‘Crack-​A-​Lacking’ for a Living

Photo by Kate Benz Chiropractor Rich Quitko Chiropractor Rich Quitko
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There’s a banana pumpkin scented candle flickering on the front desk. It’s a nice scent. Very deceiving. As if something yummy and caloric just popped out of Betty Crocker’s personal oven. Then, there’s the sign on the window welcoming walk-​ins and talking about things like headaches and low back pain and shoulder and arm pain and all sorts of chronic pains that have probably become a real pain in the neck for someone.

Which is why there’s a gallon of Biofreeze — “the secret weapon for fast-​acting, powerful pain relief!” — sitting on the shelf in each of the exam rooms, which are situated along a long, narrow hallway lit with florescent lighting and decorated with framed posters: “DISCOVER CHIROPRACTICTHE NATURAL CHOICE.” In one of the rooms there’s a replica of the spinal cord dangling from a steel rod that Rich Quitko will use to show you exactly what your bones are doing to cause your head to pound and your body to ache. He’s already looked at your x-​rays. And what he sees explains why four-​letter words have become your vocabulary of choice every time you move. “Things” have happened. Sometimes, those things happen after an accident or a fall. Usually, they happen because people are slouching and slumping and staring down into their iPhone for hours on end; things that require what he’ll laughingly refer to as a “crack-​a-​lacka.”

The biggest misconception is that chiropractic is just for back pain or just for neck pain, and it’s much more than that,” Rich says. He’s got a blue button-​down shirt on and an argyle sweater vest layered on top and is in possession of looks that would be very appropriate for a spread in GQ Magazine. He is always smiling. Always happy. The posture is impeccable. “A lot of times, it’s what you do to your body,” he adds. “This is about health from within.”

Rich has been doing this for 20 years. “A long time,” he says. “I have no idea how many patients I’ve seen over the years… probably thousands.” Crack-​a-​lacking and rubbing in the Biofreeze and getting to know patients so well he won’t think twice about going to their father-in-law’s funeral. Being very sympathetic about the ice on the sidewalk that they unintentionally skated across or the monster SUV that rammed into their little two door. And he’s very good at very patiently listening to all of the excuses about why there’s no time to get to the gym to stay fit and no time to come in for a crack-​a-​lacka until it hurts to walk, and definitely no money in the budget for a new mattress to replace the one that’s 30 years old even though there’s absolutely money in the budget for the Steelers/​Patriots game. That no, a killer pair of heels does not take the place of a good quality and slightly less attractive shoe with excellent arch support. That it’s important to sleep on your back, not on your stomach with your neck twisted into a pillow that resembles a giant Jet Puff marshmallow. That if you don’t take care of your body now, your body won’t be taking care of you later.

Rich’s office is situated in a retail plaza that sits on McKnight Road, next door to Pool City and a Heavenly Ham that gets so busy on the holidays the line will snake past his office door. Above it hangs large, red lettering that simply reads, “CHIROPRACTOR.” His red Hummer is parked outside, and he’s not sure what he’s up to this weekend. He might hammer out another home improvement project. He’ll most definitely hit the gym, either the one that’s just up the road from his office or the other one he joined in Cranberry. He meets a lot of people at the gym. People who will tell him all about the ows in their life when they find out what he does for a living. People who get to know him and trust him and keep him in their mental Rolodex the next time they feel something that they shouldn’t.

How did I get into chiropractic? I’ve always been interested in how the body works and then I went to one after being in a car accident in high school,” he says. “I had thought about going into dentistry, but decided not to. Someone once said to me, ‘Do you really want to have your hand in someone’s mouth all day?’ And I thought, ‘Eh, no, I really don’t.’”

Kate Benz

Kate Benz has been a professional writer for the past fifteen years with bylines appearing in The Tribune-​Review, Pittsburgh Magazine, Table Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and LOCAL Pittsburgh Magazine. She is also the author of an “Images of America” book on the history of Cranberry Township. When she is not writing, you can find her thoroughly enjoying a co-​dependent relationship with her dog or taking long, romantic walks down the makeup aisle.

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