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Chat with the Experts: Dr. Betel Aklilu, Chiropractor

I’ll admit – for a long time, I was skeptical of chiropractors. To the uninformed observer, chiropractic work appears to involve a lot of back cracking and neck twisting. For years, I assumed chiropractic care was one of those things people bought into based on a placebo effect – i.e. the act of visiting a chiropractor was more important than the actual adjustments. I even briefly visited a chiropractor back in 2015 to try to address my chronic headaches, but after several visits with no noticeable benefit, I gave up. Until last year, when these headaches became borderline unbearable, and I decided to throw caution to the wind and try a different chiropractor.

I’ll be honest – after the first visit, I felt worse. Almost like I had the flu I was so achy. Which makes sense in a way; similar to how sore you are after the first session at the gym after a long hiatus, your muscles are adapting to the adjustments to your bones. But I soldiered on and, after my third session, it was like a switch had been flicked. My headaches were virtually nonexistent. And now, I find that going for an adjustment every few weeks keeps me headache-free. I am, as they say, a convert.

In that vein, I met Dr. Betel Aklilu of Kelayi Chiropractic & Wellness Boutique in Alexandria through virtual networking. A dedicated professional who was once as skeptical – if not more so – as I was about chiropractic work, Dr. A, as everyone calls her, has grown her practice since opening in 2020 and looks forward to continuing to contribute to her community.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a chiropractor.

I have always had a passion for health care and health services. I find joy in helping others. I was pre-med in college, and afterwards, spent two years working as a medical scribe in the emergency department. I realized that the traditional medical field did not involve health and wellness in the way that I desired to serve, so I started working for a non-profit. Serendipitously, my friend who was going to school to become a chiropractor introduced me to the field. She thought it would be a good fit – and the rest is history!

Dr. A comes from a traditional Ethiopian background, where chiropractic work wasn’t something people typically sought. Listening to the impact chiropractic adjustments had on patients' lives, she fell in love with the power of touch. Her focus is not just on pathology and pain; rather, it is on overall health and wellness.

Chiropractic care is hands-on, safe, gentle, and focused on improving the mind and body connection. Where I find it most helpful is in restoring function and allowing people to live their lives to their best ability. I am grateful to have found my purpose through this profession.

What do you find are the biggest misconceptions about what you do?

Not a lot of people truly understand chiropractic care. And often what we see on social media are videos that go viral because of the popping and cracking sounds of relief. However, chiropractic care is so much more than that. So many people suffer pain, discomfort, or disconnection because they do not know or understand that chiropractic care could help them sleep, move, breathe, think, feel, and experience life better.

This is truly the fault of the systems that we currently have in place that do not educate people on their bodies and how we all work. While we help people of all ages (at Kelayi Chiropractic Boutique) we are on a mission to spread the power of holistic care during perinatal and pediatric periods.

Further, many people don't know or understand that it is not all about pain. Restoring function and balance is about being well. Pain doesn't have to be part of your life - there's a balance. It's about self-care and not only focusing outward but focusing inward. And people who take the time for self-care are then better able to contribute to the world around them and the people around them.

What are the biggest areas for improvement in your field?

The biggest mistake I think chiropractors make is falling into the trap of "the pathogenic model." People get stuck in the insurance and billing cycle without creating space that aligns with who they are. As such, many people only seek chiropractic care when in pain. We need to focus on restoring balance between joints, bones, ligaments to encourage self-healing system to work properly.

What are the most commonly-asked questions you get?

Do you take insurance? How often do I have to come back? How early can babies get adjusted?

Biggest barrier to entry to chiropractic care?

With my clients, I would say the biggest barrier is time. Getting here and making the time to stay consistent is tough - even monthly can be hard for some. Time is a challenge. Many people come 1x/month, though some visit biweekly or 1x/week. The average visit lasts 30-40 minutes.

What are your top pieces of advice for anyone thinking about visiting a chiropractor?

To get started now! Our office is designed so that you are not committing to a certain number of visits per week. You're looking at how can I incorporate this into my lifestyle. I think people wait until they are in pain or "need" to come in - don't do that. Listen to your bodies and ask for help in achieving a balance.

Clients should also not be afraid to provide feedback - clients are vulnerable. Find someone you're comfortable with. Make sure it's a fit. Not every chiropractor is good for every patient.

In addition, there is no such thing as too young - adjustments are very tailored to each person (different pressure, different movement, different touch). Bringing your child to a chiropractor is a good lesson for kids in terms of self-care.

Contact information:

Phone number (Call or Text) 703-518-7936 with questions.

For a FREE consultation use the link

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