MARION — Marion area residents who wince in pain from low back discomfort, sciatica, whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of other conditions, have access to what many consider to be a safe and effective approach to relief and healing — chiropractic care.

Dr. Shane Pluger has opened a branch of his applied kinesiology and sports chiropractic practice in Marion where he offers natural alternatives to prolonged bed rest, traction, sedation or surgery.

Pluger practices a holistic form of health care without medication or surgery.

During treatment, Pluger assesses the muscle function of his patients — who range in age from infants to senior adults — to determine areas that need adjustment. Using hands-on manipulation, he corrects spinal misalignments and restores muscle performance to optimum capacity.

While typically associated with spinal and back complaints, chiropractic treatment is applied to a wide range of conditions including fibromyalgia, sports and car accident injuries, arm pain, bursitis and other head-to-toe disorders.

The number of chiropractic treatments needed by a patient depends on his or her diagnosis. Relief may sometimes be immediate, while longer-term treatment is often required for chronic or severe conditions.

There is also a massage therapist on staff at Pluger’s clinic, and when prescribed, massage is integrated with chiropractic treatment.

Pluger grew up in McBain where he graduated from Northern Michigan Christian School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

As a young athlete, Pluger suffered injuries and experienced firsthand the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. The success of his personal therapy sparked an interest in chiropractic as a profession. He enrolled in Life University in Atlanta where he earned both a doctor of chiropractic and master’s degree in sports health science.

He opened his office in Marion because he grew up in the area and wishes to offer chiropractic to residents of Marion and surrounding communities.

“We don’t merely want to be able to exist on this planet, we want to be able to live and work and play on this planet,” said Pluger. “Chiropractic is one way to help you accomplish this, no matter your age.”

Sarah Bode from Marion appreciates Pluger’s thorough approach, pleasant demeanor and willingness to take time to explain treatment options and answer questions.

“I first went to Dr. Pluger for leg pain,” said Bode. “I was limping and could barely use my leg. After a series of treatments, I had no limp and no pain.”

She also enjoys attention from Pluger’s therapy dog.

According to Pluger, patients heal faster in an environment with a therapy dog, so he brings Ruesky, a 16-week-old Siberian husky, to greet patients who tend to relax and feel comforted by a warm canine welcome.

The clinic is located at Helping Hands, 208 E. Main St. in Marion. Office hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday.

Pluger also has an office in Grand Rapids. For more information, visit grakandsc.com or call Pluger at (616) 524-4454.