Longtime chiropractors retiring after 23 years in Auburn

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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After 23 years in Auburn, chiropractors Richard Del Balso and Melanie Neeley are closing the doors of their practice on July 27.
What they’ll miss most is “all the fantastic relationships we’ve built over the years,” Del Balso said this week. “We’ve gotten to meet a lot of good people in this community and many have become good friends. You see people come in with health problems and walk out again without pain. That’s very gratifying,”
For Neeley, it has been the joy of educating patients on healthy living and seeing the impact of those changes.
“Chiropractic is about letting your body reach its health potential,” she said. “You see the body restore its functions with a healthy lifestyle, despite the drugs or surgery. When you see that change without side effects, it’s pretty awe-inspiring.”
Del Balso and Neeley had both been accepted to medical school when they decided, in the 1970s, to become chiropractors. The two met at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. A short time later they married and have been partners in life and business since then.
After Iowa, they practiced in Spokane, Wash.;  then moved to Auburn in 1989.
At their Health First Chiropractic clinic, now located at 12000 Enterprise Drive, their work has included sports training and injury care for local high school teams and injury prevention education for local industries.
Del Balso is a specialist in orthopedics.
“I did a lot of disability evaluations for the state of California through the Industrial Medical Council — starting in the early 1990s and continuing until last year,” he said.
He also moved beyond the clinic for four years — from 1997-2001 — to operate a gym.
“(It was a) full gym with a physical therapist and several personal trainers,” he said. “The focus was on exercise and rehabilitation for seniors.”
Neeley specializes in cervical and lumbar disc rehabilitation.
Beyond their areas of specialization, the emphasis is on lifestyle management.
“It’s more of a holistic approach to a person’s health — structural, nutrition and exercise all combined,” Del Balso said.
After the office closes, Chiropractor Randall Hensley, who practices next door at 11822 Enterprise Drive, is taking on Del Balso and Neeley’s patients.
“(His approach) is very similar to ours and that’s one reason we decided to transfer patient care to him,” Neeley said. “…His philosophy of treatment and practice is very similar to ours.”
In addition to the Auburn office, Hensley  has practiced in Meadow Vista for 14 years.
“I look forward to continuing (Dr. Neeley’s) legacy of great care for her and her husband, Dr. Del Balso's patients,” he said in an email.
Leaving the practice will give Del Balso and Neeley more time to spend with their three married sons and their families. But it won’t be total retirement for Del Balso.
“I’m transitioning into a part-time venture with a startup biotech company that has a patented anti-aging product, which is a revolution in the way we, as health providers, approach disease prevention,” he said.
The website for the company is
Auburn resident Linda Smith-Rains is sorry to see the office close.
“When my daughter was about 2 years old, I had migraines and saw Dr. Neeley’s advertisement in the paper,” she said. “I decided to go because I wasn’t getting any relief from regular medicine.”
Neeley’s treatments eased the severity and frequency of the migraines, she said. Twenty-two years later, Smith-Rains still visits the clinic.
“(They’re) very honest, straightforward and sincere,” she said. “Both (Neeley) and Dr. Del Balso are very genuine about caring for the family. It wasn’t only the treatments. They really care about (patients) and making a healthier life.”
Cool resident Diane Williamson agrees. She sought out the clinic when she was suffering from neck and shoulder pain.
“I like their natural healing approach,” she said. “I’d prefer to stay away from prescription drugs. They have a healthy body approach — no or few drugs.”
The decades of togetherness have created a strong bond between Del Balso and Neeley.
“Over the years so many times people would ask us, ‘How can you be husband and wife and practice together and never have any time apart?’ Looking back, I’ve got to say, practicing with Melanie is the best thing that ever happened to me in my career,” Del Balso said. “We were meant to be together not only in marriage but also in our professional lives.”
It is a special relationship, Neeley added.
“Our strengths and weaknesses complement one another,” she said. “We’re still best friends and looking toward to enjoying the next phase of our life together.”