NUCCA Chiropractic Explained

The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) chiropractic method is a technique developed by Dr. Ralph Gregory. It focuses on the upper cervical area of the spine, more commonly known as the neck. Problems in this area of your spine can lead to a host of complications, making it a common target for chiropractic treatments. Here's what you need to know about the NUCCA method and how it works

History of NUCCA 

Back in 1941, Dr. Gregory first met Dr. John Francis Grostic. Dr. Grostic suffered from Hodgkin's disease, making correctiveadjustments in the upper spine challenging as not all chiropractors have theskills or expertise to perform such precise adjustments. After Dr. Gregoryprovided Dr. Grostic with an adjustment, the two became friends and beganworking together to refine Dr. Gregory's method. 

In the past, both doctors had practiced adjustments for the entire spine, but they shared a particular interest in the upper cervical spine. Working together, they developed a more accurate system for performing adjustments to the vertebrae of the neck, making use of advances in x-ray technology. However, this method was not as accurate as the two would have liked so they continued to innovate. 

They developed the original prototype for what is now known as a cephalometer, a device designed to establish a central skull line around which to base other measurements. This method was much more consistent than previous techniques and remains so to this day. As they perfected the device, they were able to learn even more about upper cervical spine alignment, enhancing their research even further. 

After Dr. Grostic's death in 1964, Dr. Gregory teamed upwith other chiropractors to form the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). The organization also established the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research Association (NUCCRA) to handle ongoing research and development in thechiropractic industry. 

NUCCA Chiropractic

About the Upper Cervical Spine

Your upper cervical spine plays a role in a variety of other areas of your body, not just the neck. These vertebrae protect your brain stem, which connects your brain to the rest of your central nervous system. Misalignment in this area can inhibit the nerves in your neck, making it difficult for them to send signals to the rest of your body. Your muscles may overcompensate for the misalignment, causing muscular and structural imbalances throughout your body. 

These imbalances can lead to a variety of undesirable physical conditions, including: 

  • Headaches or migraines 
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain 
  • Leg or arm numbness 
  • Scoliosis 
  • Hypertension 
  • Arthritis 

Problems in your upper cervical spine can also impact your mental health, as can the physical conditions that result from them. These can include depression, anxiety and other mental health complications. 

While the NUCCA chiropractic method can't treat these mental conditions and physical ailments directly, it can remedy the problem that isthe root cause: misalignment in the upper cervical spine. As a result, you'lllikely see a reduction in or even complete elimination of your othersymptoms. 

The NUCCA Chiropractic Method 

The NUCCA method involves using a gentle touch to manipulate the bones in the neck to eliminate any interference in your spinal column. It is a non-invasive procedure so there is no need to prepare for the treatment or recover afterward. Your chiropractor will make use of innovative technology to map your head and neck to enable precise measurement and analysis of anymis alignment. 

Once your chiropractor has a firm understanding of your specific misalignment, there won't be any need for future x-rays. Instead, your doctor will be able to evaluate your posture in order to identify any lingering misalignment. If you have been seeing another chiropractor for frequent adjustments to the bones in your neck, you'll likely be able to free yourself of this obligation as well. Once your spine is in proper alignment, the rest of your body can begin to fall into place, normalizing your body's function and preventing the need for future corrections. 

What to Expect at an Appointment with a NUCCA Chiropractor

During your first NUCCA chiropractic appointment, the majority of your doctor's efforts will focus on getting to know you, your body and any negative symptoms you are experiencing. It is important to be as forthcoming and open as possible during this initial intake process. The more your chiropractor knows about your physical condition and overall health, the better they will be able to treat you, so don't be shy about speaking up. 

Your doctor may delve into your medical history as well. Past incidents like car accidents, surgeries and other injuries could have long-lasting effects that influence the alignment of your spine. It's important to take everything into account. After talking with your chiropractor for awhile, you'll move on to taking specific measurements for analysis. 

Diagnostic Testing

In most cases, your chiropractor will start with an x-ray of your head and neck area to view the specific alignment of your vertebrae. The goal is to determine whether there are any significant imbalances that require correction. From these x-rays, your doctor will be able to measure anymis alignment precisely in order to develop a treatment plan. Your chiropractor will also be able to use these measurements and x-rays to gauge your progress going forward as you have now established a baseline from which to work. 

In addition to x-rays, many chiropractors like to use other diagnostic tools as well to create a more complete picture. The Anatometer is a device endorsed by NUCCA that enables your doctor to evaluate your standing posture. Any misalignment or imbalance in your body will be revealed, giving your doctor a complete analysis of your entire body, not just your upper cervical spine. 

The Gravity Stress Analyzer is another commonly used tool that measures how your body distributes its weight between your feet. More weight on one side than the other can indicate imbalances that will require attention in the future. Some doctors also use hip calipers to measure the alignment of your hips. Any imbalances in this area can radiate outwards through your body, potentially causing issues in your spine or legs. 

Finally, your chiropractor will perform a test for what is known as "short leg phenomenon." This common leg-length imbalance is not actually caused by one leg being shorter than the other; rather, one leg can appear to be shorter if the hips are imbalanced. To check for this imbalance, your doctor will have you lie on an adjusting table so they can evaluate the lengths of your legs in comparison to one another. 


Evaluating Your Initial Diagnostics

After this initial round of diagnostic testing, it is time to determine whether you are a candidate for NUCCA chiropractic care. Although just about anyone can receive chiropractic treatments following the NUCCAmethod, it will be more effective in treating some conditions than others. Your chiropractor can advise you as to whether NUCCA chiropractic treatment makes sense for your particular misalignment. 

After approving you for NUCCA treatments, your chiropractor will get into the details of evaluating your x-rays and other diagnostic tests. This will involve mathematically analyzing your test results to determine the best course of treatment. Once you have agreed to begin your treatment, your chiropractor will perform your first spinal adjustment, to be discussed in the next section. 

After your adjustment, your doctor will take another set of x-rays to evaluate how your spine responded to the initial adjustment and determine if additional corrections are needed to get your neck into proper alignment. If you are concerned about having multiple x-rays taken and the effect of the radiation on your body, there is no need. NUCCA chiropractors utilize low-technique settings and install specialized filters to minimize your exposure. 

Your First NUCCA Chiropractic Adjustment 

For your initial spinal correction, the chiropractor will have you lie on the adjusting table. They will then direct you into a precise position through your head and neck to enable the doctor to manipulate your vertebrae. This position is completely unique to your treatment plan as it is based on the measurements from your x-rays. Even the positioning of your chiropractor during the adjustment is tailored to your specific needs. 

Once you and your chiropractor are in position, they will hold their hand near your ear, which is near the location of your first neck vertebra. Using a light touch and subtle motions, your doctor will carefully realign your spinal bones. You won't feel any rapid, jerking motions or heavy pressure, but you may feel a bit of light pressure under your doctor's fingers. 

In most cases, the adjustment will only take a few minutes to complete. It is surprising just how little the vertebrae actually have to be moved in order to alleviate pressure on your spinal nerves. You may not feel any different at first but you can rest assured that you will begin to feel the positive effects going forward, especially if you continue with treatment over the long term. 

Evaluating Your Follow-Up X-Rays

As mentioned above, your chiropractor will take another round of x-rays after your first adjustment. Your doctor will then be able to compare them against your initial x-rays to see how your body responded. In most cases, this will only occur after your initial correction as your doctor will then have a foundation to work from going forward. Future appointments can then focus on maintenance. 

If your chiropractor concludes that you need additional adjustments to get your spine into proper alignment, they'll likely readjust you, then check again. The better the initial alignment, the faster you will beable to recover from what ails you. Once your spine is properly aligned, your chiropractor will schedule you for a follow-up appointment. 

Every person's body is unique and heals in its own way, at its own pace. The goal of each follow-up appointment will be to evaluate how your body has responded to the adjustments. Your doctor will also determine if your vertebrae have begun to shift back towards misalignment, making additional adjustments as needed to get your spine aligned properly once more. 

The longer your spine stays in proper alignment, the easier it will be for your body to recover. Any future adjustments you'll need will be more minor than your initial adjustments as they are merely maintaining proper spinal alignment, not establishing it in the first place. With ongoing treatment, the ultimate goal is to get your spine so healthy that you no longer need adjustments at all! 

Who Can Receive NUCCA Chiropractic Treatments 

Because the NUCCA method employs such a light touch, this style of treatment is suitable for just about anyone, regardless of age and overall health. Getting regular NUCCA adjustments can help you maintain your health throughout your entire life. The treatment approach is uniquely tailored to each individual, minimizing the risk of any complications and enhancing your body's ability to keep itself as healthy as possible. 

Of course, not all health conditions can be treated with chiropractic care, so it is still important to keep up with appointments with your primary physician in order to monitor your whole health, not just the health of your spine. Working in tandem, traditional medical care and NUCCAchiropractic treatment will keep you in the best possible health for as long asyou live. 

Get Started with NUCCA Chiropractic Today

At True Spine Chiropractic, we are proud to follow the NUCCA method in delivering chiropractic care to our patients. If you are unsure whether NUCCA chiropractic is right for you, we will be more than happy to answer all of your questions. Using our convenient online booking tool, you can schedule your initial consultation right away! Our chiropractors are compassionate and caring, and we'll always treat you with dignity and respect. We welcome you to book your free, no-obligation consultation with us. Your doctor will go over the details of the procedure with you before getting started so you know exactly what to expect. Call or book online today!

To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Hallmeyer, call our Bend office at 541-848-6834. You can also click the button below.

If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at

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Bend, Oregon 97703
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