Upper Cervical Chiropractic FAQ/Doctors
A Patient's Perspective with Louella Harris
Founder; National Awareness Campaign for Upper Cervical Care, Inc.
Frequently Asked Questions About
Upper Cervical Health Care
Q: Are your physical problems being caused by Body Imbalance?
"Just what is Body Imbalance and how do I know if it has happened to me?"
Body Imbalance occurs when the C1 or Atlas, and/or the C2 or Axis, the top two vertebra in the neck, are misaligned and out of their proper position. This can occur as a result of an accident, emotional trauma, or chemical toxicity in the body. Childbirth itself can move the atlas out of position because of the massive amounts of pressure on the head and neck of the baby as it passes down the birth canal. Or childhood accidents like falling from a tree, bike or skates can misalign it. In adulthood, the atlas can be shoved out of position during minor or major accidents such as sporting accidents, automobile accidents or slips and falls. Some of the worst cases of atlas misalignment and resulting pain have been caused by minor car accidents such as being rear-ended. One indication of body imbalance is having one leg slightly shorter than the other. You may also notice that when you stand in front of a mirror one shoulder is slightly higher than another, and one hip is higher than the other. Another indication your atlas may be out of position is by having different symptoms in your body that your medical doctor cannot explain or find the cause for on any tests.
Misalignment of the bone structure of your head and neck irritates the nervous system causing muscular tension and translates into pain and suffering.
Q: "How can Body Imbalance cause me to have physical problems?"
The C1 or Atlas is a donut-shaped bone that your skull rests on. Your spinal cord coming out of your brain and brain stem passes through the center of the donut shape. Your spinal cord at that point consists of trillions of nerve fibers (the nervous system) that "bottle-neck" through the small opening in the atlas. These fibers eventually branch off carrying information to every part of your body. If the C1 is out of its proper position it can irritate, constrict or disrupt vital nerve signals to any portion of your body. This can cause muscle or joint pain, organ dysfunction, lowered immune system and countless other conditions that you would not ordinarily relate to a problem originating in your neck.
When head tilt develops and the body becomes imbalanced, the spinal cord, just below the brain stem, becomes irritated, restricting or distorting the flow of healing messages from the brain to that part of the body serviced by these irritated nerves. This can cause pain and suffering and decrease the quality of your life.
When the body is balanced, spinal cord irritation and tension is removed. Proper communication from the brain to the affected areas of the body is restored. A balances body will maintain health at optimum level.
Q: "Why do you call it Body Imbalance rather than a neck imbalance?"
Because it effects the entire spine and body. Wherever your atlas moves, your head moves with it. If this top bone in your neck has shifted out of position ever so slightly, no more than the thickness of a fingernail, it can move your head off center of your body. In an effort to keep the head over the center of the neck, the entire spine and pelvis will twist, pulling one hip up and one leg with it. You are now walking around on one leg that is shorter than the other. This places more weight on one side of your body than another. The wear and tear on your entire body is exactly like driving a car that is out of alignment. The result can be muscle and joint pain anywhere in the body. Without correcting the problem, which originated with a single bone (Atlas) at the top of your neck moving out of position, your entire body is now imbalanced.
When this continues over time, something else starts to happen. Because nerve flow is disrupted or distorted, degeneration of cells in organs can occur, causing internal physical problems that may not show up for years.
Q: "Is it painful to correct?"
Fortunately, no. The Upper Cervical Correction can be described as a slight predetermined direction of pressure applied to the first bone (Atlas) or second bone (Axis) in the neck. Depending on the technique, it can feel like a brisk thrust, a light tap, on the side of the neck just below the earlobe. That's where the atlas is. Sometimes this is accompanied by a subtle sensation as the bone moves back into place. There is NO twisting of the neck. This correction is engineered to reposition the weight of the head (10 to 14 pounds) over the center of the body in order to restore body balance and restore brain to body communication. When the correction is made, muscles begin to relax, blood and oxygen circulation is increased, the brain is able to communicate with the affected area, and the body's natural healing process begins. The healing process continues as long as body balance is maintained and the brain can communicate with all parts of the body.
Q: "Does it have to be corrected often?"
That depends on your own body. Some people can hold their correction for several months, even a year at a time. Others have to be corrected once or twice a week in the beginning, then one or twice a month. Everyone is different. The Upper Cervical doctor's objective is to make as precise an Upper Cervical correction as possible. Then he/she must help you maintain the correction with as few corrections as possible so that you may live pain free and enjoy a better quality of life. Periodic Upper Cervical checkups, just like dental checkups and physicals, should be part of your personal preventive health care program. If you are maintaining your correction and body balance then your Upper Cervical chiropractor will not adjust you.
Q: "I am concerned about radiation from the x-rays. Are they completely necessary?"
Yes, they are the cornerstone of the Upper Cervical doctor's practice and are very specialized. Most chiropractic equipment today along with lead aprons keeps radiation down to a minimum. The x-rays used in hospitals generate 100 times more radiation than the x-rays used by UC doctors. Also, you get more radiation from sitting 10 meters from your T.V. set for 4 hrs. than from UC x-rays. Plus, any minimal danger from radiation, in our opinion, cannot be compared to the destruction that is going on in your body every minute your atlas obstructs brain to body communication. Any shift the atlas makes can cause multiple health problems. But sometimes that shift in position is no greater than the thickness of a fingernail. The Upper Cervical doctor has to rely on x-rays to determine the exact position your atlas/axis vertebrae have misaligned. The specific analysis of the x-rays will allow the doctor how to reposition your atlas to within a fraction of an inch back to the correct position it should be.
The UC doctor will make the correction only after an intensive analysis of how far out of position your atlas is. After correcting the atlas, either a second series of x-rays are taken or a post heat reading is utilized to determine if the adjustment was done correctly. These are referred to as pre- and post-x-rays and pre- and post-heat readings. The doctor will show you these "before and after" x-rays and/or heat readings so that you can see the difference the correction has made.
Q: How soon should I get my children under this care?
As soon after birth as possible, and then have them checked periodically as they grow up. You could not possibly give your child a better gift than to make certain that the one organ of the body that controls all the other organs and body functions, the brain stem, is doing its job without interference from the tiny bone just below it.
Q: How much does it cost?
A fraction of what you have probably already spent in your quest to get well. There will be some expense at the beginning because of the x-rays that are so necessary. But our organization has asked that each doctor provide some type of payment plan that enables you and your family to get under care as soon as possible. Because insurance does not distinguish between one form of chiropractic or another, if you have insurance that covers chiropractic, it should cover Upper Cervical as well. Unfortunately, some HMO's and PPO's only have certain chiropractors on their list of providers and you have to go to them. Most of these, though equally well trained in other chiropractic procedures, may not be trained in precision Upper Cervical chiropractic. On a personal note, Richard and I had no insurance when we started Upper Cervical care, but the concept made enough sense to risk it. Plus, it costs no more than other forms of chiropractic care. It turned out to be the best investment of our lives.
Q: If the Upper Cervical procedure is so good, why haven't I heard about it before?
There are specific reasons why you have never heard about this before, and unfortunately, they are political. First, everyone is aware of the war that has been going on between the medical profession and the chiropractic profession over the last 100 years. Whenever there is a war, there is always a black out of information to the public at large. For example, 6 years ago when we tried to discuss Upper Cervical care with any medical doctor or nurse, the moment we mentioned the word "chiropractor", a thick wall went up. We never were given the chance to describe how advanced chiropractic at large as become and there are phenomenal procedures like this one available to people today. The medical prejudice we encountered prevented us from being able to share this information with doctors and nurses who work with people who desperately needed this information, the very information that would have helped their patients avoid surgery in many cases and avoid the consumption of drugs with dangerous side effects. Because the doctors and nurses themselves did not know about this type of health care, and in some cases, they chose not to know, their patients have paid a high price for their medical doctor's ignorance.
Fortunately, 6 years later, more and more medical doctors are discovering how beneficial Upper Cervical health care is and are referring more and more of their patients to Upper Cervical doctors. These medical doctors acknowledge that constantly prescribing medication is ineffective and is actually creating additional problems. They realize they have found a safe, scientific alternative that is of extreme benefit to their patients. Some of these progressive medical doctors are now becoming some of our greatest allies. One day we sincerely hope that the medical and chiropractic professions will work side-by-side for the benefit of public health. We need them both.
The second reason you've never heard about this procedure before is because certain laws in every state and in Canada prevent chiropractors of any particular procedure, whether UC or otherwise, from freely advertising the procedure they have dedicated their lives to learning. One law in particular forbids any chiropractor of any procedure to infer that his method is superior or more advanced than other chiropractic methods. If a chiropractor does this, he could be severely chastised by his state board of chiropractic examiners by being heavily fined and/or threatened with the loss of his license.
It is possible that this law was originally passed to protect the public from chiropractors making unrealistic claims about their procedure. The unfortunate result of this law, however, is that it has produced such fear in chiropractors who practice almost exclusively a specific type of chiropractic, that they simply are forced to remain silent about the benefits of their procedure. A law meant to protect the public has actually created a moratorium on vital information that could be of tremendous benefit and cost savings to the public.
What to Look for in an Upper Cervical Chiropractor
The Upper Cervical Chiropractor's work focuses on the correction of the atlas (C1) and sometimes the axis (C2), which are the 2-oz. bones that surround your brain stem at the base of your skull. In the initial consultation, the doctor will explain why correcting the position of the atlas is the cornerstone to the health of your entire body. The UC doctor may adjust other parts of your spine, but it is done gently and specifically.
" The Upper Cervical doctor knows that putting the atlas, the top vertebrae of the spine, back into its proper position can enable the entire spine and pelvis to correct on their own."
** Dr. Racine does treat the rest of the spine. In addition to Advanced Chiropractic, he also adjusts the spine without cracking or popping, which helps to stabilize the Upper Cervical region even more! If he does adjust different parts of the spine, it is done gently. He is careful not to jeopardize the atlas correction. The doctor knows that putting the atlas, the top vertebrae of the spine, back into its proper position can enable the entire spine and pelvis to correct on their own. Body balance is restored and cord irritation removed. This enables healing to begin flowing from head to toe.
The Upper Cervical chiropractor will NEVER adjust you unless he knows exactly how to correct the atlas based upon information gathered from x-rays. He or she will check the length of your legs to determine body balance, do a manual spinal exam, and scan palpation of the C1-C2 nerve roots in the upper neck to check for signs of spinal cord irritation. Upon determining that the atlas is misaligned, he or she will take a set of pre-x-rays of your neck. (Some UC doctors also take x-rays of the spine, as well.) The Upper Cervical chiropractor will make an intensive analysis of the position of the atlas, how it has shifted, tilted, or rotated out of its proper position. This is the key to his work and must be done prior to the initial correction. The UC chiropractor is not interested in just moving bones. His or her goal is to place the bone back into its correct position or as close to it as possible. You will be shown your x-rays so that you can see for yourself how far out of the proper position your atlas has moved. When you see your x-rays, you will begin to understand why a misaligned atlas could be a major reason why you have hurt for so long. This is true, even in areas that are as far removed from your neck as your feet, or in parts of your body you wouldn't think would be helped at all by having your atlas corrected.
Once the x-ray analysis is complete, the Upper Cervical chiropractor corrects the atlas using a precise, directed, quick procedure that is done by hand or by instrument. If done by instrument, it feels like a light tap just below the ear lobe. If performed by hand, it feels like a light massage or a brisk thrust to the side of the neck. There is no twisting of the neck. You will honestly think the doctor has done nothing because of how quick it is. Yet, it requires extensive training to master because Upper Cervical specific procedures are some of the most complex chiropractic techniques to learn.
The Upper Cervical chiropractor always takes a post x-ray or an exam of the atlas immediately after the first adjustment to determine how well he has made the correction. The post x-ray is a cornerstone of Upper Cervical work. It enables the doctor to know that the correction he calculated from the x-ray analysis is the right one for future adjustments. The post x-ray is generally necessary only once! The moment the atlas is corrected, healing begins, though you may not feel it immediately.
" Pain is often the last symptom to occur when the atlas moves out of position; but once it moves, degeneration of nerve tissue begins again."
The Upper Cervical chiropractor is NOT interested in having you in his or her office three times a week for the rest of your life. However, he must stabilize the position of your atlas/axis if healing is to take place. Many people require multiple corrections before that is possible. Louella, for example, was so ill that her atlas had to be corrected two times each week for several months. She still has to be corrected about once a month to maintain the level of health she now enjoys. Her husband Richard, on the other hand, holds his correction for 15 months at a time. Even though the Upper Cervical doctor is committed to moving you from crisis care into recovery with as few adjustments as possible, the number of corrections you will need will depend upon how long you've had the condition and how serious it is. Even after you stabilize, it is a must to get checked regularly. Pain is often the last symptom to occur when the atlas moves out of position; but once it moves, degeneration of nerve tissue begins again. To avoid this, it is cost-effective to adopt a life-time maintenance program that helps your body stay balanced.
These Are the Marks of a Good Upper Cervical Chiropractor. Look for Them When You Get Under Care.
Notice to the Prospective Patient
In the last several decades, chiropractic has a whole has made tremendous advancements in what it is able to offer the public today. There are now over 250 different Chiropractic procedures available to the public. Every one of them has produced miracle stories equal to Louella's. These advancements in chiropractic procedures have happened quietly without applause because of the medial mindset of the media. Even after 100 years of miracles stories resulting from chiropractic care, it is still almost unheard of for the media to cover a chiropractic breakthrough as they so readily will cover a medical breakthrough. But the NACUCC applauds all chiropractors for the tremendous work they are doing to bring non-invasive healing to the public. Chiropractic works. However, we are finding consistently that not every procedure will work for every individual. Like many others, we tried one type of chiropractic procedure and when it didn't work as well as we expected, we wrote off ALL chiropractic as a whole. We thought that was the only chiropractic procedure available. The reality was that Chiropractic care was the answer. We just had to find the one procedure out of the 250 that worked for us. We found it and we want others to know about it as well. Therefore, we are simply educating the public about precision Upper Cervical Chiropractic because this is the little-known procedure that turned our lives around.
Note: Each person's body and state of health are unique, therefore individual results may vary. With the additional variables of technique, level of doctor skill, stress, and other factors, NACUCC cannot guarantee or be responsible for personal results.