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What is Upper Cervical Chiropractic?

Over the last several years more and more people are searching for Upper Cervical Chiropractors. So what is Upper Cervical Chiropractic? I believe there’s a lack of clarity regarding all chiropractic techniques including NUCCA- so I'd like to try to clear up some of the confusion!


Most people have an idea of what Chiropractic looks like. It often involves some sort of manipulation, twisting, or a cracking sound from a spinal joint. The majority of the Chiropractic techniques include manipulation and it is the style most commonly used by Chiropractors. What a lot of people don't realize is that within Chiropractic there are hundreds of techniques. Many involve spinal manipulation, some of them tend to be a little more aggressive, some more gentle, some involve muscle testing and other alternative approaches. All of them have their place for each Chiropractor and patient.


Upper Cervical Chiropractors are Chiropractors who have chosen to focus on correcting the upper cervical (upper neck) portion of the spine. They use precise and gentle methods and often use X-ray imaging to determine how the upper neck is misaligned and how to correct it. We do this because we believe that the upper neck is the most vital aspect of the spine from a neurological standpoint. Every single neural pathway from the brain to the body (and from the body to the brain) has to travel through the base of the skull and therefore if there are issues at the upper neck it can manifest in any number of ways in the entire body, including postural and muscle tone issues in the whole spine. 

The upper neck is also the most mobile and least stable joint in the entire spine; There is no disc above or below the top bone in the neck. This allows for lots of motion but it has to sacrifice stability in the process which increases the risk of injury.

So while many Upper Cervical Chiropractic patients have primary complaints occurring close to the upper neck including headaches, migraines, vertigo, etc we have a large number of patients who present with complaints further away from the neck as well like sciatic pain and back issues.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of techniques that have similar goals: to correct and balance the upper neck with extreme gentleness and precision. Upper Cervical Chiropractic techniques are known in the health care community to produce great results and be a great option for patients struggling to find a solution to their pain and functioning problems. They tend to utilize X-rays for the assessment and measurement of the upper neck and they tend to not involve twisting and cracking of the neck. 

There are a number of unique techniques that fall under the Upper Cervical Chiropractic umbrella term including: NUCCA, Atlas Orthogonal, Blair, Advanced Orthogonal, Toggle, Knee-Chest, and Grostic among others. NUCCA is one of the more well-known Upper Cervical techniques across Canada and is the technique that I love and use here at Integrity Spinal Care.

The NUCCA procedure involves:

  • An exam and postural analysis

  • Several precise X-rays of the head and neck with specific NUCCA analysis

  • An extremely gentle adjustment to the upper neck

  • Post X-rays after the adjustment to determine if the misalignment has been properly corrected

So now, when people are searching for ‘Upper Cervical Chiropractor near me' you can have an understanding of what they are looking for: a Chiropractor with an extreme focus on correcting and balancing the upper neck. And at the same time, if someone tells you they are afraid to see a Chiropractor because they don’t want to be cracked, you can let them know that Upper Cervical Chiropractors are entirely unique in that sense and they can adjust the neck without manipulation or cracking. 

This website,( is a directory for upper cervical chiropractors all across North America. Now you can help your friends and family all over the continent find a Chiropractor who utilizes upper cervical techniques if they want something different than the traditional chiropractic approach.

If you are looking for a NUCCA Chiropractor for a friend and family, this site ( will help you find a doctor who uses NUCCA in their practice in North America. 

For those that live in the Medicine Hat area, I practice NUCCA at Integrity Spinal Care. I offer complimentary consultations in person or over the phone to anyone who’s wondering about NUCCA or Upper Cervical Chiropractic. If what you have been doing lately isn’t working or if you are wanting a gentle & precise method of Chiropractic, feel free to call and schedule a consultation at no charge.

--Dr. Justin Gauthier

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