Husband-and-wife doctor team treats spinal maladies, promotes wellness and good health
Judy Smith noticed something different as she left her first appointment last December at Chico Spine & Wellness: The rearview mirror in her car needed to be adjusted.
“I was actually sitting taller,” she said. “I noticed it right away after the traction and adjustment.”
Smith, a 69-year-old retiree and avid volunteer, met Drs. Vincent Commendatore and Michelle L. Anderson—the married couple who run Chico Spine & Wellness—through her volunteer work as an ambassador at the Chico Chamber of Commerce.
Commendatore and Anderson—in their mid-30s—opened their chiropractic practice, which is located near Highway 99 between Eighth and Ninth streets, in January 2010 after relocating to Chico from Seattle. Langley, a gentle Great Dane-hound mix that was found as a stray by a relative, was recently added to their office staff as a greeter.
In addition to Langley, a bright Toys for Tots bin greets Chico Spine & Wellness clients when they enter the office. Last year, the two doctors and their staff held an open-house fundraising event featuring food, drinks and live music; anyone who brought a toy or coat could get a free consultation and exam. This year’s open house, which netted 100 toys for needy children, was held Nov. 19.
The warm, friendly couple knew right away that being a part of the Chico community would be at the backbone of their practice.
“We’ve always wanted to give back,” offered Commendatore recently. “It’s the reason we do what we do, which is serve the community and help people.”
Anderson is active in the Chico Noon Exchange Club, while Commendatore plays with and treats the local Mighty Oaks Rugby Football Club as its on-field doctor. Chico Spine & Wellness also sponsors Friday Night Concerts in the downtown plaza, as well as races such as the annual Bidwell Classic 5K and Half Marathon, put on by Under the Sun Events.
Married three years, the couple began their journey together when they met in Seattle and started dating. Both graduated magna cum laude from Life Chiropractic College West in Seattle in 2006, and worked for two years in chiropractic offices there.
Prior to that, Commendatore earned a nursing degree from Chico State, and “always wanted to come back.” Anderson’s bachelor’s degree is in biological sciences from CSU, Fullerton.
Commendatore said returning to live and work in Chico has been rewarding. “It’s not just because I went to school here,” he offered. “Chico is just the right size, and we love to be part of the community. We ride our bikes to work. Most people know we have something special here. It’s so friendly and open, and that attracts friendly and open people.”
Anderson spoke of Chico Spine & Wellness’ inclusive approach to treatment—their practice treats “anyone who has a spine … from 1-year-old babies to 100-year-old ladies.”
Commendatore concurred. “It’s a family practice that is all-encompassing,” he said. “We can see trauma patients, people with problems lifting, people in sports … or just to get checked for wellness.
“We’re reactive,” he added, “but our goal is to teach people.” Spinal problems can be devastating for sufferers, said Commendatore. “It affects your whole life. No work. No sleep. No fun.”
Anderson said their practice is the only one in this area certified to offer Chiropractic BioPhysics, an advanced form of chiropractic training that focuses on structural correction for long-term stability. “The focus is on the patient’s spinal structure, to make sure it’s as close to ideal as possible,” she said. “It dramatically affects the body’s ability to function correctly, to get them back so they feel and function better from the inside out.”
The couple’s eventual goal is for Chico Spine & Wellness to become a regional center where people can come from all over to improve their overall wellness.
Smith, who continues to visit the center for ongoing maintenance, recalled the problems that prompted her to visit Chico Spine & Wellness. “I had difficulties with my right hand going to sleep and being numb. I didn’t know what to do. I tried some other [spine-care professionals], but they couldn’t figure it out.” Commendatore ended up discovering a disc problem in Smith’s thoracic spine, between her shoulder blades.
Smith underwent treatment for 20 weeks, visiting Chico Spine & Wellness three times a week for adjustments and traction, and was given exercises to do at home. Commendatore also recommended she see an acupuncturist, and consulted with a coach at the gym where Smith works out.
Smith appreciates the couple’s holistic and “congenial” approach. “They’re willing to collaborate with others to help you,” she noted approvingly. “They’re proactive in helping you avoid drugs. This has improved my spine. My posture has improved. I’ll tell anyone who will listen.”