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Dr. Camacho: Progress is a Process

Dr. Camacho working with client lying on mat.While pursuing his undergraduate degree in athletic training from Penn State, Edward Camacho, D.C., ICSC, (Florida, ‘13) says there was a key moment when he realized he wanted to take a different path.  

“I was asked to evaluate an athlete on the table. I had the diagnosis ready but when the head of orthopedics came near, I was pushed to the side to let the team physician reevaluate. I felt irrelevant and useless at the moment. The team doctor stated the same diagnosis I had arrived at. At that exact moment, I knew athletic training was not the role for me. I wanted more. I wanted to have the respect he had. I wanted people to part the way when I approached an athlete on the table.” 

He knew then that he wanted to be a ‘sports’ doctor and ruled out being a pediatrician or any other field.  

“As a Type 1 diabetic, I have always wanted to help people. I just didn’t know how and in what capacity. I knew I enjoyed sports and working with athletes from the beginning,” he explained. 

Dr. Camacho, who has his International Certificate of Sports Chiropractic (ICSC), started working with athletes from the Penn State wrestling team thanks to an unexpected message from one of the athletes seeking Active Release Techniques (ART).  

“This wrestler ended up winning his first national championship that year and told another teammate about me that summer, and then another, etc. It’s crazy because I wasn’t sure how he found me or how he even knew that I could perform ART. It turns out, this wrestler didn’t know that out of the 30+ licensed chiropractors in town, I was the only one doing a lot of myofascial treatments and muscle work in this capacity. But, for reasons greater than my understanding, he messaged me,” he said. 

Being at the D1 National Championship for collegiate wrestling in 2022 greatly impacted Dr. Camacho.  

“If you are into wrestling, there is nothing like it. The environment and energy of the arena cannot be replicated outside of this event unless you try to compare a world or Olympic competition. Every section has its school colors, and at any given moment, something is happening somewhere on a mat that has a section going crazy. At times the whole arena is going crazy. It is really cool to experience it as a fan,” he described. 

Dr. Camacho notes that it is not all fun and games while working versus spectating, however.  

“There is a lot of stress behind the scenes, time schedules, weight cutting, silent injuries and so on. From the top of the head to the tips of the toes, I have seen injuries at every joint on a collegiate wrestler. No qualifying competitor comes into the national event 100% healthy. It’s the final three-day tournament of a long season in a very aggressive sport. Everyone is dealing with something and that’s just the reality of the situation. I’m either set up in the hallway and knocking on doors for the next athlete or running my table and bag from room to room doing what needs to be done.”  

Though there is no official team chiropractor, there is a joint effort between Dr. Camacho and the team’s full medical staff (ATC, MD., etc) and coaches.  

“I worked under and still look up to the head ATC so I know what he does with most athletes. I try to fill in the blanks in that perspective,” he said. “I focus on musculoskeletal conditions as my approach and the treatment modalities are slightly different from others assisting the athletes. The only passive modality I utilize is a cold laser. Everything else is hands-on and active in nature. These guys want to get better right now. Laying down with stim and heat feels good but does not fix their problems.” 

For anyone looking to work with college athletes or get into Sports Chiropractic, Dr. Camacho has sound advice which his mentor repeatedly told him: know your sport.  

“Growing up, I wrestled and loved it. Now that I work with collegiate wrestlers, I follow wrestling worldwide as a fan. The more you know the better you can serve your patient base. Study the sport, the lifestyle of the particular athlete, and the habits which separate different competitive levels,” he strongly advised. 

Dr. Camacho believes that when you know your sport, the body and your athletes, you have all the data you need.  

“These athletes have so many resources for them on campus so if they leave campus to seek care, you must deliver beyond their expectations. For anyone trying to build those relationships from their private practice, you must stand out and offer something they cannot get within their university walls.” 

Based on Dr. Camacho’s strong relationships and having built trust with his patients, he is one of the first people they text when an issue arises.  

“I get on the mat and get bloody and sweaty with these guys. They know I am just one of them (except they are much better wrestlers than me). I have earned their respect and trust with my personal work ethic and experiences,” he said. 

His relationship with the first Penn State athlete has developed into much more than a patient-doctor scenario. To his surprise, he was asked to walk out with the athlete during his senior night and last home match. Dr. Camacho humbly accepted the honor.  

Moving forward in State College, Dr. Camacho’s goal is to buy his office building to expand it for a functional space large enough to do everything under one roof. As he grows the practice he purchased in 2019, he wants to remind incoming and current students that progress is a process!  

“Hard work always pays off. Work the youth events, meet new people, trust your skills, keep learning new things and, lastly, always believe in yourself. If I can, so can you!” he encouraged.