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Fixing backs and a whole lot more

NORTH LIBERTY— He may look young and unseasoned, but don’t let that fool you. He’s been preparing for and learning his trade for almost half his life.
At the age of 25, Dr. Joe Stevens, DC opened the door to his Stevens Family Chiropractic practice in the Beaver Kreek Center in North Liberty three months ago. The Rochester, Minn. native decided to return to his family’s roots in the Solon, Iowa City and West Branch area when he was looking for a place to open his first practice. A 2011 graduate of the Northwestern Health Sciences University College of Chiropractic, located in Bloomington, Minn., where he specialized in the Gonstead Technique (named for its founder, Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead), Stevens said he knew from the age of 16 what he wanted to do.
In his early teenage years, Stevens saw a chiropractor for treatment of sports injuries. However, the treatment also all but cured other physical ailments he had such as asthma.
“The chiropractic care took care of more than just my pain, and I decided it was pretty cool and something I wanted to be involved in. I knew what I wanted to do and started taking classes (in high school, toward college credit).” With a goal in mind and a purpose to his studies, Stevens endeavored to get done as quickly as he could.
Dr. Stevens has a BS degree in human biology followed by three-and-a-half years of chiropractic schooling, which earned him his Doctorate in Chiropractic (DC). Currently he is licensed to practice in both Minnesota and Iowa. But North Liberty was his first choice to hang out his shingle.
“I always loved North Liberty,” he said. With family in the area, he visited the community a lot, particularly for special events like Blues & BBQ. “It was an easy decision.”
The doctor hopes clients will find chiropractic care an easy decision as well.
While the most common complaint he hears involves back pain and headaches, increasingly he is seeing patients who complain of acid reflux, kids with bed wetting issues and even ear infections. Stevens explained that when the spinal column is out of its proper alignment, the vertebrae press against or otherwise irritate nerves branching out from the spinal cord, affecting various organs and body systems, which then malfunction. By putting the spine back into alignment, such adjustments can restore the nervous system to normal functioning, thus returning the body’s systems to a state of normalcy.
“I’m always amazed knowing how chiropractic care helps with the nervous system,” he said. Despite the benefits of competent chiropractic care, Stevens is quick to give credit to the human body and its ability to repair itself. “I’m just a part of it, the body is pretty smart.”
The doctor said there seems to be an increase in the number of people seeking out chiropractic care. He sees this as a good sign that chiropractors are getting the message out.
But there are some who are either hesitant to make an appointment and be evaluated, or who are skeptical of chiropractors. “They’ve heard (negative) things from others, or they don’t know about us and what we do. We as a profession maybe haven’t done a very good job of getting our message out in the past,” he said. ”Oonce people get in here, and they see what we do, and we get talking…it makes sense to them.”
Education for Stevens doesn’t just refer to own training and on-going continuing education, but also to communicating with and explaining to his patients what is going on, and what can be done about it. “Education is huge in my office. It’s vitally important that we’re both on the same page.” The doctor said he wants to ensure the body is working correctly and wants to work with the patient to lay a foundation that will correct behaviors over time. Having patients who understand and follow the plan greatly improves treatment success and their overall lives.
Regarding his own education, Dr. Stevens is currently pursuing additional certifications in pediatrics and is a graduate of the Academy of Chiropractic Philosophers from Sherman College of Chiropractic. Stevens is also seeking to become a diplomate in Chiropractic Philosophy through the International Chiropractors Association (ICA).
He knows he’s waging an uphill battle. “Everybody is bombarded with information; everybody has lots of resources for information.” Stevens realizes they also have a lot of questions and that it is good to have a reliable source to go to. Part of the bombardment includes a barrage of advertisements for a variety of medications, with the catch phrase: “ask your doctor about…” Stevens believes a non-pharmaceutical intervention like chiropractic may be of better benefit, particularly through the Gonstead Techniques he employs. The doctor said only two percent of chiropractors practice this particular method; every chiropractor is different. Some rely more on mechanical means, others use more dramatic manipulations, leading to the phrase “get your back cracked.” The Gonstead Technique starts with a complete medical history and a full set of spinal X-rays. The X-rays give Stevens a visual picture of the area of concern and shows how it affects other areas. Stevens likens the spine to the foundation of a house: if one part is off, it will have ramifications throughout the rest of the structure.
“Everybody thinks I’m a ‘back doctor,’ but actually I focus on the nervous system.” From the X-rays, he gets very detailed measurements which leads to a plan of action. Follow-up X-rays document the progress and track changes in the spinal structure.
“We get people past the symptoms phase, and they come back for checkups to make sure they’re still on-track.” Each adjustment builds on the next, he said. “It’s almost like working backwards. We start with a certain area– the chief complaint– and then get that area functioning right, while looking to the cause, which may have occurred decades before.”
Stevens said he takes very specific steps to find and correct not only the problem, but the underlying cause with the ultimate goal of getting the body back to working like it’s supposed to.
Dr. Stevens purposefully placed the word “family” in the name of his new practice, because he sees lots of pediatric patients and often an entire family will come in for a variety of treatments. Stevens is a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) and has a specialty in children’s chiropractic care. Kids, with all their activity, often set the wheels in motion for needing care later as an adult. “A lot of little bumps and bruises add up over time,” he pointed out.
“But, if we can address what’s going on at an early age, we can prevent problems later on. It’s pretty cool how it works.”
Trying to find a way to pay for chiropractic services should not be a deterrent, according to Stevens. While all insurance plans are different, the doctor said patients have many options including private pay plans that could actually end up cheaper than going through insurance. “We try to keep things as affordable as we can. My goal is to help as many people as possible.”
Stevens Family Chiropractic is located at 225 Beaver Kreek Center, Suite B. To schedule an appointment, call 319-626-2006 or email joe.stevens.dc@gmail.com. Dr. Stevens’ website is http://www.stevens-family-chiropractic.com and he can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StevensFamilyChiropractic.
“The most important thing,” the doctor said, “is getting people the care that they need.”