New Health Chiropractic’s New Chapter

by | Nov 1, 2023 | 0 comments

  • New Health Chiropractic’s Dr. Rich Merrion showing off the fashionable eyewear needed while performing MLS Laser Therapy.

Growing up in Indiana, Dr. Merrion was a high school athlete, swimmer, and diver. He attended the University of Indianapolis for two years before transferring to Indiana University. Although he started college as a pre-med student, he decided after his first four years to go a different route. He spent 11 years in the environmental industry before returning to school. After exploring several options, he chose to pursue chiropractor school based on his positive firsthand experiences as a student athlete.

After graduating in 2007, Dr. Merrion ran a chiropractic practice in Naperville, IL for over a decade. While his husband pursued a career opportunity in Wisconsin, Dr. Merrion pursued his own next chapter. He purchased his own practice in Fitchburg and opened New Health Chiropractic in November 2017. Over the years, the practice has grown to offer both integrative and regenerative medicine, and has a nurse practitioner and medical doctor on staff. Recently, Dr. Merrion relocated the business to a new and larger facility at 2690 Research Park Drive in Madison, which will facilitate future growth, service offerings, and expanded access to care.

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As New Health Chiropractic & Integrated Healthcare celebrates its grand reopening, we spoke with Dr. Rich Merrion about his vision for holistic, inclusive, and intentional care.

What does your care model offer that traditional health care providers might not? 

The traditional health care system is set up to care for the sick. We have a great trauma care system. We have great life-saving systems for people who are severely injured or seriously ill. But they’re not wellness care systems. They deal with the symptoms until the symptoms go away. I’m looking for the cause of the symptoms. I want to understand why this is happening. Through chiropractic care, we don’t cure your pain by giving you a pain reliever and sending you home. We cure the pain by finding out what caused the pain. If it’s pressure on a nerve, we try to alleviate that pressure. If it’s a muscular or postural dysfunction, we look to cure that dysfunction. Traditional health care providers are just not prepared to offer anything more than surgery or medicine.

I also practice functional medicine, which is focused on what you’re putting into your body. What foods are you eating? What supplements are you taking? Are you having digestive issues? For example, if you have acid reflux or GERD, traditional medicine will give you an acid blocking drug to relieve the symptom. But you’re still producing too much or too little acid. So, I’ll collaborate with that patient to find out what’s causing this and what will correct it. What will cure the source of the problem?

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We believe in an approach that diagnoses, corrects, and maintains. We take our patients through a “pyramid of wellness.” We always start at the bottom, which is chiropractic adjustments and exercise, to work on whatever the patient is facing. Sometimes, we move to the next level up, which offers other interventions like laser therapy, supplementation, and dietary changes to deal with a chronic issue. And the top tier is regenerative medicine, which might include a wide range of advanced circulatory, cellular, and healing therapies. As you work your way through these tiers, the care becomes more intensive and complex, and we do everything we can to resolve an issue that might become chronic if left untreated. Our new space will allow us to add massage therapists, acupuncturists, wellness coaches, and other caregivers to create a highly customized care plan.

What’s the most common misconception you hear about integrative care? 

When they first walk in, most customers just don’t know all the things we can do for them. For instance, they don’t understand that sciatic pain can be caused by more than just a blown disc in your back. They don’t understand that decompression, steroid injections, and/or flexion distraction treatment can treat their issues. They read online that the only cure is surgical intervention, and they’re resigned to the worst-case scenario. But physical therapists and chiropractors can do amazing things for them. I always tell people that we’re going to do everything we can to eliminate the need for drugs or surgery. These huge interventional approaches come with many, many risks. So, if we can do the less risky, less costly options first, we can build out from there.

How does LGBTQ-inclusive care elevate the wellness of the entire community? 

I’m so glad you asked that question, because one of the things I prioritize in my practice is meeting people wherever they’re at. Being able to share publicly that we are a gay-owned and operated business, and that my husband and I both work within the practice, is very liberating for me. I hope it can be inspiring for others as well. Putting that out there, up front, gives us the space to talk with everyone about their unique health care needs, wants, and struggles. It sets a precedence of honesty and transparency that might not exist in traditional health systems. I have a great relationship with my patients because we start with this foundation of truth. We’re not perfect, we’ve fallen short a few times, and we haven’t reached everyone every time. But if I can take the scariness out of health care, from a cultural perspective, it lifts one of the biggest barriers to care—and makes the other barriers seem less challenging. My clinic might offer something for everyone, but we might not be the right fit for everyone. I understand that completely. Our strength comes from offering a space for the LGBTQ community where they feel welcomed, recognized, and cared for.

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How do you care for yourself as a caregiver? 

One of the greatest things about my position is that I have access to so many amazing people. And I have a team of people that takes great care of me. I love what I do, but even I need to recharge my own batteries after caring for others all day. If you do nothing for yourself, your battery will burn out quickly. I see a chiropractor for regular adjustments. I see a massage therapist for stress relief. I have someone who does energy work with me. I eat healthy food. I stay physically active, lifting weights, playing volleyball, and visiting the gym. Doing all these things keeps me well. I’m not young anymore, but I still feel 25 years old most of the time.

What’s one thing people could do to take better care of themselves? 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be healthy. You don’t have to spend a lot of time. You just need to listen to your body. Pain is normally the last thing that shows up when something is wrong. Health conditions often start as small annoyances that we ignore until they’re serious issues. Take the time for self-care. Understand that stress can cause physical responses. Take care of those responses when you see them. Take five minutes a day to do something small that improves your body’s condition: Drink more water, eat better food, take a little walk.

Five minutes. If I could get everybody to start doing that, their worlds would change in no time!

For more information, visit the New Health Chiropractic & Integrative Care website at newhealthmadison.com.

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