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Upper cervical doctors are different than other chiropractors. To help you understand the differences, here are the top six ways your upper cervical doctor will be different than any other doctor of chiropractic that you will see.
1. Won’t adjust you without x-rays.
Your upper cervical doctor uses x-rays to create a unique formula to adjust you based on your body’s unique anatomy.
There are many areas of the spine whose motion can help guide a chiropractic adjustment. The low back and the mid-back, for example, have built in motion pathways created by the shape of their joints. But there is a lot more room for movement and error in the upper neck. So it is the perspective of upper cervical doctors that the junction of the head and the neck cannot be accurately adjusted without measuring and noting your unique anatomy on an accurate x-ray.
2. Measure your body’s posture and/or nervous system function every time you come into the office.
As much as possible, upper cervical doctors use objective measures of your body’s function to help guide the clinical decision making process. Your upper cervical chiropractor may indirectly measure nerve function using paraspinal thermography (heat reading). Or he or she may visualize your in-alignment versus your out-of-alignment posture with a number of different tools that help measure hip height or rotation, shoulder height, and the lean (or list) of the spine.
3. Won’t adjust you at every single visit.
Upper cervical doctors think differently about the purpose of the adjustment than many other chiropractors. In other chiropractic systems, multiple adjustments over many visits are expected, and are helpful. The upper cervical chiropractor, however, believes that “holding” the adjustment is more important than just receiving it. Healing comes from holding your new alignment. Therefore, the upper cervical doctor will only adjust your upper cervical spine when your body shows objective signs of needing an adjustment.
If your upper cervical doctor is adjusting at every visit for many visits in a row, it is a sign that things are not going as well as they should be.
4. Measure the effectiveness of the adjustment after it is delivered.
Your upper cervical doctor will conduct one or more post-adjustment checks every time you get an upper cervical adjustment according to your adjustment formula. In some cases this may include one or two post-adjustment x-rays. This may be another thermographic scan, a measure of your posture, or some other functional test. Unlike other areas of the spine that snap, twist, and pop when the joint moves, the upper cervical adjustment intends to restore balance to a very delicate area of the body. The upper cervical doctor expects immediate changes in some parts of the body’s functions, and verifies it with a post-adjustment check.
If your upper cervical doctor is adjusting you and just sending you on your way, then he or she might not be an upper cervical doctor.
5. Always deliver a gentle adjustment.
The upper neck is a delicate area of the body. It’s natural for the body to lock up when you sense that someone is going to push, pull, poke or prod this area of neck. Because your body will resist an adjustment that is too strong, upper cervical doctors use gentle re-alignment procedures to bring the head and neck into better balance. Your upper cervical doctor will always deliver a gentle adjustment.
6. Almost always concentrates on head-to-neck balance.
There are many reasons upper cervical doctors started calling themselves upper cervical doctors, in addition to using the word “chiropractor.” One major reason is how few chiropractors there really are using a specific adjusting protocol to re-align the head-to-neck area of the spine. Another reason is because the name fits: upper cervical doctors will spend 99% of their time helping your head-to-neck alignment because of how important it is to your body’s expression of life, health, and longevity…and because of how vulnerable the area is to injury.
Unlike the stronger areas of the spine which have an inter-vertebral disc, there are weaker interlocking joints at the top of the neck. The whole thing mostly stays in balance from strong muscles and ligaments. Like any other muscles and ligaments, these upper cervical muscles and ligaments are subject to accidents and injuries which can threaten the normal balance of the head-to-neck area, and disrupt the body’s normal functions.