It’s been a little over a decade since I put up the sign that said “Blue Mountain Family Chiropractic” and opened for business. The early days were slow, but necessary as I set out to slowly build a foundation and stumble through the business aspect of the practice, as well as mature both personally and professionally. It’s nice to look back and know I’m past all that, and I’m looking forward to the future as I continue to learn and grow from all of my experiences.
Being a solo practitioner in private practice, and a so called “alternative medicine practitioner” at that, has been rather interesting.
Even though a significant amount of my graduate education covered “wellness” (nutrition, lifestyle), my focus was on muscle and joint related pain and injuries. After all, that’s what got me into the field. I hurt my back in high school and was helped by a chiropractor (Dr. Dreher), and I was into sports, so helping people fix their injuries from sports and recreational activities was high on my list of what I wanted to do. So, I came out of school learning all I could about fixing those issues and figured that is what I would see most in my practice.
Fast forward a few years after graduation… I saw my fair share of sports injuries, auto accident injuries, etc. as one would expect a chiropractor would see most of the time. However, it wasn’t most of the time. It wasn’t even a majority of the time. It was maybe 1 in every 7 cases. What were the other 6? Chronic conditions. Some were fairly straight forward and responded quickly to the usual care (click here for description of standard treatments in my office). Others were more complicated, often times related to issues that weren’t purely just mechanical muscle or joint related problems. They were related to the person’s nutrition, lifestyle, caused by auto-immune issues like RA, etc. More on that later.
The interesting, challenging, and sometimes fun thing about being a chiropractor is that there’s almost a folk lore type of mystery surrounding us. To some people, we’re just charlatans, quacks. To others, they’ve heard some “things” about us that make it sound like we’re witch doctors or miracle workers. The latter has probably influenced a good number of people to show up in my office as a last resort. “Well, I’ve tried everything else and you guys are supposed to work some sort of magic, so here I am.” This has been both a blessing and a curse. A curse because I have seen a lot of people with some really odd or severe conditions, and a blessing because I had to figure out what to do with these people and learned a lot from it. Some I had to turn away immediately because I knew there was nothing I could do, but for others… in taking the time to really study their situation (remember, I had a lot of time in those early years), I knew there were some things I could investigate or do that their other health care providers didn’t. It forced me to do a lot of reading and gain a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in various disease processes.
So, first and foremost I would like to say thank you to everyone that put enough trust in me in those early days to give me the chance to try and help you. I was 26 when I graduated and had to grow out my facial hair just so people would stop asking me if I was “what, 19 years old?”. I’d like to say sorry to those people that I couldn’t help. In some of those cases I didn’t have the skills or experience to do so. In other cases… not all things can be healed. In either of those two situations it still does not sit well with me. It’s always the people that aren’t helped that push myself and other good health care practitioners to continually try to improve, and I’ve done what I could to do just that.
One of the more effective procedures I learned and added was Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) AKA “the scraper.” Click here for what that’s all about. This treatment intervention is effective and efficient, cutting down the number of times I had to see people by well over half, and helped fix some things that other providers and treatment methods could not. Functional Movement Systems helped too. Actually, even joining CrossFit and eventually becoming a power lifter gave me quite a bit of insight on how to treat various joint and muscle problems as well.
Given all of the above… my formal education, experience in those early years, “the scraper,” functional movement, power lifting… I could probably stick with what I’m doing now and be more than capable of addressing 80% of the problems that’ll walk through my door. Things like carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, arthritis, and sciatica are a relatively easy fix for me nowadays (if I can brag for a second). But as I mentioned, it’s those other 20% that just eat away at you.
The 20% is what has encouraged (forced?) me to dig even further into methods/approaches. About 3-4 years ago, doing so brought me back to the nutrition and wellness subjects of my education. Specifically, it brought me to something called functional medicine. I’ll write up an entire post on that topic alone, but in short, it’s the health care approach that examines and analyzes a person’s basic physiological functions in order to make changes and recommendations to strengthen the health of the individual, vs. traditional medicine that often address either the end stage dysfunction or symptom of those underlying problems.
So, if you’ve been in to see me recently and noticed I’ve been a little more vocal about trying fish oil, turmeric, having your vitamin D levels checked, asking your family doc about doing this or that test… that’s where this is coming from. I’ve been noticing more and more people voicing frustration with their health. “My blood work is great, but I feel like crap,” is a common theme I’m hearing of more often. For some of those people that I know well, I’ve offered to help and do testing and make recommendations. The ones that follow the recommendations… things change and improve.
It’s taken me a few years to really gain the confidence in both Functional Medicine as a system of health care and myself using this system. I probably hear at least a few people every month in our health food store ask if we know of any local Functional Medicine practitioners. In my head I say, “ME!,” then just give them a website where they can locate the ones found near Philly or Allentown. That’s going to change. Now that I have confidence in the system, and now that I’ve organized my practice procedures and my time to accept cases under this program, I will be accepting people interested in this program.
So, so what? God bless you if you’re still reading this, and I’ll get into why you should care about any of what I have just written. Not much will change about what I do now in my established role as a chiropractor that helps people figure out why they’re having joint and muscle pain. The scraper is not going anywhere. I’ll still adjust your spine and tell you to drink more water and exercise. However, in addition to that, I will be taking on Functional Medicine cases. My goal is to work on the foundations of health and wellness and help people improve their health over the long term.
Even if a one on one Functional Medicine program doesn’t interest you, I hope I can offer something. I will be more active on this blog than I have been lately. It is my goal to put out content to help share as much of the knowledge I have gained over the years regarding health and wellness. I’m in the biz, so I often take for granted how much some of these concepts are familiar to me. Then, I talk to either my patients or people I meet in public and realize, much of this information is not common sense like it should be. People are hurting, they’re suffering, they’re sick… and in some cases, a fairly simple solution could be just a few small changes away. Some of this is also me being a little selfish. I realized that this is what I love doing most. I love hearing from people, and not just patients of mine but random Facebook friends, that they read an article I posted or tried something I recommended and it totally changed their situation. I want more of that.
In addition to putting out more content here on my blog, I also want to reach people offline as well. I realize not everyone has a Twitter feed so they can receive my blog updates from @DrTouchinsky. So, I’d like to get out there and do more talks so people understand that there might be something more they can do for their health issues. If you belong to a group that might benefit from this information, get in touch with me and we can talk about setting up a time for me to come and present.
So, since I’ve been all over in this post, I’ll summarize.
- Thanks to everyone that put their trust in me over the years to help them with their health issues.
- I’m still your chiropractor. Joint and muscle pain, headaches, etc. I’ll continue to do my best to help those issues.
- Follow this blog and or my Twitter feed for free content that will focus on helping people improve their health.
- Contact me if you want me to come and speak to your group.
- If you’re having issues that require individual one on one help, contact me and I’ll send you more specific details about the Function Medicine Program. Due to the complexity of some cases and the time that goes into working with someone, I can probably only start up a few new cases a week. So, it may take a few months to get in as a new Functional Medicine patient. Start the intake process and get your information to us ASAP to be added to the wait list. Cases will be taken in the order that people complete the intake process.
Contacts can be made through this form by clicking here. All messages go directly to me.
Your’s in health,
Buddy Touchinsky, D.C.
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