For Physicians and Other Providers

What is an upper cervical chiropractor?

Upper cervical doctors are chiropractor who complete post-doctorate education, both in conference format and private mentor relationships, for the care of the upper cervical spine.

Like there are different surgical approaches among orthopedists and neurologists, there are several different protocols used by upper cervical chiropractors, each with their unique methods. There are two major upper cervical perspectives, one which is called structural/orthogonal, and one that is called articular/segmental.

Upper cervical chiropractic, as a distinct perspective in chiropractic care, is not new. The growing awareness of it is, however. The history of upper cervical protocols originate in the late 1920, to early 1930s, with various refinements introduced slowly.

For further questions, consider reading Frequently Asked Questions for Providers.

What is the Atlas Subluxation Complex? Is that like Cranio Cervical Syndrome?

Upper cervical chiropractors measure, analyze, and correct the Atlas Subluxation Complex, which includes

  • a malposition of the segments of the upper neck,
  • occlusion of normal tissue,
  • and pressure of the nerve system,
  • leading to a state of interference to normal physiology.

The degree of interference ranges from patient to patient, with symptoms ranging from mild to life limiting and debilitating.

There is no medical correlation for the Atlas Subluxation Complex that matches the depth of chiropractic clinical understanding.

However, physicians who work with Cranio Cervical Syndrome, especially ENTs, should have a greater clinical experience with the effects of the upper cervical spine on the importance of human health.

Cranio cervical syndrome is a great place to start your exploration of the importance of the upper cervical spine, and the symptoms that can appear when it experiences problems.

See the article: Neck pain or cranio-cervical syndrome? written for a patient’s perspective.

Chiropractic Patient Case Descriptions from Dr. Zachary Ward

Chronic stomach pain, headache, post-TBI – 44 year old male
General spinal pain in a 19 year old female

Is upper cervical chiropractic really based on science?

There is a logical chain of arguments that support specific upper cervical work. This chain is supported by some evidence at each link, with the evidence for some aspects being stronger than others. Given the anatomical, biomechanical and neurological complexity of the upper cervical spine, specific upper cervical work is an appropriate approach to adjust the upper cervical subluxation.

Dr. Kirk Eriksen,Upper Cervical Researcher, take from notes from his position paper, as featured on the The Upper Cervical Blog.

Evidence for Importance of Cranio-Cervical Junction in Human Health
(currently in development)

Cranio-Cervical Syndrome (CCS) Symposium – April 6, 2013, Scott Rosa, DC, BCAO (audio only)

Scroll to Top