San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chiropractor Couple Runs Clinics

“Headaches, back and neck pain, frozen shoulder, dizziness, stress and problems with the extremities are frequent reasons why people consult us,” says Atenas-based chiropractor Alejandra Rodríguez, 28, who together with her husband Sashe Ellison offers this holistic approach to health in two Central Valley locations. The bilingual couple has run the Alesa chiropractic clinic in Atenas, northwest of San José, for three years, and in May opened a second facility in San José.

“We want to spread the word of chiropractic in Costa Rica, since it’s a safe, natural, drugless way to good health,” says Ellison, 30, from the U.S. state of Michigan, a graduate of Logan College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, Missouri, with 10 years of work experience.

The term chiropractic is a combination of the Greek words chiros (“hands”) and praktikos (pertaining to action), meaning “done by hand.” The World Federation of Chiropractic defines it as “a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculo-skeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal manipulation, termed adjustment.”

Written records from the ancient Greek and Chinese civilizations, dating back several thousand years, refer to spinal manipulation. In 1895, the first adjustment of modern chiropractic was performed by Daniel David Palmer, a magnetic healer who had a large practice in Davenport, Iowa.

People of all ages and from all walks of life can benefit from chiropractic treatment, including pregnant women. Alesa chiropractors treat problems with joints, bones and muscles, and the effects they have on the nervous system. Moreover, they also attend patients with conditions such as allergies, asthma, depression, immune deficiency and high blood pressure.

Chiropractic treatment consists of a wide range of very specific light force and pain-free manipulation techniques intended to keep the nerve passages in the body open and unobstructed. According to Palmer, chiropractic is the art, science and philosophy of working through the spine with the nervous system, to create a better function of the body as a whole. Chiropractic addresses the self-healing ability of the body, a phenomenon that Palmer termed “innate intelligence.”

“The two organs of the human body that are the first to develop in the embryo, and are later enclosed and protected by bones, are the brain and the spinal cord,” Ellison explains. “Adjusting misaligned vertebrae – or, as we say, subluxations – is crucial to prevent degeneration of the spine, keeping the space for the nerves open to function 100%. While we change someone’s nervous system, we can improve their quality of life.”

The first subluxations can occur during the birthing process, and when little ones learn to walk they can fall up to 400 times per month, Rodríguez says. Consequently, chiropractors also work with newborns, babies and children of all ages.

An initial visit to the Alesa clinics includes recording of the patient’s medical history, aswell as an explanation of how chiropractic works. Then the doctors analyze the spine, using various tools – their hands, X-rays, muscle testing and computerized heat-reading devices – to determine where there are subluxations and how they can be corrected.

“There are three phases of chiropractic care,” Ellison says. “The initial crisis care, followed by the rehabilitation phase and the third to maintain and enhance health.”

Alesa chiropractors also support the treatment with individual advice about the patient’s lifestyle, work and exercise, to help manage the condition and prevent a recurrence of the problem. The clinics also offer ionic cleansing (body detox) and therapeutic and relaxation massages.

Ellison and Rodríguez are both board-certified in the United States and recognized by the University of Costa Rica. Ellison decided to become a chiropractor because he received personal chiropractic care with amazing results. Rodríguez, an Atenas native, became a chiropractor with the help of a scholarship from the Costa Rican government.

She studied and trained for seven years at Life University in the U.S. state of Georgia. “Being an exchange student in the United States, I learned about chiropractic and fell in love with the profession at first sight,” she remembers.

Chiropractors are organized internationally, and there are standards for education. At present, 23 chiropractors practice in Costa Rica, Rodríguez says, and they are in the process of forming a Costa Rican chiropractor association. She and Ellison agree that “Costa Rica is a country where chiropractic is in the early stages of development, and only a few are certified and recognized.”

Alesa clinic in Atenas is in the town center, 150 meters north of Importadora Monge; for information or to make an appointment, call 446-3457. The clinic in San José is in Sabana Norte, 25 meters west of Banco Interfin; for information or appointments, call 231-6719. Alesa also has a Web site at


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