Frequently Asked Questions

You Ask, We Answer

Common questions about Orthogonal-Based Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care, and about Life In Alignment Chiropractic?

You have questions, and we can do our best to answer. Your questions will probably depend on who you are.

  • If you are a current or potential patient at Life In Alignment, you should start with the current page.
  • If you are a health care provider curious about referring a patient for corrective spinal care, including upper cervical chiropractic care, you might want to start with our explanation of upper cervical chiropractic procedures.

You can also get into contact with Dr. Zachary Ward to submit a question via email.

Do you have questions that others have asked about upper cervical chiropractic care? Here are some common chiropractic questions that people ask when they are considering a visit with Dr. Zachary Ward at his Auburn Hills chiropractic practice.

Don’t see your question here? Then please call the office, or submit your question via our online form.

Our upper cervical chiropractic practice is extremely accessible for most people in Oakland County and even parts of Macomb County and Genesee County.


We are located in Auburn Hills, Michigan, directly off exit 79 (University Drive/Rochester). We are the only chiropractic office in the Auburn Crossing plaza, which is highly visible from the surrounding area by its large dark awnings.  Exit toward Rochester from I-75, or take the Squirrel Exit from 59 and head north.


We are within 15 minutes driving distance from many Southeast Michigan communities, including:


  • Troy
  • Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills
  • Rochester and Rochester Hills
  • Waterford
  • Pontiac
  • Clarkston - Independence Township
  • Lake Orion
  • Oxford
  • Keego Harbor
  • and parts of Utica

Dr. Ward is both an upper cervical chiropractor and a lifetime recipient of upper cervical care. He understands the distances that many people will go to receive care from a competent upper cervical doctor.


We will do our best to accommodate those who are driving from more than an hour away. Please do not hesitate to call to find out if our schedule will work for you.

No, there is absolutely no popping or twisting of the neck. While general chiropractic adjustments offered by other chiropractors are safe when practiced by fully trained doctors of chiropractic, we do not adjust in this manner in this office.


Our  approach to spinal care is based on gently "releasing" joints into alignment, using more precision instead of more force. You can think of it as gently releasing tension from a spring or a tightly wound string. Rather than pushing through the tension, it is released through tightly controlled, small applications of force.


This makes the adjustment process effective while being extremely gentle. Anyone who is fearful of traditional chiropractic adjustments (which are also safe and effective) may appreciate our unique approach.

It may sound like a cliche, but we treat the person and not the condition. We adjust and correct the structure. We expect improvement in the condition as the mechanics of the spine and body change. All conditions are serious in one way or another to the persons who experience them. Our goal is to help our patients remove barriers to the body's natural healing ability, focusing especially on a particular barrier created by poor upper cervical alignment, and its influence on total spinal structure. Correct the structure, and often the condition responds. Here are some conditions that people desire help with when calling Life In Alignment:
  • Arthritis (Joint Pain)
  • ADD or ADHD (Focus)
  • Back Pain
  • Bed Wetting
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Constipation, Irritable Bowel, or Other Digestive Problems
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Ear Infections
  • Facial Nerve Pain (Trigeminal Neuralgia)
  • Fibromyalgia (Fibro Pain)
  • Frequent Colds/Sinus Infections or Ear Blockage
  • Hacking Cough, Chronic Throat Clearing/Drainage
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Herniated Disk
  • Neck Pain
  • Numbness
  • Reverse cervical or neck curve / straight neck
  • Sciatica
  • TMJ/Jaw Pain
  • Vertigo
  • Whiplash/Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration Injury
In each case, the doctor (Dr. Zachary Ward) will discuss your history and your goals for your care to make sure that you understand what role that our upper cervical chiropractic approach might have for meeting your needs.

Anyone interested in help is invited to contact the office and schedule a consultation. Dr. Ward offers a free 15-minute consultation which gives you face to face time with the doctor in order to determine if the upper cervical chiropractic procedure might be helpful in your case, or in the case of your child. Clinical research as well as Dr. Ward's experience will guide the process.

No you do not have to have a specific condition in order to benefit from upper cervical chiropractic care. The upper cervical chiropractic procedure intends to restore proper balance to the human body, regardless if there is pain. Those concerned with human well-being and performance, including athletes, have found that better body balance through this kind of spinal care to be beneficial.

Yes. Upper cervical chiropractic care is a natural choice for improving the life of small children and babies, especially those who experienced a difficult birth, or who are suffering from chronic health problems.


Generally speaking, both babies and small children respond quickly to upper cervical adjustments, and the gentle approach is very safe and appropriate for their small bodies. Dr. Ward also uses other gentle adjusting methods to address the unique needs of his smallest patients.

From the patient's experience, Orthogonal-based upper cervical chiropractic care is very different for several reasons.


  • There is no popping, twisting, or thrusting into the spine.
  • The adjustment is based on measurements taken from x-rays and their unique postural breakdown, so each individual patient receives an adjustment tailor-made for their body.
  • The focus is on restoring total body balance, not just restoring joint motion.

Yes. Sometimes the name "upper cervical" is confusing. It refers to the neck part of your spine, specifically the top two vertebrae where the head joins the neck. That is the point of application of the upper cervical procedure. However, the effects can be felt across the entire body, including in the low back.

That is because the area where Dr. Ward works has a lot of control and influence on important posture control centers for the body. Our upper cervical procedure expects to change the level and rotation on the hips, and the amount of muscle tension traveling down the whole back. Even if your problem is on the other end of the body from the neck, Dr. Ward may be able to help.

That said, there are specific times and indicators when an evaluation of your structure and adjustment away from the area of the neck can be necessary. If you fit into this group of patients, then care will be given to evaluating you for misalignment and structural breakdown away from the neck.

The procedure is purposefully gentle because of the way the body responds to sudden motion at the top of the spine. It is extremely rare for a patient to say that the adjustment hurts.


However, like any other health care procedure, sometimes changes within the body after the adjustment can cause some temporary and minor discomfort as the body responds to its new alignment. Dr. Ward will prepare you for all of these possibilities when you visit with him.

This is not a “new set of tires” kind of healing.


Upper cervical chiropractic care doesn’t provide you with any new body parts, nor does Dr. Ward prescribe drugs that are meant to take away symptoms. Your body is given a new sense of balance, and an opportunity for self-healing.


All proper healing takes time, and your particular case depends on your health history, what other health challenges you may be facing, and other factors, like your current medications and your stress levels.


That said, a majority of patients will usually feel some change within the first seven days after the initial adjustment. For many that will be a decrease in symptoms. Dr. Ward will evaluate your situation and give you a more specific healing time frame based on the area of the body tissue involved, and your unique history.


Generally speaking, children respond a lot faster than adults because they do not have the same level of spinal degeneration nor poor postural habits that are found in many adults.

Upper cervical procedures are meant to restore proper body balance and allow the body a greater ability for self-healing. For most people that does not come from a one-time adjustment, so a proper care plan is necessary to make sure that you’re progressing under Dr. Ward’s care.


While everyone’s response is different, generally speaking, those who choose upper cervical care make fewer repeat visits than with other forms of chiropractic care. The emphasis in this form of spinal care is not on getting repeated adjustments, but making sure that your adjustment is holding.

Yes. Our upper cervical procedures are guided by objective measurements of your postural alignment, including x-rays at the junction of the head and the neck. What gives Dr. Ward the ability to adjust so precisely and track the progress of your spinal structure is his use of x-rays.

The goal of a traditional chiropractic adjustment in most practices is to restore motion in the spine, anywhere where there might be problems in the joints of the spine. In this system, multiple adjustments over multiple visits is expected and helpful.


As a chiropractic procedure, however, the goal of the upper cervical  correction is to restore balance across the entire spine, expecting problems of joint motion to change and improve the longer the spine stays in balance.


Over time this new balance gives your body an opportunity to heal, relax, and find a new equilibrium. Some days feel really good. And other days don’t feel so great. Dr. Ward will always check if you are maintaining your new alignment based on objective measurements of your posture, and other functional checks of your health. He will only adjust the upper cervical spine when there is a clinical indicator to do so.


Generally, the fewer adjustments one receives, the faster the patient tends to progress through their upper cervical chiropractic care plan. Holding means healing.


On days when contact with the upper cervical spine may not be necessary, the supportive release of muscle and other soft tissue will be performed to help the body adopt a more upright and open posture.

Posture is a window into your health and your spinal structure.


Dr. Ward uses objective measures of posture to determine if a patient is out of alignment and in need of an upper cervical adjustment, or if care is not needed at this time. Every patient visit includes multiple, objective measures of posture.


Many patients note that they can actually see the difference in their posture before and after the adjustment, and Dr. Ward will coach you on identifying the signs that your own posture is changing, showing when you might need an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.

While Dr. Ward does receive referrals from medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, physician’s assistants, dentists, nurses, massage therapists, and other bodyworkers, a referral is not necessary to seek a consultation with Dr. Ward.


Of course the highest compliment to our practice is when one of our patients refers a family member or friend in for a consultation.

We often speak with patients who have very powerful and positive experiences with this care who want to refer family and friends from outside our area in Auburn Hills, or Southeast Michigan. They can get frustrated when discovering that there are very few upper cervical chiropractors.


The reasons for this are many.


  • The first is that not every chiropractic school teaches the importance of addressing the upper cervical spine with a specific protocol, so not every chiropractic student is exposed to our unique perspective on caring for the spine.
  • The second is that this work requires discipline and education, and travel for more education, which for many reasons, can be a hurdle that stops some doctors (especially young doctors) from participating.
  • As a whole profession, chiropractic care is often misunderstood and under-utilized by those who would most likely benefit from it, which means that we have fewer chiropractors than our society needs.


If you’d like to see more practicing upper cervical doctors, consider giving to our research at the Upper Cervical Research Foundation, or tell your primary care physician about this wonderful and gentle form of spinal care.

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