Dr. Janet Travell: The First Female Physician In The White House

DR. MARK KESTNER, Post Columnist
Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2008 6:47 am

I first became aware of the work of Dr. Janet Travell as a result of studying the effects of what are known as “myofascial trigger points.” Trigger points are small, often painful nodules in muscles. If you have them, you may call them “knots”.

Travell researched these knots extensively. She literally wrote the book on trigger points. Her two-volume exhaustive text about trigger points (co-authored by Dr. David Simons) pioneered a new treatment approach that has helped millions. She was well into her 80s when the first volume was released, and more than 90 years old when the second volume premiered.

It was because of her work with trigger points that Travell ended up in the White House. In 1955, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy was referred to Travell after failing to respond to two back surgeries. Kennedy had suffered from disabling back problems for years. His surgeon arranged for treatment with Travell. He found her approach so helpful that he continued to receive treatments from her weekly.

When Kennedy was elected President, he appointed Travell to the prestigious position of personal physician to the President. No female and very few civilians had ever occupied this position. More…