Snap, Crack, Pop: A day in the life of the Branch Health Clinic Bangor Chiropractor

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Zulema Sotelo

SILVERDALE, Wash. – Aches and pains, whether from age or accident, have a tendency to be a by-product for many Sailors and Marines in their duties. To help ease the hurt, active duty personnel have the option of seeking help from a chiropractor.

At Branch Health Clinic Bangor, the resident chiropractor, Spring Aragon, is ensuring that service members get the best care for muscular pain and physical discomfort. Aragon supports the mission of Naval Hospital Bremerton to enable readiness, wellness and health care by the accurate diagnosis of spinal, neuromusculoskeletal injuries and conditions, providing corrective and rehabilitative adjustments and treatments for those conditions listed, and performing prevention therapy.

“The clinic is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’m here the whole time as long as the clinic is open,” says Aragon.

According to TRICARE, the Chiropractic Health Care Program covers chiropractic care, which emphasizes the recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery at designated military hospitals and clinics for active duty service members and activated Guard/Reserve members.

Other beneficiaries, such as family members and retirees can be referred to non-chiropractic health care services, such as physical therapy or orthopedics, or can get chiropractic care in the local community at their own expense.

For Aragon, treating those specific aches and pains that service members suffer from is a long-term commitment she truly engages and endorses.

“I primarily look at neck and back issues. That’s what we treat about 80 percent of the time. People come in with back pain and that’s something they will deal with more than once in their lifetime,” said Aragon. “A lot of patients come in because of the gear they wear, standing for prolonged periods of time, or standing and sitting in static positions which cause a lot of symptoms.”

The cause of service member’s pain leads them to her for meticulous inspection and hands-on holistic care.

“We evaluate (the) patients and see if they need X-rays, imaging, tissue work, and joint mobility exercises,” said Aragon, “We see how they do so we can get the whole picture of where their main issues are coming from and then apply direct treatment into that area.”

Even though the areas that Aragon manipulates are mainly physical discomfort for her patients, there is another factor she means to align and that’s her daily routine. Along with her job at the clinic she also talked about her greatest responsibility which is family.

“I get up pretty early to take my kids to daycare, then come to work. Walking back and forth in these hallways, taking patients in and back, it’s usually pretty moving,” said Aragon.

It’s that sense of family and her past as a Navy dependent that fuels her to continue serving others on a daily basis.

“I was born and raised around this area. I’ve been here since I was a baby. I actually lived on this base because my dad was a chief in the Navy so I’m familiar with the area,” said Aragon. “I grew up here, attended Clear Creek Elementary School and got my bachelors from the University of Washington. I’ve been here pretty much all my life even to the point that I was even a patient at the hospital here.”

Aragon remembers the times she spent being cared by the people that she now returns the favor to and even shares with her patients a little bit of her patient past with Navy medicine.

“I injured my foot when I was in gymnastics (for nine years) and had to go the hospital, the Navy Hospital, to get x-rays, go through physical therapy and even then I still had some pain. I ended up seeing a sports medicine doctor because I had actually moved one of the bones out of place when I was had sprained my ankle,” said Aragon, “At the time it was helpful, but that was one reason that I went in that direction as far as my career is concerned. I can always remember being pretty young and it was interesting that I got all that care. The care I received later became a major component in my decision. Besides, to be a provider here in the same area that I was actually treated as a small kid is kind of fun.”

The holistic approach to relieving pain is a treatment option that is gradually becoming known and Aragon enjoys the daily opportunities in providing quality care to service members in need.

“Right now, the only way people can schedule an appointment with me is through referral by their primary care manager or any of their other medical providers that they may be working with from physical therapy,” said Aragon. “They [TRICARE] are looking at making it a direct access so people won’t need a referral to come in. It would still mean the getting the same care, but they wouldn’t have to worry about getting a referral. Just call and schedule.”

TRICARE policy for referrals to a chiropractor are: the primary care manager (PCM) decides if chiropractic care is required; a service member will be be screened to rule out any medical conditions that would prohibit chiropractic care; if appropriate, the PCM will refer their patient to a chiropractor for treatment; and the service member’s PCM decides on the duration and frequency of chiropractic services.

The caveat is that if a service member decides on their own to get chiropractic care someplace else other than one of the designated locations, it won’t be covered by TRICARE.

But those who visit Aragon for an appointment get her undivided attention to help them alleviate their aches and pains.

“I like working with this population, I like working with the active duty. I feel like I can help the active duty get better from injuries, improve and learn how to avoid injuries in the future. I always thought it was amazing what the military has to do with all kinds of activities like being deployed. So I like to think that I hopefully help them all feel a little bit better in the process,” said Aragon. “The most rewarding part of my job is being able to help people and make them feel better, helping patients get up to do the things they want to do, and go back to their physical activities. That makes me feel really good, when I can help someone.”


About the Author

The Kitsap Scene is an online news magazine covering everything in Kitsap County.



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