A NUCCA chiropractor is an extreme specialist in the complementary healing sciences who performs one particular variety of spinal adjustment as the mainstay of their treatment program.
NUCCA practitioners concentrate on diagnosing, evaluating and treating subluxation of a specific type of vertebral misalignment that affects the atlas vertebrae. This spinal bone is the uppermost level of the vertebral column and resides between the occiput of the skull and the rotational axis vertebra below.
NUCCA is an acronym for the governing organization that trains and regulates these chiropractic specialists. The letters stand for National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association. However, the term NUCCA is also used to refer to the treatment itself or as an identifier for chiropractors who offer the service.
This treatise provides an overview of NUCCA practitioners, including the diagnostic process used, the pre-treatment evaluation methods and the actual therapy provided to patients. We will also delve into the reasons why these doctors feel that NUCCA is so important and the conditions that are treated with this spinal manipulation modality.
The goal of upper cervical chiropractic is to diagnose and correct a condition called ASC. This acronym stands for Atlas Subluxation Complex and describes a scenario wherein the topmost vertebra is shifted from its optimal alignment within the spinal column. This singular spinal manipulation is the only service offered by most NUCCA practitioners.
There are usually no obvious external indications that the atlas might be subluxated, so NUCCA doctors will utilize a variety of diagnostic tests in order to ascertain the placement of the atlas in relation to the remainder of the backbone. They will also use tests that are designed to demonstrate the misalignment of the atlas as it affects the remainder of the anatomy.
Specialized highly-calibrated x-rays are a diagnostic necessity in NUCCA care. 3 different images are taken to visualize the exact location of the atlas and the surrounding vertebral bones and skull.
Other tools used to test for the consequences of atlas subluxation include supine leg length analysis and the use of an interesting piece of equipment called an Anatometer. This device can measure anatomical symmetry, posture and other bodily criteria.
If a subluxation is found to exist, the chiropractor will begin to evaluate the diagnostic films in order to formulate a plan for correction.
Patients with Atlas Subluxation Complex will be advised that they require a spinal adjustment in order to restore the vertebra to its proper anatomical location. But first, the chiropractor will take time to carefully chart the exact degree, direction and severity of the subluxation, so that they can remedy the pathology using a carefully targeted manipulation that is performed with the hands.
This step is accentuated in the training program that is used to become a certified NUCCA provider. Without proper evaluation of the subluxation, the doctor might not be able to resolve it and may, in fact, make the problem worse.
Once the necessary angle and direction calculations have been formulated, the patient is ready to receive the vertebral adjustment and will hopefully benefit from successful implementation of the treatment.
The corrective ASC manipulation is performed with the patient lying on their side. The chiropractor will place themselves at the most beneficial angle to enact proper treatment. They will apply focused force to the atlas, using a specific area of the base of their hand, located on the knife edge of the pinky side.
The actual atlas adjustment is incredibly gentle and most patients do not even feel the change in alignment occurring. There should be no pain, although some patients do report hearing or feeling a clicking, grinding or popping in the cervical spine during the procedure.
Adjustment is usually a multi-step procedure, with several motions being completed to successfully implement resolution of the atlas misalignment. In between adjusting techniques, the chiropractor might sit the patient up, have them lie on their backs or stand them up to do further measurements in order to be sure that they are accomplishing their therapy goal.
Once the doctor is satisfied with the results, they will take yet another set of 3 x-rays to visualize the adjusted atlas and compare this second set to the original to judge the efficacy of their treatment efforts.
NUCCA is very controversial, both within the general healthcare system and even among chiropractors. Many see some value in the approach, while others dismiss the entire system, including the theories, diagnostic methods and treatment techniques, as being bogus. However, even though there is only a small number of certified practitioners, the popularity of this chiropractic focus is growing year over year.
NUCCA is utilized to treat an ever-expanding list of health conditions, since providers claim that all manner of pathologies, injuries and disease can originate from improper atlas alignment.
Some of the most common conditions utilized to justify treatment include any of the following: bad posture, tight musculature, myofascial pain, fibromyalgia, all forms of neck pain, all forms of back pain, all forms of appendage pain including sciatica, headaches and limb length discrepancies.
Some of the less common conditions treated with NUCCA include: allergic intolerances, all manner of gastric and digestive difficulties, high blood pressure, chronic stress, insomnia, internal organ dysfunction, asthma and other respiratory disorders, homeostatic problems, sexual dysfunction, a wide range of neurological and neuromuscular diseases, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, emotional difficulties, learning disabilities, immune system disorders, disposition towards infection, depression, blood sugar concerns and neurological irregularities of virtually all varieties.
While NUCCA practitioners see definitive links between health problems and what they view as the obvious misalignment of the atlas vertebra, many other types of doctors view the practice as pure profit-driven marketing of a system of care that does not show any definitive proof of treating any type of pathology or providing any verifiable benefits.
The overwhelming preponderance of positive therapy evidence citing NUCCA benefits has been engineered from within the governing body, in a research section called NUCCRA. Very little objective third party clinical testing is available for public evaluation.
If you are a fan of holistic care and have enjoyed benefits from traditional chiropractic treatment, then NUCCA might be worth investigation as a potential new route towards a cure. There is little at risk in trying, since the care is finite in most cases, is not overly expensive and might just make a big difference in your general health, even if it does not cure your pain.
If you try NUCCA and wish to share your experiences, we welcome you to send us your story detailing the entire therapy process from start to end.