Dr. Julie Nelson uses Graston on a patient.

CORRECTION: The Watchman has received updated information that the institution that Dr. Julie Nelson received her advanced degree is now called Northwestern Health Sciences University 

When asked what she does outside her practice, Dr. Julie Nelson, D.C. – who joined Chiropractic Connections in January – admits that “I do really like chiropractic and am often reading functional medicine studies. It is really interesting to me.”

The Custer, SD native attended Augustana University following her high school graduation where she earned a degree in biology and psychology with an emphasis on neuroscience. “I love it all, but especially science of the brain and nervous system,” said Nelson.

A good experience with a chiropractor soon had Nelson changing her focus from pre-med to chiropractic. “When I was in high school, a chiropractor helped me, and then when I was a sophomore in college, a chiropractor helped me again, and that piqued my interest,” said Nelson. “I really enjoyed being a patient and could see myself becoming the physician as well.”

Nelson pursued her advanced degree at Northwestern Health Sciences in Bloomington, MN. She says that two internships she had while at Northwestern cemented her desire to practice functional medicine in conjunction with chiropractic.

Functional medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. “I had internships in Edina, MN and Chanhassen, MN with chiropractors who both specialized in women’s health, pediatrics and in functional medicine,” said Nelson. “I learned a lot.”

“I see my own functional medicine provider for my own health, and I see the value. You can really do a lot of different things with chiropractic, but still be a physician, and I really liked that,” said Nelson. “I like getting to the root cause and not just focusing on symptoms.”

“It’s really for people who don’t seem to have anything specific wrong with them except they’re not feeling good, or for those who sometimes fall through the cracks of medicine and get left behind.”

Nelson notes that she can do lab tests and that she looks at tests a little differently “in order to prevent future disease and correct bad habits” for people who are “absent of disease, but not health.” She calls it “supportive medicine for people who are at their wits end,” and offers “supportive nutrition and soulful care.”

With a natural leaning family, Nelson says she just trends toward alternative medicine anyway, and after seeing results from her own functional medicine provider and chiropractor that were different from “what my MD thought would happen, I put my faith in that.”

Among the alternative treatments Nelson offers is IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization), commonly called ‘Graston’ after the brand name of the tools used.

Nelson uses Graston to scan “the body for damaged tissue, fascial adhesions, and tight muscles that are not receiving enough blood supply,” said Nelson. “Graston brings attention to that pretty quickly, and the body will come in and bring new blood flow to the area and lay down new collagen connective tissue.”

When she strays from her interest in science, Nelson says she “likes to be in the outdoors in the Black Hills hiking.” For self-care, Nelson says she takes Epsom salt baths.

“I read and talk to my sisters and my family and my boyfriend,” said Nelson of her free time. “I like plants.”

Living in Pierre, Nelson listens to podcasts during her commute. “I love the ‘Office Ladies,’ and listening to true crime podcasts, but I’ve been banned from listening to those from my family because they tend to make me anxious.” Nelson says she hopes to relocate to Onida in the future.