Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Drivers visit a Pennsylvania truck stop for a tuneup on their aching backs.
SMITHTON, Pa. (AP) -- When Erwin Daugherty pays a visit to the busy truck stop here, he's not getting a tuneup for his 18-wheeler. It's his back that's getting realigned.
Every month or two, Daugherty, 71, of Quinlan, Texas, gets his back checked at the Smithton Travel Center, a truck stop about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh where chiropractors Andrew Giran and Paul Boris operate a clinic.
"I'd see a chiropractor every week if I could," Daugherty said.
An estimated 25 million Americans visit a chiropractor each year, said Jerome F. McAndrews of the American Chiropractic Association. And a growing number of the nation's 65,000 chiropractors have decided to go straight to a group that really needs their help -- truck drivers.
Nature of the job
Truckers, who spend hours on the road and sometimes do heavy lifting, are among the most serious sufferers of back pain, McAndrews said.
"About the only way I get to see a chiropractor is one that had truck parking," Daugherty said in a telephone interview from Texas, where he was driving a load of automobile tires. "So when the chiropractors started putting offices near truck stops, it really made it handy for me."
He said his work sometimes brings him through Pennsylvania, including along Interstate 70, where he can pull off the road for a little work on his aching back.
Along with the Boris Chiropractic Center, Daugherty has found about nine chiropractors who operate at or near truck stops in Arizona, Missouri and Texas.
"If I just happen to find one that's close to a truck stop, I'll put them in my cell phone and say, 'Hey, I'm on my way,'" Daugherty said.
McAndrews said he didn't know how many chiropractors work out of truck stops, but he said the practice is becoming more common.
Giran, 56, was inspired to start the truck stop clinic four years ago after watching a steady stream of truckers pass through a clinic operated by his alma mater, Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.
Giran often kept another clinic near Pittsburgh open late and on weekends -- just to accommodate truckers.
"Many have their own chiropractors in their hometown, so I'll do an adjustment until they get home," he said.
Today, Giran and Boris, 31, practice out of a brown trailer tucked in a parking lot filled with tractor-trailers. They cater to walk-ins and stay open until 8 p.m. weekdays, with a typical adjustment going for $35.
Business grows mainly by word of mouth. Boris says he picks up an average of 20 drivers a month as new customers. On Tuesday afternoon, the clinic saw three patients in little more than an hour.
Pepsi delivery driver Ron Klejka, 58, of Mount Pleasant, found the clinic about two years ago when he needed a physical for work.
Giran offered to do an adjustment for Klejka, who has been a regular ever since. He said the doctor has also helped him through a torn hamstring, which gave him a limp.
Klejka also said the clinic comes in handy because truckers don't lose much time on the road when they stop for an adjustment.
"In our business, we don't have time to wait," he said.