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The New Healers

Eating right might clear up the chronic-fatigue syndrome but not resolve a nagging knee problem from an old skiing injury. Some wealthy New Yorkers are so enamored of their chiropractors that they regard them as their chief source of medical advice. Chiropractor Wayne Winnick is one whose healing abilities have reached legendary levels. He calls what he does "holistic orthopedics" and says the best doctors should be as familiar with how the Incas treated pain as they are with the best modern surgical techniques. His clients include Condé Nast editorial director James Truman, fashion photographer Bruce Weber (who calls Winnick "truly a Dr. Feelgood in the natural kind of way"), entertainment lawyer (and Paul McCartney's brother-in-law) John Eastman, Claudia Cohen, and Ron Perelman -- to name a few.

Winnick defines holistic orthopedics as "anything to do with the body you can find a way to treat accurately without drugs or surgery." His practice isn't limited to traditional chiropractic methods. "The essence of our success is using all the modalities," he says. "We do trigger-point therapy, transverse-friction technique, active release work. It's like taking a steel ball and knocking down a building. Once you make the tissue changes, they are permanent. Once treated, they are cured, and they do not come back."

Winnick, 43 and a New Jersey native, was schooled at the New York Chiropractic College. He has done postgraduate work in sports medicine and back pain at Harvard and also studied in China, where he learned Eastern methods for dealing with orthopedic conditions. His treatment of scar tissue, for example, comes from Chinese medicine, in which, he says, the first thing treated after surgery is the scar.

Most of his clients come in for sports-related injuries, knee pain, chronic pain, and accident-related problems. "I do a lot of knees before surgery," he says. "I will put someone on a 30-day trial, so this way we can't say we didn't exhaust everything before surgery."

"He gives you hope, and he gives you results," says TV personality and Ron Perelman ex-wife Claudia Cohen. "Orthopedists invariably give you the same old stretch-and-ice advice; he understands pressure points. He gets tremendous satisfaction out of seeing his patients get better -- and believe me, so many of his patients have been all over the lot for years looking for help, once they come to Wayne, they never go anywhere else."

Joseph Weger, massage therapist to Ashley Judd, Blaine and Robert Trump, makeup artist Pat McGrath, and others too fabulous to list, makes house calls with his "essential healing oils" stashed in a black fanny pack. He arrives at my apartment talking about how Nostradamus's apocalyptic predictions probably mean New York City is a goner around the stroke of midnight of the last day of this year. He totes his foldout massage table and oils, charging $175 for an hour and a half of trigger-point, deep-tissue massage using aromatherapy. He and his clients believe the combination of oils and his bodywork have preventative health effects, and that he can relieve sinus conditions, vertigo, and even prostate trouble.

Weger is short and stocky, with huge forearms and hands, a Marine haircut, and the body of a gymnast -- which he was as a teen. Now 39, he took up massage therapy in the early nineties, studying first in California at the Institute of Psychostructural Balancing in Santa Monica and later at the Swedish Institute in New York.