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Chiropractor takes holistic approach to healing

As a chiropractor, Chad Messina encounters his share of skeptics. “Patients will tell me, ‘I don’t believe in chiropractic, as if it’s a religion,” says the Marlborough-based practitioner. “But it’s not a matter of belief, but having the structures of the body – the joints, bones, and muscles – in the right place.”

Chiropractic (from the Greek words, chiro, meaning hand, and practic, or practice or operation), is a natural healing profession that is projected to have a 14 percent increase in employment through 2016. “People are more open-minded about chiropractic now,” says Messina, who runs Messina Family Chiropractic. “It’s a therapy option, something other than popping pills or having organs removed from the body. I’m not saying that these are not required, but you can try a less invasive method first.”

Messina received his bachelor’s degree in athletic training from University of Nevada at Las Vegas, taught high school biology, and then decided he wanted to do something else. He considered being a physician assistant or physical and occupational therapist, but chose to beecome a chiropractor after sitting with a practicing chiropractor and watching him work. “I saw a patient who came in and completely doubted the chiropractor’s ability to heal. But when he was done with the treatment, she got up, stood, and moved around without pain. I saw the look of shock on her face. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a chiropractor.” Requirements for a chiropractor include licensing, two to four years of undergraduate education, the completion of a four-year chiropractic college course, and passing scores on national and state exams.

There are at least 20 different chiropractic techniques, from using an activator, or a rubber-tipped instrument that manipulates the body, to applying the vibrations of an ultrasound to reduce inflammation. Messina swears by the Active Release Technique, which manipulates not just the bones but also the soft tissues of the body. “I apply precisely directed tension as well as ask patients to do very specific movements. It’s a very hands-on technique.”

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Q: What sort of conditions do you treat?
A:
Patients come into the office with different ailments, from plantar fascitis, headaches, carpal tunnel, sciatica, and rib pain. I check to see if there is a injury or condition in the muscles or bones. If it’s something I can’t treat, I tell them to see an MD, massage therapist, or refer them to a specialist.

Q: Can you share a story about someone that you’ve helped?
A:
A 14-year-old girl came in with chronic hip and lower back pain. She had a list of doctors she had seen at Children’s Hospital, and none of them were able to help her. I determined that there were issues with her lower body. I also asked her if she also had headaches. She was shocked, because she hadn’t mentioned the two to three headaches a day that she was getting. Now she only gets one headache a month, usually only after she plays sports.

Q: You see babies as well, for problems like Torticollis, which is a crooked neck condition. How do you treat that?
A:
The babies need to be put in the correct position and then stretched out. Obviously at this age you use much less force and no thrust. You don’t want to fight a baby and the way they want to move.

Q: Do you see a chiropractor yourself?
A:
Yes, I go for adjustments. I played Rugby and have quite a few neck issues, so I see a fellow chiropractic for that. It helps me a lot.


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