Cassie Hurley came to Dr. Cynthia Durakis with The Healing Tree in April with pain in her neck and shoulders and her fingers tingling. "Now those are great." She has returned recently with pain in her back.
Durakis asks, "were you on your feet a lot last week?" Hurley works events so she can be on her feet a lot and also sitting a lot at her desk. Durakis has Hurley lie on her stomach on the exam table. She starts the appointment with an evaluation. "Do you feel better?" Durakis places her hands in the small of Hurley's back. She has Hurley lift each leg backward at the knee. "I am looking for misalignment that could be affecting function."
Durakis tests to make sure Hurley's muscles are nice and strong. "The good thing is we can prevent some things before they happen. The body will manage dysfunction for a long time without any full blown issues."
Durakis is primarily a chiropractor who uses chiropractic adjustment to help people restore normal function. Most people come to deal with pain. But she explains if the soft tissue, the internal visceral health isn't working, she also does nutritional counseling. She says it can be tricky about nutrition. Things aren't black and white. Individuals don't necessarily react the same way to different foods.
"I'm helping heal people from the inside out." But she adds that she is also a coach. "When I graduated, I thought I just go make an adjustment, but I learned there is a lot more to it than that."
Hurley says, "it is a little tender here, but it's really bad there." Durakis asks, "Are you wearing the custom orthotics?" Hurley says about half of her patients use them. "I wear them myself." Ideally you should wear them most of the day."
"Are you walking every day? In these boots? Can you wear your sneakers back and forth to the bus? I can tell your hip is better than last time."
Hurley says, "I always feel better when I leave."
Kristen Brasseaux is next. She has been coming for about three months for really severe tension headaches and shoulder and neck pain. Brasseaux explains she has had a sort of crazy week with the unexpected death of her husband's co-worker in a crash. Everyone has been dealing with it.
"Go ahead and lay face down on your stomach." Durakis says, "My job is to normalize the mechanics of the spine and help the nervous system adjust. Less is more when you make an adjustment."
"Take a deep breath. You are very tight in the neck." But with all of the tension of this last week Brasseaux has not had one of her tension headaches. She says, "This is huge."
Durakis says, "You are managing it better now. You are more equipped."
Brasseaux is a graphic designer who sits at a computer all day. She has made adjustments in her posture and equipment. But she adds that she is studying nutrition and wants 100 percent to go that direction.
Durakis asks, "Have you stopped sleeping on your stomach?"
Brasseaux says, "Not sleeping on my stomach is so much better than I thought it would be."
Durakis explains that your sleeping position is almost as important as your sitting position. When you sleep on your stomach you have to turn your neck to breathe."
Durakis says she has patients of all ages but, "you attract what you are." She says there are a lot of women in her age group who are menopausal struggling with transition, gaining weight, hot flashes. She finds that most women around here in Del Ray want to age with energy and stay active.
She says it takes a commitment from the patient to work with her and not everyone has it. "Some people just want me to fix it, like giving an aspirin."
Durakis was headed to be a lawyer. "But I talked to female attorneys. They were unhappy, working 80 hours a week." Coincidently, her parents were seeing a chiropractor and "a light bulb went off. The patients were so pleased to be there."
Durakis had been part of a group practice on Prince Street in Alexandria since 1994 and has been a sole practitioner at the Healing Tree on Mount Vernon for four years.