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What is Upper Cervical Chiropractic?

Many people I speak with are surprised to learn that there are different types of chiropractic.


They are even more surprised to learn that there are over 200 different chiropractic techniques.


Out of the 200 techniques, they can be broadly categorized and two of the broad classifications are "full spine techniques" and "upper cervical techniques".


All chiropractors see misaligned spines that have twisting, turning, and compression. So why the different techniques? Let's investigate further.


Just like there are a lot of different ways to exercise to improve your fitness, there are a lot of different ways to do chiropractic adjustments to improve the structure of the spine and the function of the body.


Generally speaking, "full spine" chiropractic techniques will be looking at the 26 bones in the spine, doing an evaluation, and then making an adjustment at one or more individual bones in the spine with the end goal of moving that individual bone in a particular way.


Upper cervical chiropractic techniques share some commonalities as well:

  1. Instead of adjusting one bone to move one bone, typically an adjustment is given at one bone with the goal of moving an entire region of the spine or the entire spine as a functional unit

  2. The adjustment is typically focused on the upper cervical spine which composes of the skull (specifically the occipital region of the skull), the atlas bone (the first vertebrae in the neck, also called C1), and the axis bone (the second bone in the neck, also called C2)

  3. A focus on improving function of the brainstem. The brainstem connects the brain to the spinal cord and is located at - you guessed it - the upper cervical spine. The brainstem controls much of what keeps you alive that you don't have to think about: heart rate, digestion, sleep cycle, postural muscles and much more. By reducing stress at the level of the brainstem upper cervical chiropractors are looking to restore better balance to the whole spine and better functioning of the nervous system.


There are a handful of different chiropractic techniques that fall under the category of upper cervical. Some of the more well known ones are: NUCCA, AO (Atlas Orthogonal), Blair, and Orthospinology.


Want to learn more? Check out the full length video here:




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