand how to properly and optimistically relay findings and a diagnosis to them.  It’s about building them back up. 

Alright, that’s it. Keep on keepin’ on. Keep changing our profession from your corner of the world. The world needs evidence-based, patient-centered practitioners driving the bus. The profession needs us in the ACA and involved in leadership of state associaitons. So quite griping about the profession if you’re doing nothing to better it. Get active, get involved, and make it happen. Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week. 


Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at   

Purchase Dr. Williams’s book, a perfect educational tool and chiropractic research reference for the daily practitioner, from the Amazon store TODAY!

Chiropractic evidence-based products

Integrating Chiropractors

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The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots. When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few. It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disability and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient. And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health!

Key Point:

At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints…. That’s Chiropractic!


Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes.  Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on podcast platforms.  We know how this works by now. If you value something, you have to share it, interact with it, review it, talk about it from time to time, and actively hit a few buttons to support it here and there when asked. It really does make a big difference. 


We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.



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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Fellow of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger  


  • Ashar YK, G. A., Schubiner H, (2021). “Effect of Pain Reprocessing Therapy vs Placebo and Usual Care for Patients With Chronic Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Psychiatry.  
  • Dijkman HBPM, S. I., Bult P, (2021). “Assessment of Silicone Particle Migration Among Women Undergoing Removal or Revision of Silicone Breast Implants in the Netherlands.” JAMA Netw Open 4(9).