When she's talking about what sometimes ails the human body, those aches and pains we wake up with or feel during the day, Dr. Amy Spoelstra compares it to the check engine light in a car.
When that light turns on as you are driving, you know something is wrong. Something is not functioning properly. There are very few people who would stick a piece of duct tape over that check engine light and pretend everything is OK. Yet, many people live with aches, pains, and even serious health concerns in this manner. They "tape over their check engine light" by just ignoring the issue or taking a pill to whisk away the symptoms for a short time. The problem is, until a mechanic gets under the hood to solve the root problem, no piece of tape or pill is going to fix it for you.
Welcome to Spoelstra Family Chiropractic.
The Coeur d'Alene healthcare business employs five, not including Amy and husband David, and opened just over four years ago.
Along with chiropractic care and integrated therapies for ADD/ADHD, they offer massage therapy, nutritional and wellness classes, fundamental healthcare classes, and free Pilates sessions for patients at the Kathleen Avenue office.
She believes firmly in her field, what she does, and how it can help people, young and old.
"I feel we are making a big difference in this community," she said. "We're helping many families and many children. And it's not enough. We will always convey our message to anyone who is willing to listen. There are too many people out there that need this information so they can make informed choices. People need to know there's more to this healthcare story."
"It's not my responsibility what you do with that information, but it's my responsibility to get that information to you so you can make an empowered decision."
What led you to work in this field?
I struggled with my health as a child. I was sick a lot. My brother and I were both on a lot of medications.
My parents did a great job and they did what they thought was best at the time. We were pretty heavily medicated, so there were many health challenges, ear infections, antibiotics, and even surgeries. When I got to maybe 14 or 15, I started to realize that the path I was traveling down wasn't right and wasn't working for me.
So, do you oppose medications and surgeries?
I want to make it clear I'm not against medications or surgeries. They serve a great purpose when necessary. They seem to be more of a "sickcare" (reactive) system as opposed to a healthcare (preventative) system to me. We need to do everything we can to support our body's natural function and therefor allow our bodies to express health optimally. Then, if we need the help of medications or surgery, we have a system we can utilize. If you don't take care of yourself before the medications and the surgeries, you end up with medications and surgeries as your only options. It doesn't have to be that way. It all starts with prevention.
The premise of Chiropractic is that the body is self-healing and self-regulating. We know this is true. If your get a paper cut, your body knows exactly what to do to heal that cut. You don't have to consciously think about the cut all day long for it to heal. We also know that the master controller of the body is the nervous system. What we do is look for interferences within the nervous system and correct them in order to let the body get back to doing its job! Your brain communicates with every organ, tissue, and cell you have. When there is interference happening that stops those messages, you end up with big problems down the road.
So when did you find out about chiropractic care?
I started to realize I wasn't really functioning well. I wasn't getting healthier, I was getting sick more often, and I was stuck in a pattern. I started to be interested in the idea that the body is capable of healing itself and thinking about what I could do to encourage my body to heal. That sparked my interest in the more holistic healthcare field.
I didn't know anything about chiropractic and I didn't learn about chiropractic until I was a freshman in college. When I heard about the premise of chiropractic I knew it was for me. What chiropractors do is look for interference within your nervous system and eliminate it, allowing the body to function as it was designed.
And you work with toddlers to adults?
Yes, of course! Everybody has a nervous system. We all do things that stress the body physically, mentally, and emotionally. You wouldn't believe the stress on the spine of an infant during child birth, so you see that it starts the second we enter this world. Those stresses cause subluxations in the spinal bones. Subluxations interfere with the nervous system messages going back and forth from the brain to the body. We look for those, eliminate them, and do everything we can to return the body to its self- healing and self-regulating state. Subluxations can be present when you're an infant or 99 years old.
Do you treat specificsymptoms, like back pain?
We can certainly help you with back pain, but we don't treat symptoms. We look for subluxations, correct them, and let the body do the healing. We look for interference that restricts the nervous system information. Symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and low immune function have been shown to improve dramatically when subluxations are removed. This is why many people seek out chiropractic care to improve their overall quality of life and not just for specific symptoms. If your symptom is pain, your problem is what's creating that pain.
What else can affect us?
What you are eating, what you are doing outside of what your body was built for, and even what you are thinking. We're not made to drink sugary sodas all day. We're not made to sit all day. Many of us are not equipped to manage huge emotional stresses.
I like to describe this as a pyramid. The foundation of the pyramid is Neural Efficiency (removing subluxations from the body).
The second level has to do with what you are putting in your body (nutrition). The third level has to do with what you are doing with your body (exercise), and the top is what you are thinking? Do you have a positive mental attitude? Thoughts and mindset are a very important component to health. We help our patients in all of these areas so they can reclaim their health instead of becoming sick.
What would you say your goal is?
Most people don't know where to go. They don't know where to start or where to find information about their health. My goal, my purpose, is to empower families in this community to really understand that their bodies are made to be healthy and they can avoid getting sick. There is a simple, safe, and highly effective method ... chiropractic.
Do you see a chiropractor?
Once a week! I see Dr. Bill Higgins, Dr. Tim Grothman, and Dr. Swayze.
I'm friends with many of the chiropractors in town and I am helping start a group for local chiropractors.
We get together once a month and bring in speakers from all over the world. The goal is to help unify our profession, provide support in everyday practice, and become more on the same page.
How do you work with a new patient in the door?
Before you can do anything, you need to know the problem. We start with an exam and consultation which includes screenings and tests to determine the problem, figure out what sort of care is needed, or if we need to co-manage with another healthcare provider. Our job is to find the best care plan possible for every person who walks through our doors.
If you came to me and said, "I'm having headaches, or I'm having neck pain, or I feel tired all the time," we'd talk about that. That's like a check engine light in your body. That's your body telling you that there is a problem. We want to evaluate the different systems in your body and determine why this symptom is happening. We are not looking to treat the symptom; we are just looking for inference within your nervous system. If we find that interference, we remove it and allow the body to regulate and heal as it was designed.
Do you think you're making a difference and getting the word out about your profession?
Yes, I would like to think so. I really do. Being here four years, we've grown and expanded and have been able to help many families in this community. We made a difference when we helped our first family! You never know how far reaching that will be!
What's the best part of what you do?
I enjoy seeing the children especially when there's a big shift in their pattern of health and I know that we have changed that family. You cannot describe the feeling of watching someone, whether a child or an adult, stop having to live with something that has been plaguing them for years of their life. Too often those people look to chiropractic care as a last resort, but end up finding their solution in chiropractic. That's a very common occurrence. It's amazing what can happen when you remove nervous system interference.
How about most challenging?
I think that the most challenging is caring for people so much and working with so many people that it gets difficult to manage it all at times. I could sit down and chat with any one of my patients for a very long time, but I have to make sure I get to the next, and the one after, and so on. There is a challenging balance to find.
Some people say, they don't want to go to a chiropractor because once they do, they'll have to keep going. What do you say to that?
There are so many misconceptions out there about chiropractic, that's the one we hear the most. The thing is, the way to address that, it's not something you have to do. Once you understand why you're doing it, once you understand what it's doing for your body, and how that helps improve your life, most people choose to add chiropractic care to their healthcare routine. It's not ever that you have to keep going; it's that most people choose this as part of their healthy lifestyle.
How many times would someone need to be treated?
Everybody is different. It depends on what's going on. If somebody has had a subluxation for 30 years we might have to dig them out of a hole. They're going to need to be seen a little more frequently in the beginning and then we taper it off over time. Most people choose to include chiropractic and a healthy nervous system into their life as one of the components of their health care regimen, like brushing their teeth or exercising.
That might mean you come once a month or it might mean you come in once a week. I choose to get checked once a week. I don't have back pain and I don't have headaches, but I get checked once a week.
Can you talk about your latest program?
We are a SHINE certified facility in the Dr. Ed Hallowell program and we have created an extension of Spoelstra Family Chiropractic that specifically works with adults and children with developmental and behavioral challenges. Particularly sensory integration challenges which often have the diagnosis of ADD or ADHD or have patterns of being impulsive, hyperactive, inattentive or exhibit unexplained under productivity.
This integrated therapeutic approach has three components: Neural efficiency (how well the brain is communicating with the body), Neurological integrated movements (looking for specific strengths and weakness in the brain function) and a metabolic shift component which will be addressing nutritional stresses and deficiencies.
This is a strength based approach because we do not want to diminish the strengths of these individuals.
We want to isolate the specific areas of deficiency and improve upon them, therefore elevating the whole in an integrated and drugless approach.
It's a 90-day program and it's going to be fantastic. We are combining 3 different therapeutic approaches that have been proven to work and creating an integrated approach so we can get the most developmental improvement across the board in the shortest amount of time without the use of medications.
What's your hope for visitors to your office?
When people come to this office, we want to empower them, and we want to love them. We want people to feel loved and cared for when they walk through our doors. We want people to know this is a place where we can help them get on the right path to health and healing.