WEST BURLINGTON — While most doctors venture to Jamaica to get away from the pressures of caring for patients, Tom Rexroth will be doing just the opposite as he visits the Caribbean island this week.
As part of a seven-day mission trip, Rexroth is traveling with a team of chiropractors on a bus in the Montego Bay area, going from school to school to examine and treat young students and faculty.
“God has blessed me in every way, so I desire to be a blessing to other people,” said Rexroth of the West Burlington-based Rexroth Chiropractic Center.
The visits to the schools are arranged beforehand by a local facilitator, Rexroth said.
Rexroth is traveling to Jamaica as part a group of chiropractors belonging to the World Wide Christian Chiropractic Association, which organized the mission trip.
The expedition is a 25th anniversary mission trip, and all the chiropractors who have made mission trips to Jamaica in the past 25 years were invited to participate. Organizers are expecting about 10 chiropractors to attend, Rexroth said.
A non-profit organization, the Fort Collins, Colo.-based Christian chiropractic group organizes short-term and resident trips around the world to minister to both the body and soul. The group has about 1,100 members and offers six short-term mission trips a year to places such as Poland, Ukraine, Honduras and Jamaica.
“They take us to the school and we set up portable adjusting tables where we work on people. We ask them if they have any health concerns, and if it’s something that we can help, we offer to treat them,” Rexroth said.
The chiropractic missionaries don’t need an X-ray machine or other modern equipment to treat misaligned spines.
“A lot of what we do can be done with just an adjusting table, the knowledge that we have of the spine and what we can do with our hands. Chiropractic actually means ‘practice by hand,’ ” Rexroth said.
The main thing chiropractors do is adjust spines to relieve pressure on nerves, which can help relieve a wide range of maladies from headaches to back pain to intestinal problems, Rexroth said.
“If we can determine what is wrong, we can adjust them. An adjustment means putting the bones back in place and getting the pressure off the nerves,” Rexroth said.
Rexroth joined the Christian professional organization about 40 years ago while a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport but didn’t take his first mission trip to Jamaica until 2007, which was the only other mission trip he has taken.
“The last time I was there (Jamaica), there were four chiropractors and we adjusted 1,100 people,” Rexroth said.
After each person has been adjusted, a minister talks with them about Jesus and God’s message of salvation.
“We’ve kind of earned the right, by giving them care, to talk to them about their eternal condition,” Rexroth said.
While Jamaica is considered a Christian nation, there are large segments who have “never made a commitment to ask for God’s salvation,” Rexroth said.
While ministering to the soul is important, it’s the professional satisfaction he gets seeing the look of amazement on a person’s face after being treated for chronic pain that Rexroth said was the most rewarding part of the trip.
Rexroth has operated his clinic 38 years. His grandfather, Murray Limbcoker, a chiropractor since 1922, opened the West Burlington chiropractic clinic in 1963 and worked there until he retired in 1969. He died in 1973.
Limbcoker constructed the building as a residence and a clinic combined. When he retired, the office closed, but his wife maintained it so when Rexroth, who was in the Army Reserve at the time, decided to begin practicing he would have a place to do so.
Rexroth reopened the clinic in 1971 and has practiced chiropractic medicine there since. He was joined by his son, Joel Rexroth, in 2001.
“Joel is the fifth generation of chiropractor in our family,” Rexroth said.
“Now that Dr. Joel is practicing with me, it’s a lot easier for me to get away. It used to be when I would leave, everything shuts down. Now I can leave and he just works harder,” he added.