‘Anyone with a spine’
Mark Tenenbaum makes chiropractic care affordable for practically everyone
Can you set aside $20 a month for routine body maintenance? Mark Tenenbaum hopes so. He recently opened Tenenbaum Chiropractic in Chico, intentionally setting a low price per office visit to encourage people to seek his services.
“The philosophy is that, if your body is a car, you take your car to get an oil change or a tuneup,” Tenenbaum said in a phone interview. “Coming to me is kind of like the same thing. If they can come in at least once a month to get a tuneup, it’s really healthy for their body—and most people can afford $20 once a month to do that.”
Tenenbaum opened his office doors June 3. The high volume of patients he’s treated in his first three months has been a pleasant surprise.
Some like his non-traditional hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Others like the ability to schedule appointments online at their convenience.
Then there’s the price—$20 gets a patient at least 15 minutes with Tenenbaum. He’ll treat children under 5 years old for free and kids ages 6 to 17 for $5 when their parents come to see him.
“I didn’t want to set up a practice where I was turning people away,” he said. “In all fairness to people out there, the economy is tough—a lot of people don’t have money. In the 11 weeks I’ve been open here, I’ve had a lot of people come in who say there’s no way they could afford probably 90 percent of the chiropractors in town. So I feel really good about [being able] to help them out.”
Tenenbaum, 37, always planned to open his practice in Chico, even though he’s not from the North State. After visiting the city often, he decided that “I wanted to spend the rest of my life here.”
He was born and raised in Merced. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder, majoring in psychology with a minor in business. He worked in the mental-health field for six years in San Diego, where he had a career epiphany.
“I saw an excessive amount of the population put on pharmaceutical drugs—both kids and adults,” Tenenbaum said. “When I was working in various mental-health settings, what I found was most of these people did not need to be on prescription drugs—they just needed to make lifestyle changes, make healthy choices.
“They needed to eat right, they needed to exercise more, they needed to sleep more—and they needed to improve their relationships with friends and family. That was the crux, the main issue many people had. And they didn’t need to be on prescription drugs.
“I really wanted to get out of that setting. … I wanted to continue to work with people, but in a setting where I could encourage people to live a holistic lifestyle.”
A few years earlier, he’d had a transformational experience with a chiropractor. He was 24 at time and had suffered pain off and on for a decade following a wrestling mishap, in which a friend had put him in a headlock and crushed his head down, injuring his neck.
Walking downtown in his hometown, he saw a sign in front of a chiropractor’s office that said, “We treat neck pain.” He went inside and learned his second cervical vertebra was rotated out of alignment.
“He just put that back into place, and 10 years of pain was gone instantly,” Tenenbaum said. “That really opened my eyes. I said, ‘I have to check out this profession; it’s really cool.’”
Flash forward six years: He uprooted his life and enrolled at the Palmer College of Chiropractic in San Jose. Upon graduation in 2009, he completed an internship in Los Gatos, then worked at practices in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stockton before moving to Chico to hang up his shingle.
Tenenbaum primarily offers three types of treatments. He frequently performs chiropractic adjustments, such as the manipulation his chiropractor performed on him to get his vertebrae back in alignment. He also performs orthopedic massage (focusing on muscles) and craniosacral massage (a soft touch often used on the head and pelvis).
“Craniosacral is a very subtle technique,” Tenenbaum explained. “It’s very relaxing; some patients actually fall asleep on the table. … It’s hard to explain—you have to experience it.”
He doesn’t just touch people’s bodies, though; he also tries to touch their minds.
“I’m constantly educating patients on how to live a healthy life,” he said. “I’d say 95 [percent] to 99 percent of a person’s health is [due to] the decisions they make outside of the office. When someone leaves my office and goes to eat two double cheeseburgers at McDonald’s, watch TV for eight hours, and doesn’t exercise, that’s not going to help them.”
In Chico, Tenenbaum has treated patients as young as 1 and as old as 89.
“I can pretty much do it to anyone with a spine,” he said, adding that “you don’t have to be in pain to benefit from chiropractic.
“A lot of people go to the chiropractor just when they’re in pain, and it really should be the other way around,” Tenenbaum said. “A lot of my patients come in for maintenance care, where there’s not necessarily anything wrong with them—they’re just coming in to get their oil changed, so to speak, just because they know their body is going to function better and they’re going to feel better.
“So I encourage everyone, even if they don’t have any problems, to come in and get a treatment. Most people are surprised at how much better they feel.”