Chiropractor Dr. Andrew Pierce Answers Our Most Pressing Questions
“Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” -Hippocrates
We met Andrew Pierce, Doctorate in Chiropractic, (Dr. Andy) through a referral from our personal trainer. Patrick had tweaked his knee snow skiing, and he wanted to have it checked-out with a chiropractor before seeing an orthopedic surgeon. We have both had some chronic back and neck injuries over the years from sports injuries and just living life. We both see Dr. Andy and think he’s awesome!
Dr. Andy is an terrific person and a wonderful chiropractor. He has a no-pressure environment, which we love. He incorporates many aspects of bodywork in his rehabilitation programs, including A.R.T. (Active Release Technique), which we discuss below. Dr. Andy has an amazing knowledge of human anatomy and how the body works. On top of that, he’s just a great guy!
Dr. Andy believes that establishing rewarding and lasting relationships with patients is important, and we have definitely experienced that as two of his patients. His office is located in Solana Beach, CA at the Sheppard Spine and Sports Clinic, and he can be found online at Andrew Pierce, D. C. To learn more about chiropractic take a look at The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine.
We got a chance to have Dr. Andy take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. Here is what we found out!
Chiropractor Background and Studies
San Diego Lifestyle: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew-up, and how you got into chiropractic.
Dr. Pierce: Hey guys, thanks for having me! Well I grew up in Wisconsin actually, then moved to Minnesota when I was 15 years-old. I graduated from Chicago Lakes High School, where I played soccer and tennis. I then went on to graduate from St. Cloud State with a BS degree in Pre-Medicine and continued to play soccer. I then went on to Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Bloomington, MN where I earned my Doctorate in Chiropractic.
Along the way, I had some great life experiences, that i think helped me understand my patients on a deeper level. Some of those include numerous road trips from Minnesota to Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, mainly to snowboard. I also ran a marathon or two!
For a few short years through college I was a lifeguard at the MN pools and beaches, a swimming instructor, and a carpenter. I loved working with my hands, and also have always been interested in medicine, so I wondered what I could do that included both. That led me to want to be a surgeon, so I pursued the Pre-Med degree. I then changed my mind to chiropractic because I could still be in medicine, still use my hands, and help people in more aspects of care, like rehabilitation, biomechanics, injury treatment and prevention, and education.
SDL: How long did you go to chiropractic school and is it different now today than it was when you went?
Dr. Pierce: I graduated from Chiropractic college in 2003, after three and a half years. The curriculum in year-round though, so by calendar it is over four years!
The admission requirements for chiropractic college are the same today as they were when I started. They include: 90 credits in biology, human anatomy, and chemistry, as well as a certain GPA. A specific undergraduate degree is not needed as long as you meet the requirements, however some states won’t let you practice without one. And since the requirements are only a few credits short of the Pre-Med degree I went for it.
SDL: Can you tell us about getting your B.S. and about chiropractic school?
Dr. Pierce: I am privileged to have attended and graduated from one of the top chiropractic schools that focused on a very science-based curriculum. That means lots of clinical science classes, neurology, biochemistry, histology, two years of anatomy with dissection, and radiology. I feel this gave me a wonderful knowledge base that I apply in practice. I also had the privilege to intern at Woodwinds Hospital in MN, which has a full natural care chiropractic clinic right inside!
I also started to gravitate towards sports medicine around my first year at Northwestern, probably because i was an athlete, so on the weekends and in the evenings I attended sports specific clubs and seminars to learn more!
SDL: What ongoing certifications are required as a chiropractor?
Dr. Pierce: Well, here in California you have to have 24 hours of continuing education credits per year to maintain your license to practice. Those may include five hours of X-Ray credits if you have and take X-Rays in your clinic. We have a wonderful digital X-Ray machine in our clinic, and I also have my California Radiologic Operators and Supervisors permit, which is required in this state to take X-Rays.
SDL: You have a lot on your web site about ongoing training. What is required versus what have you done on your own?
Dr. Pierce: There is no specific ongoing training that is required, I wanted to learn more about specific things in addition to the curriculum. For example, there are a number of technique seminars I have gone to to become a better chiropractor as well as a better clinician. Since I treat so many athletes and kids, I pursued further education on sports biomechanics, and injury, and adolescents.
Chiropractor Theories, Beliefs and Practices
SDL: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of being a chiropractor?
Dr. Pierce: Well my least favorite thing is that the work expectancy of a chiropractor is something like 10 years because it is such a physical job! So I have to be very aware of my posture and work habits so I don’t wear myself out! My favorite thing by far is purely helping people. I believe the secret to happiness is helping others. That’s why we were put on this planet in my opinion, and I am blessed that I can help people every day!
SDL: You mention on your website, “Working towards goals in health with patients will contribute to their physical comfort, overall health and well-being, and a more enjoyable life.” Can you explain this a bit?
Dr. Pierce: Yes, this is the same as saying “pre-hab” beats rehab, or an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do you know why you brush your teeth? (we both nod yes) Of course you do, because if you didn’t, they would rot and fall out! But you do it every day, even though there is nothing wrong with your teeth, you do it for prevention.
Here’s another example: changing the oil in your car. If you didn’t do it, the engine would cease and blow up. That would be really bad and expensive. So you change the oil routinely, even though there is nothing wrong with the engine to prevent this big expensive problem. Prevention!
There are a number of ways we can practice prevention as a human, all of which will save us from big expensive injuries and conditions. Some very basic ones are stretching, eating right, and chiropractic. You brush your teeth every day, why not do these things for the rest of your body. Are your teeth more important?
SDL: Are there different types of chiropractic?
Dr. Pierce: Yes lots of techniques. From a traditional adjustment to gentle energy techniques. I don’t focus on one specific technique instead i have a number of techniques in by arsenal. That way I have lots of options to give a patient what they need, as one technique may be better for one person and not the next.
SDL: Do you only see patients in your office or do you also have a mobile chiropractic practice?
Dr. Pierce: I only see patients in my clinic, because in California you are only allowed to see patients at the address that is on your license.
SDL: Can you talk a little bit about Active Release Technique (A.R.T.)?
Dr. Pierce: Sure ART is a technique for breaking up adhesions and scar tissue in muscle, tendon, and ligaments. It is not a chiropractic technique. If someone has strained a muscle for example, that muscle can have scar tissue deposited around the injury that is preventing that muscle from working properly and pre-disposing that person to re-injury. So ART in my opinion is the best technique to fix this. As you know, I’ve been doing this on Patrick’s right shoulder for several weeks (NOTE: It has helped a lot!)
SDL: How is this different from massage therapy, acupressure and pressure point therapy?
Dr. Pierce: The main difference is ART takes the involved muscle through its shortening and lengthening phase as the adhesion is being treated. It is a very active treatment whereas in massage the patient is passive.
SDL: Why would someone see a chiropractor instead of an orthopedist for an injury?
Dr. Pierce: There is definite advantages to seeing both, and I work very closely with a number of orthopedic doctors. Say a patient has fell of their horse and broke their ankle. They would go to the orthopedic doctor to set it and cast it, then come to the chiropractor to realign the rest of them after the fall, as well as treat the ankle after the cast comes off to help rehabilitate it with ART, and strengthening. That way the heal much faster and stronger with less chance of re-injury.
SDL: Do you normally treat chronic issues or short-term issues?
Dr. Pierce: Both. I my opinion you have to treat both because the short-term issue if untreated will turn into a chronic issue. The chronic issue, if untreated, will impair the patient, and get worse over time. Think of the oil change, you forget, then the engine develops a knock, then it won’t run as well, then….you get the idea.
The Healthy Lifestyle of this Chiropractor
SDL: What physical fitness things do you recommend to your patients?
Dr. Pierce: Well in my opinion movement is the key to health. Our species was not meant to be inactive, we were designed to move and when we are we are healthy. When we don’t move we deteriorate at a rapid rate! But it doesn’t take much, just gentle aerobic activity, five days a week for 40-60 minutes is all you need. This means a walk, or bike ride. The American Heart Association website has a wonderful guide on this.
SDL: Do you ever make nutrition, diet or supplement recommendations?
Dr. Pierce: All the time, but i don’t push it. I believe in a no pressure clinic, and offer recommendations and education as much as I can. That way the patients can go home and process what they have learned and come back with more questions as they learn and become more healthy.
SDL: What do you do for fun?
Dr. Pierce: Haha! Well, these days there is nothing more fun than following around my 10 month old son! But I may go for a surf, when he is napping! My wife and I also love to snow ski, hike and camp.
SDL: Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.
Dr. Pierce: Well most people don’t know that I am an Eagle Scout, also that I played the violin for years!
SDL: This was really awesome Dr. Andy! How can people find-out your office hours and make an appointment?
Dr. Pierce: Sure it was my pleasure thank you for having me! Easiest way is to go to the website, www.drandrewpierce.com, or call the clinic, at 858-350-6290.