HOUGHTON - In cases where traditional medicine isn't sufficient to address muscular or skeletal pain, many people turn to chiropractic medicine.
Chiropractors predominantly manipulate the spine to correct misalignments such as scoliosis, and symptoms such as neck pain and lower back pain.
Phil Pietala of CoreWellness Chiropractic and Natural Medicine in Houghton said his chiropractic patients will typically come in for a 20-minute session, which can include manual adjusting as well as whole body vibration and microcurrent therapy.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Phil Pietala of CoreWellness Chiropractic and Natural Medicine in Houghton stands in a patient room. Patients usually come in for a 20-minute session
How often a patient comes in will vary. In the case of an acute lower back problem, they might come in four or five times within two weeks, Pietala said. However, his average is about once a month.
"A lot of times we'll leave it up to the patient," he said. "As soon as we're done with their condition or their goals or met, then we'll discontinue care until they want to start again."
In microcurrent therapy, low-level electrical currents are applied to enhance healing for problems such as muscle spasms. The whole-body vibration system can be used to increases strength and flexibility.
Pietala demonstrated the system, changing the rate of vibration to show how it affects muscle strength. At a slower pace, the subject's right arm was better able to press against a countering force; with the frequency turned up, the muscles were able to offer less resistance.
"This one is not good for your nervous system, but at the slower frequency, it turns on all these muscles," he said. "So that would actually strengthen the nervous system, make those muscles stronger, increase the energy of the person."
Pietala opened his practice at the start of December. He was introduced to chiropractic adjustment as a Michigan Technological University hockey player, when he went to David Hill of the Family Chiropractic Center, where Pietala's practice is now located.
During his first year at MTU, Pietala also got introduced to functional medicine, which involves the use of high doses of nutrients to combat chronic disease.
"I saw them as blended together," he said. "You can't really have good back health if you don't have good organ health ... it just gave me another layer of things to address if someone's back pain doesn't improve with an adjustment."
Pietala will do manual muscle testing to determine which nutrients to give to a patient, as well as blood, saliva and urine labs. The most common problems Pietala sees with his functional medicine patients are anxiety, depression, fatigue or food allergies.
Pietala said about 50 percent of his clients respond well enough to traditional chiropractics that he doesn't need to move on to functional medicine.
"I typically will try the structural version first, just because it's faster and most patients are used to that type of care," he said. "If it doesn't respond to that type of care, we get into, 'Why not?'"
Ages of the patients range from a few days to 90 years, Pietala said. But he's found that what makes a person healthy doesn't change much over time.
"It's all the same, whether you're trying to perform better athletically, or you're a newborn, or you're an elderly person, all those things still apply," he said. "The technique will differ, but the treatment is very similar."