Back pain relief led to chiropractic career

Joseph Ethen, ’97 BSAS

Joseph Ethen works in the field of chiropractic care and graduated from Youngstown State University. He is an Alumni Success Story.

Joseph Ethen

The pain was so bad, Joseph Ethen could only get up to eat, use the restroom and endure grueling physical therapy.

“Otherwise, for a whole month, I was on my back,” he remembers.

At the age of 24, Ethen suffered from a severely bulging disk in his back. To fix it, his doctor recommended surgery. Instead, Ethen did something he never thought he would do – he went to a chiropractor.

“I really didn’t believe in it, but I didn’t want to have surgery,” said Ethen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from YSU in 1997.

Within a month, his back was functioning. Within six months, he was pain free.

“It changed my view of chiropractic and how powerful it can be,” he said.

And it changed his life.

Ethen, who was working as an exercise physiologist and athletic trainer at Sharon Regional Health System in Pennsylvania at the time, said he “almost immediately” changed career paths.

He enrolled in the Palmer Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa, earning a doctorate in chiropractic in 2005, and returned to the Youngstown area to set up his own practice. In July, Ethen, his wife, Alicia, and three daughters and a son moved to suburban Chicago, where his practice now includes five massage therapists, the latest equipment in the chiropractic field and patients ranging in age from newborns to senior citizens.

“I am one of the millions of people across the world whose life has been turned around by going to a chiropractor,” Ethen said from his office in Glencoe, Ill. “I believe that we do the same thing every day right here.”

Joseph Ethen playing basketball as a YSU Penguin.

Ethen playing for the YSU Men's Basketball team.

A native of St. Cloud, Minn., who played basketball, track and football in high school, Ethen attended Carl Sandburg College in Illinois for two years before being recruited to play basketball at YSU in 1995. At 6 feet 7 inches tall, Ethen played power forward for the Penguins under coach Dan Peters. He was an Academic All Mid-Continent Conference selection for the 1996-97 season.

After earning his degree in 1997, he took the job at SRHS and in 2001 earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Slippery Rock University. When he opened Ethen Chiropractic and Wellness Inc. in Canfield in 2006, he also volunteered as the unofficial team chiropractor for YSU athletes.

“I’m very wellness oriented,” said Ethen, who exercises three to four times a week, eats a healthy diet and get chiropractic adjustments on a regular basis. “Unlike physical therapists, who most often work with people who are injured or not healthy, as a chiropractor, my mantra is that I want to work with healthy people and help them stay healthy.” From a chiropractic standpoint, the way to do that is regular appointments with your chiropractor, he said.

Ethen, whose practice also includes acupuncture, said many people remain skeptical about chiropractors – “quackery” some people call it, he said. And he said less than 10 percent of Americans go to a chiropractor. But, he said he thinks chiropractic care is becoming more and more accepted and that even an increasing number of medical doctors are recognizing the role that chiropractic can play in a patient’s health. His website cites a recent study showing that more hospitals are offering alternative therapies such as chiropractic care.

Ethen said he moved to the Chicago area for two reasons. First, it is about halfway between Struthers – his wife’s hometown – and St. Cloud, Minn., where his parents still live.

“Also, we came here a lot on vacation,” he said. “We love it so much that we thought, ‘Why not make it home?’ So, we did.”

(Previously published in YSU Magazine, Fall 2011)