Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I see a NUCCA Chiropractor?
From professional athletes to homemakers, engineers to electricians, young people to seniors, chiropractic care has been the answer to achieving optimum health. Many people see a chiropractor for back, neck, joint problems or any number of other problems. Others find that their overall well being, outlook, energy, and vitality are improved and want to live at this health level. Still others find that regular visits to their chiropractor keep them in peak condition. Regardless of the reason for first seeing a Chiropractor, virtually all people under chiropractic care see improvement in their overall health and vitality. Chiropractic care allows your body to work optimally so you can enjoy the most out of life!

What is NUCCA?
NUCCA is an acronym for the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association. It is a highly advanced method of spinal correction unlike any other type of care. Doctors John Grostic and Ralph Gregory first developed this biomechanic system of upper cervical correction in 1941. After Grostic's death, Dr. Gregory formed NUCCA in 1966 to conduct seminars and participate in research. The organization now offers regular educational programs for doctors, a certification program, and ongoing research studies.

How does NUCCA Chiropractic care work?
The NUCCA Procedure is designed to correct a small but significant spinal misalignment called the Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC). The ASC distorts body posture and nervous system function, which can cause and/or contribute to numerous health problems. This specialized procedure corrects spinal misalignment from its source--the upper neck--and returns the skull, spine, and pelvis to their optimal positions so that the nervous system can function without interference. This enables the body to self-heal and self-regulate optimally.

Is the NUCCA Spinal Correction safe?
Yes. Because the NUCCA correction focuses on principles of math, physics, and each person's own biomechanics, it is highly individualized. The specificity of the correction does not make twisting, cracking, or popping of the spine necessary.

Why haven't I heard of the NUCCA Procedure before?
There are over 200 named techniques within the field of Chiropractic, with about 30 being most commonly used. Out of 65,000 chiropractors in the United States, fewer than 250 worldwide utilize the NUCCA Procedure. Currently, there are three NUCCA offices in Virginia and less than 15 along the entire east coast.

Will the NUCCA correction make my spine too loose?
No. The correction is designed to "unlock" the spine and enable the muscles and ligaments to support it properly. The vertebrae will only shift or move as much as they need to to return the spine to its balanced position; by nature of how the spine is put together, this makes the spine stronger.

What does a NUCCA correction feel like?
The NUCCA correction is a gentle, light touch and controlled contact on the first cervical vertebra (C1; atlas). As the correction is applied, most practice members report feeling a bit of pressure behind their ear. After the correction, many notice a sense of well-being or a feeling of calmness. Some feel as though their power has been “turned on.” Others feel more whole or “connected.” (This is what “normal” feels like!)

How do I know if my spine is out of alignment or if my nervous system isn't working right?
Regularly a dentist checks our teeth, an optometrist checks our eyes and a doctor checks our blood pressure and cholesterol. Yet, we take the spine and nervous system - crucial components of our body - for granted. Regular chiropractic checkups are designed to look for small problems before they get big to help you maintain better health. So how do we know if our spine is out of alignment or if the nervous system is compromised? We periodically see our chiropractor.

How many visits will I need?
By the time many people consult our office, they’ve had their problem for some time. Retraining the muscles and ligaments that support the spine takes time. Each visit builds on the ones before and the goal is to stabilize the spine and allow the body to heal so that problems will not return. The number of visits varies with each practice member and their individual health goals. Visits are more frequent early in your care and less often as your spine stabilizes. 85% of our practice members report improvement within the first three months of care. In more difficult cases, complete healing can take months or even years.

If you work in the neck, how do you help low back pain and sciatica?
NUCCA doctors focus on the upper neck, as this is the source of spinal imbalance. Typically, when the spine is imbalanced, the entire spine is off-center and twisted. This affects the position of the low back and pelvis. By correcting the spine from the upper neck, the skull, entire spine, and pelvis will return to their optimal positions. This takes pressure off the spinal discs and nerves located in the low back and pelvis.

Why would a newborn or child need to see a NUCCA chiropractor?
Even today’s “natural” childbirth methods can affect an infant’s spine. Everyday bumps, falls, and injuries can damage the delicate and growing spine. While young children don't typically complain of pain, other issues such as colic, unusual crying, poor appetite, erratic sleeping habits, recurrent infections, developmental delay, or behavior issues can be signs of spinal distress and nervous system interference.

Can I see a NUCCA Chiropractor if I'm pregnant?
Yes. Anytime is a good time for a better functioning nervous system. Pregnant women find that proper spinal alignment and pelvic position improve their pregnancy and make delivery easier for themselves and their baby. Research has shown that pregnant women who are under chiropractic care have fewer pregnancy-related symptoms, shorter labors, and report less discomfort during labor.

Can I correct myself?
No. Some people can make their joints “pop” but that’s not a correction! Worse, damage can occur by mobilizing (moving) a joint with weakened muscles and ligaments. The NUCCA correction is specific and takes years to master. Even Dr. Mike must visit a colleague to benefit from NUCCA chiropractic care!

Isn’t some back pain normal?
Pain of any kind, at any age, is a sign that something isn’t right. Pain is the way your body signals that a limit has been reached or a problem has developed. Since we can adapt, minor aches and pains are often shrugged off. While they may go away, chances are the problem remains. If the underlying problem remains ignored, the problem can slowly worsen until it becomes more difficult and expensive to resolve.

Can a person who had neck or back surgery see a NUCCA Chiropractor?
Yes. It's an unfortunate fact that up to half of those who have had spinal surgery discover a return of their original symptoms months or years later. They then face the prospect of additional surgery. This all too common occurrence is known at "failed back surgery syndrome". NUCCA chiropractic care may help prevent repeated back surgeries. In fact, if chiropractic care is initially utilized, surgery can often be avoided in the first place.

Can I feel good and still have a subluxation?
Yes. Sensation (how we feel things) is conveyed from the body's sense organs through the spinal cord to the brain over sensory or "input" nerves. If the subluxation reduces the capacity of these nerves to carry sensation, you will not be fully aware of a health problem. You may feel well enough, but be quite ill.

Why might I feel worse after a correction?
If your sensory nerves had been affected by subluxation, you may not have been fully aware of the problem. Once subluxation is removed and full sensation returns, some people experience a brief period of worsening of symptoms. Let me reassure you that this is temporary and part of the healing process. Follow-up visits keep your body free from subluxation so the self-healing process can continue uninterrupted.

If I respond quickly and feel OK after a correction or two, why should I return?
Most people have suffered from the ASC and its degenerative effects for many years. Symptoms, especially pain, come last, after the body can no longer adapt. Since symptoms come last, they often "go away" first. But this does not mean the spine is stable or the many years of compromise and degeneration are healed. The atlas subluxation is a very delicate mechanism. An atlas misalignment of no greater than the width of a pencil mark may cause neurological imbalance until the spine is stabilized. Each visit builds on the one before and aims to keep us free from subluxation so that the body can heal optimally and keep symptoms from returning. Stopping care before the body is fully stable and healed makes the reappearance of symptoms likely.

Once I start NUCCA care, do I need to continue forever?
The fact is, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Many folks recognize that mental and physical stress as well as minor accidents and injuries are just part of life. Many choose to continue their chiropractic care on some type of periodic basis for the rest of their lives so that they can enjoy the benefits of an optimally functioning, healthy body. Others choose to see us from time to time for episodes of pain or other acute symptoms. We will make recommendations based on your health goals and the condition of your spine. How long you choose to take care of your spine and nervous system is entirely up to you.

Should I be concerned about x-rays?
Absolutely not. The developers of the NUCCA Procedure have taken many steps which enable NUCCA doctors to take the best films with the least possible x-ray exposure. The established guidelines for personal x-ray exposure are no more than 5000 mrem in a year. A typical CT scan is 800-1000 mrem. A mammogram is 70 mrem. A complete NUCCA x-ray series is less than 10 mrem. Even the most difficult case would rarely receive more than 30 mrem in an entire year.

How long do Doctors of Chiropractic go to school? 

Today's graduating Doctors of Chiropractic have studied and trained in a post-secondary college or university for at least five years. Just like medical or dental students, they must first complete undergraduate study before applying for admission to a chiropractic college.

Becoming a chiropractor is a demanding and highly rewarding path that includes a minimum of 4,500 hours of intense academic study including classroom learning, clinical science and internship training. During the course of their training, the Chiropractic student will have studied the following three areas:

-- Basic sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology (the study of diseases), biochemistry, clinical sciences, X-ray                    interpretation and differential diagnosis. 

-- Training in the philosophy and practice of chiropractic. 

-- Clinical internship with emphasis on hands-on care.

Your chiropractor is a primary care provider just like your family physician, optometrist or dentist. You do not need a referral from your medical doctor to see a chiropractor.

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