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An alternative approach: chiropractic care, massage

Monday, Aug 1, 2011

It doesn’t take long to tell that Dr. Amanda Vaden and Jennifer Wilson have a great relationship.

Even a spilled soft drink at the end of a long day draws a good laugh as well as some light-hearted ribbing.

The two are partners at Serenity Health, a chiropractic and massage center in Cookeville. The two alternative medical practices work hand in hand and in many cases, patients will see them both on the same visit.

Chiropractic care

Vaden said chiropractic care has been around for a long time and became more popular in the 1800s.

“We don’t heal the body, we help it heal itself,” said Vaden. “We approach the body as a structure. Our function is to do what it is supposed to do.”

Vaden works with a wide variety of patients, including younger people. In fact, one of her focuses in school was pediatric chiropractic care. But she also treats people who have issues like diabetes where she can help make them “more comfortable.”

It also is used for people who are overweight. She said helping those people relax assists them in having more interest in exercise.

“If you are not feeling good, you are not going to exercise,” said Vaden.

Vaden said her list of clientele is varied and includes entire families. She said the majority of her patients are females because, in her experience, it is generally the females who choose the medical providers. However, she also said many of the females refer their spouses to chiropractic care.

The age range of her patients, too, is varied. She is currently helping a baby who is six months old and was born with regurgitation issues. Her oldest patient is a woman in her 80s.

The types of issues Vaden deals with is also varied. She helps a lot of people with back pain but also has many patients with shoulder issues, assists with feet issues, helps with wrists and much more.

“As long as there is a joint and it can be moved, we can move it,” said Vaden.

She also works with athletes and has “kinisiotape” certification, which is a process that helps relieve pain. Golfers, too, are a big clientele for Vaden.

She originally worked at Green Hills in Nashville, the largest chiropractic clinic in the state. Vaden said she worked with players from the Tennessee Titans as well as with some country music stars.

A native of Monterey, Vaden came back to this area after having a child. She worked at another local office but then joined with Wilson and formed Serenity Health.

“Business is good,” said Vaden.

One issue involved with chiropractic care is that it’s “not always pain free,” said Vaden. “If a disc is out of place and has to be adjusted, it’s going to hurt.”

However, she works hard to be as gentle as possible when dealing with areas of the body where she knows it can hurt. (That’s where having a massage therapist in the business comes into play.)

When dealing with chiropractic procedures, Vaden said the basic premise is that “joints are supposed to move.” However, sometimes they “don’t move anymore.” Vaden then attempts to fix the non-moving sections.

One of the biggest issues, said Vaden, is the fact people “train their bodies to do wrong things.”

A great example of that is the simple fact people wear shoes. People were not intended to wear shoes and doing so can cause feet to get out of place. People sitting at computers all day are doing something unnatural and that can cause joints to get out of place.

Another issue which arises when it comes to chiropractic care is legitimacy. Vader says she knows that has been a stigma but encourages people to “do lots of research.” She said chiropractors are “very educated” and have to do “extensive boards” in order to be certified by the state.

She also said they work closely with medical doctors because some patients might require medical care.

“My first goal is not to harm anybody,” said Vaden. “We do referrals and we are extra cautious. We are not in competition.”

In fact, Vaden said medical doctors are “more accepting” of chiropractic care and even make referrals to Serenity Health.

“Alternative treatments have grown in popularity,” said Vaden, adding the majority of her clients are repeat customers. “They get very attached.”

She added that chiropractic care can help in many ways, from better performance at work to helping on the golf course to improvements in sexual functions. Vaden also said she is part psychologists, counseling people on issues ranging from diet to lifestyle.

“We wear many hats,” said Vaden.

She also sees other chiropractors in the area to get adjustments.

“I practice what I preach,” said Vaden.

Vaden, who became a licensed chiropractor in February 2007, had her own interesting story in choosing the profession.

Since the age of 13, Vaden suffered from migraine headaches and no treatments seemed to work. But she continued on and was going to college to become a medical doctor specializing in pediatric care. But in her junior year of college, Vaden said the headaches “got bad.”

So bad, in fact, it impacted her schoolwork. “I could barely function.”

Her college roommate told Vaden about her aunt, who was a chiropractor in Kentucky. She talked to the woman and “got adjusted,” which resulted in no headache for two weeks. After the second visit, it was a month.

She immediately left college and enrolled at a chiropractic school in St. Louis, going on to get her degree and enter the profession. She has no regrets.

“I love what I do,” said Vaden. “I can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Vaden believes many people are living “with unnecessary pain” and that “it doesn’t have to be that way.”

She also said that chiropractic care is now covered by many insurance providers. She encourages someone thinking about getting the care to check their policy.

Massage therapy

Once you get out of the hands of Vaden, your next stop is likely just down the hall and the gentle hands of Wilson, a licensed massage therapist. You’ll experience low lights and soothing music during the massage.

Wilson says massage therapy involves helping the muscles.

“Muscles can contract and muscles have memory,” said Wilson.

For instance, if someone is at a desk job working at a computer all day, there can be buildup of adhesions, causing pain.

“By breaking up all that, you can get back to normal,” said Wilson.

Wilson said she has seen an increase of patients who work at computers and also believes stress contributes to muscle pain.

Her treatments are 30 or 60 minutes and include soothing music to make “a relaxing atmosphere.” She added that “each patient is different” and the goal is to get muscles to relax to ease pain.

Wilson has been working as a therapist for close to six years. Prior to that, she worked as a surgery tech but wanted a change of careers after having three children.

She was also happy to be able to partner with Vaden in the business, which is located at 212 S. Jefferson. They felt it was a natural relationship and it has worked out well, with the customer base increasing each year.

Wilson said there are times when a person might need Vaden’s service, and other times they only get a massage, depending on the situation. She laughs when asked if Vaden is the “evil” one and Wilson is the “nice” one by easing the pain.

“I make it all better,” she grins.

Wilson said the “key” to massage therapy is “in the hands.” There are different strokes to release the muscle fibers, she said.

“Most of it is touch and knowing the fibers,” said Wilson.

She, too, works with medical doctors and said a couple of area physicians are regular massage patients.

Like in the chiropractic field, Wilson said one of the main problems is that muscles have memory and when they are in the wrong place, it can be painful. And also similar is the clientele, which is wide ranging in age as well as occupations.

“We get it all,” said Wilson.

She also has a lot of repeat customers, sometimes booked three weeks to a month in advance. “They keep coming back.”

She said massage is also covered by many insurance carriers and encourages customers to check it out if they think it might be a good alternative. And like Vaden, Wilson, too, gets massages. She does a “trade out” with another local massage therapist.

Massage, said Wilson, can be a good alternative to pain medication.

“We want to fix their problem instead of medicine,” said Wilson.

For more information, you can call Serenity Health at 931-854-1799.
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