Full of tense muscles and tight joints, Dennis Marburger was a self-proclaimed mess.
On a recent November morning, he sought solace from Dr. Natalie Spagnola, owner of Harmonic Balance Chiropractic, LLC.
She used office space at White Rose Family Chiropractic in Springettsbury Township to release his tension, stretch his muscles and adjust his bones.
"When I first met Dr. Natalie, I would grimace every time I reached for a cup of coffee," said Marburger, a Stewartstown resident. "I had a very severe frozen shoulder."
A doctor had recommended steroid therapy, but that wasn't an appropriate long-term solution, Marburger said. So he sought chiropractic care, and after visiting Spagnola every two weeks during the last three months, he has noticed an improvement.
"It took three or four adjustments before I really felt a big difference with the pain in my shoulder, but almost instantly I had a better range of motion," he said.
Marburger is one of the patients in Spagnola's growing clientele. For the last few months she has been using office space at Lotus Moon Yoga in York City and White Rose as she builds her business and scouts locations for her practice.
For now, Spagnola has been serving York County patients as a roving chiropractor, telling her story and treating the problems of men, women and children who walk through her door.
Inspired: A 2005 graduate of New York Chiropractic College, she was inspired to enter the profession because of her own health problems: Spagnola has scoliosis and was injured in a car accident during her early 20s.
"I had physical therapy and medications, but they made me feel like a zombie. I didn't have real relief until I saw a chiropractor," she said.
That life experience and penchant for helping others served as the catalyst when she traded her psychology major for her current path in the medical field.
As a patient herself, she knows the best approach to wellness is a total-body effort, Spagnola said.
"It's about lifestyle changes -- nutrition, sleep, hydration, fresh fruits and veggies, eating more organics and avoiding white sugars and flours," she said.
Whole-body ap proach: Her advice makes it feel like she really cares about her patients, said Brian Lenker, a Dover resident who has been receiving treatment from Spagnola since August.
"She takes a whole-body approach," he said. "Within the first month of coming, I noticed a difference in my lower back issues."
Lenker, an accountant, had pain in his lower back due to a stressful job and long hours sitting in front of a computer.
"I'm unleashing the fury of stress," Spagnola said, as she adjusted his lumbar region during a November visit.
Stress typically increases foot traffic at chiropractic offices during the holiday season, she said.
"The night before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve are always so busy because people have so much stress in their lives. There's so much stress to get everything done on time and have it be perfect," Spagnola said.
People also get stressed about seeing or hosting family, she said.
"Any kind of stress affects the nervous system," Spagnola said. "Emotional stress can affect your health and cause stress and pain in the body."
Advice: She said a few tried-and-true pieces of advice can help protect the body during the hectic season: Try not to carry too much on one side; lift packages and heavy items with bent knees and a straight back; and try not to clench muscles while behind the wheel and stuck in traffic.
And remember to laugh, Spagnola said.
"Laughter is good medicine," she said.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.