Gone are the days, and many of the jokes, about chiropractors being quacks. They have found their way – thankfully so – into the mainstream medical arena.
From the Greek for “hand” (cheir) and “done” (praktos), the manual healing “done by hand” is not as old as many medical practices. Everything, it seems, can be traced back to ancient times, but the first notable chiropractic adjustment in the U.S. is credited to Daniel David Palmer in 1895. He also established the first chiropractic school. Today, there are almost 20 chiropractic colleges accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education, officially recognized in 1974 by the U.S. Department of Education.
Chiropractic care is a regulated healthcare profession in all 50 states, requiring strict education and performance standards to be licensed. “While spinal manipulation continues to be a centerpiece of chiropractic care, modern chiropractors have developed a variety of practice styles, featuring different therapies and modalities, to address patients’ needs. They practice a holistic approach to health care that generally excludes drugs or surgery.” [American Chiropractic Association, acatoday.org]
More than 70,000 licensed chiropractors practice across the country seeing and adjusting an estimated 35 million people each year. It was first included in Medicare in 1972, and as of 1999, chiropractic care is offered in all U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities.
“I became aware of the profession when I was 25 years old working in sales for Foot Levelers,” relates Dr. Christopher Belluzzo. The chiropractic orthotic firm in Roanoke was founded in 1952 and designs custom footwear which aims to reduce lower back pain and align the entire body for optimal overall health. “I was rear-ended one morning on my way to work and developed whiplash and lower back pain. I was treated by a chiropractor, and the results flipped on the light in my head to pursue this career track.”
Dr. B had to get some heavier science courses under his belt to complement his bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Virginia Tech, class of ’97. Fast forward through 3 ½ years at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota, and he opened his practice in Blacksburg in 2008 three days a week while keeping a side job. The business grew, the side job fell away, and 15 years later, Dr. B is renovating his South Main Chiropractic space, sandwiched between Gourmet Pantry and Blacksburg Books. “It’s a top-to-bottom refreshing, plus converting the open bay to private treatment rooms. New paint, new skylight panels and rearranging things will offer more services to patients with increased efficiency,” Dr. B explains.
Dr. Jacquie Keats always knew she would be in a medical field. After discarding surgeon, ER doctor and pharmacy school, she discovered chiropractic care through a friend who was dating one. So, she found a job in a chiropractor’s office. “I liked how hands-on it is, plus it’s never boring. It embraces a different way of looking at health and healing, like find the root cause, fix it and not mask anything with medication,” she states.
After graduating from Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas late in 2002, Dr. K moved to Blacksburg because her sister Ashleigh was recruited by Virginia Tech for the track and field team. “I love the area, and it reminds me of the small town in Canada where I grew up,” she adds. Dr. K has worked in a couple chiropractic offices in the area starting in 2003, with a break for giving birth to twins in 2007. Her private practice now is Keats Family & Sports because family and sports are very important to her personally and professionally.
Game On ~ Hands On
“Diversified technique is the primary hands-on adjusting method most people are familiar with. Additional approaches have been developed utilizing specialized tools, techniques and adjusting tables. We’ve incorporated aspects of five of these adjustment skills into the practice in order to provide a wide range of care for a wide range of cases,” Dr. B explains. It’s a real hands-on job that requires very sensitive fingertips. While the chiropractor is adjusting a patient, he needs to be aware of not overstressing his hands or developing repetitive stress injuries, perhaps becoming a patient himself.
Dr. K found in her early years of practice she spent a lot of time educating patients on the importance of chiropractic care, sometimes more time than actually doing the adjustments. “I am very hands on, not only with my adjusting, but also tissue and muscular system treatments. I recommend exercises and stretches my patients can do at home to advance healing and give them the quality of life they deserve,” she says. A sign in her office reads: “It’s About Quality of Life”.
There are many great chiropractors in the New River Valley, and they do not perform in a bubble. Some get referrals from healthcare professionals, patients and friends, and chiropractors will refer patients for x-rays, medicine or additional medical care when they encounter a problem beyond their sphere of influence.
There’s an adage that goes: There are two worlds – the one before chiropractic and the one after. This writer has lived in both of them and much prefers the latter.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Tom and Christy Wallace