Monday, November 5, 2012

Questioning Upper Cervical Care Is A Good Thing

(Editor's Note:  The following is an email conversation that I recently had with a man who is under Upper Cervical Care in Texas and is having some concerns about care.  Questioning the care is a good thing as it allows us to clarify the objective of Upper Cervical Care and that is just as important for the doctor as it is for the patient.  I hope it aids others as the conversation aided him.  It has been edited to remove personal info on the patient and the doctors that he is seeing.)

Dear Dr. Robertson,

I just wanted to see if I can get your opinion on an issue I am facing.  I have read your blog up and down.  It is one of the things that keeps me going to an Upper Cervical doctor.  I’ve been going to one for almost four months and it has been rough.  My family has been against me going the whole time, especially my wife, and I continue to go because I think it is eventually going to pay off, and it has helped me in some ways.

I’ll keep my story as short as possible.  Twelve months ago I was a healthy 39 year old Dad.  I have had great health all my life except for having to take medication that completely controls seizures that I started having 13 years ago.  Then, I jumped into the bottom of a slide while playing TAG with my daughter exactly 12 months ago.  Things weren’t too bad at first but I’ve had a whole host of symptoms since then (tingling, numbness, and pain in hands and feet, heavy legs, dizziness, pain at the base of the skull, headaches, hand coordination issues, neck pain, back pain, etc.).  I saw three neurosurgeons over the course of the first six months and they all focused on three herniated discs in my neck that happen to be located in a location in which my spine is moderately narrow.  Two said no surgery at this time and one recommended surgery.  They weren’t too worried about a subluxation at C1 and C2, although one did have a dynamic CT run on me which showed more rotation to the right than the left and said I had some instability.

A friend recommended Upper Cervical (UC) to me and I started almost four months ago.  I live in San Antonio and drove up to Austin for each appointment.  I pretty much went weekly for three and a half months.  The day after the first adjustment I almost went to the ER.  My arms and legs tightened up so much that I had a hard time walking and using my arms.  I kept going though and the pain at the base of my skull, the headaches, and neck tension pretty much went away.  My legs also started to feel less heavy and have gotten pretty close to being normal again.  The feeling in my legs completely changed after that first adjustment and it felt like I was learning how to walk again.  They felt pretty bad for that first month but have slowly gotten better, although occasionally they go back to being heavy again.  Hand coordination issues, and especially dizziness have gotten a lot worse though and have continued to be worse.

Over the course of these four months I have been seen by two of the UC doctors in Austin and had 9 adjustments.  One of the Dr.’s in Austin recommended that I start seeing a UC doctor in San Antonio so I started going to one here about two weeks ago.  He has adjusted me once, four days ago, and yesterday I felt the worst I have felt since that first adjustment.  Granted, I’m used to having bad days, especially the 3rd day after an adjustment, but this one was bad and I had not felt that bad in quite some time.  It also came on the heels of the longest run of feeling decent after an adjustment so it was a shock.  I thought I was making some progress except for the dizziness.  Yesterday made me feel like I haven’t made any progress and it has made me start to lost hope in UC.

Today I ran some numbers, and prior to UC I felt decent 44% of the time.  Since starting UC four months ago I feel decent 43% of the time.  My wife and Mom have been on me to stop going to a UC, and I have started seeing a Prolotherapy Doctor about having the ligaments around C1 and C2 injected with Platelet Rich Plasma in hopes of strengthening them.  I’m going to give UC some more time but I am losing hope.

Sorry for the long e-mail.  I just wanted to get your thoughts.  Do you think Upper Cervical Care will eventually work for me?  Also, have you ever had any patients combine it with Prolotherapy or cold laser therapy?

Upper Cervical Patient

Dear Upper Cervical Patient,

Thanks for the email.

It pains me to hear of a story like yours.  I can see your frustration and honestly if it was me I probably would not have stuck with it as long as you have. 

But that being said, I have a question before we get into your options.

Which upper cervical technique (method of adjusting the upper cervical spine) do they use?

There are about a half dozen well known upper cervical techniques and I have seen situations where a patient is not getting the results they are looking for and switch to a different technique within upper cervical makes a huge difference. 

Your mode of onset is consistent with a problem in the upper cervical spine so it may be just about finding the right technique for you.

It is also possible, depending on the upper cervical doctors' findings, that you may need something else to correct the problem.  But do know that there is an answer somewhere even if it is only in you...we just need to find it. Your body knows how to maintain itself and heal itself.  It has been doing a marvelous job of it the last 39 years.  We just need to figure out what the roadblock is this time.  It may be upper cervical and a change in approach to that or something completely different dealt with differently by someone different. 

Remember the objective of upper cervical care, as I mention again and again in the my posts, "is to correct head neck misalignment that is interfering with proper brain to body communication. When this is corrected the body functions at a higher level and can often correct other problems more efficiently on its own. Please do not confuse upper cervical care as a treatment for any condition, disease or symptom."

We free up a "stumbling block" a "stress response" a "locked spine" to allow the body and the wisdom that runs it the chance to improve and maintain itself.  Now this sounds wonderful and is, but it doesn't mean it is the answer to some, all or any of your symptoms.  We hope it is because it is a simple non-invasive way of letting the body do what it does (heal and be well in all aspects of life) but at times it needs other things to, to get us through a rough patch.  Either way the body always needs a good nerve supply between brain and body and that is our focus.

Get the answers to the two questions at the beginning and we will go from there.

I hope I can be of help...It is why I am here.

Yours in service,
Dr. Travis Robertson

Dear Dr. Robertson,

Thank you so much for your response.  That is a key point that I sometimes forget, in that the goal of UC is to correct the misalignment.  No matter if it helps my symptoms or not, I believe correcting the misalignment is important.  When my alignment is correct I feel taller and more balanced than I have in years, maybe decades.  That, along with the fact the corrections have made several of my symptoms better, is why I continue to go.

Also, don’t get me wrong.  Upper Cervical Care has helped me in a lot of ways.  Like I mentioned, some of my symptoms are completely gone and my legs seem to keep getting somewhat better.  My one big worry, is that the adjustments are making my dizziness worse.  My theory is that my ligaments around the atlas and axis must be stretched due to how I hit my head, and this is keeping me from holding the corrections.  After holding my second correction for three weeks I haven’t been able to hold one more than two weeks since.    In your experience, can the ligaments and tendons around the atlas and axis heal and tighten up over time?   

Both UC doctors in Austin practice the NUCCA technique, and the one in San Antonio uses Orthospinology and utilizes a Laney instrument to adjust.  I have had about five pretty decent stretches of days in which I was feeling pretty good, and even normal on three different occasions, after adjustments via NUCCA.  They both had me feeling pretty good at times.  I just could never hold the adjustment for an increasing amount of time so one of them suggested staying closer to home and not making that drive once a week.  It is too early to tell how I will do under Orthospinology.  I’ve had a couple of rough days since my last correction, the first with Orthospinology, but of course I had bad days while under NUCCA as well.

I believe in Upper Cervical Care.  I want to prove that it works.  Everyone around me thinks I should give it up but I know that it has had some effect on all of my symptoms and I think it will eventually help all of my symptoms.  I just worry about the dizziness and not being able to hold the corrections so far.  Both of those worries have led me to Prolotherapy for possible injection of my own Platelet Rich Plasma into those ligaments.  I’m not at that point yet, but it is an option if things don’t get better.

I really appreciate your time and response.  Also, thanks for the great job that you are doing with your blog.  Know that it is helping those of us out there that are in care or thinking about care.  If you have any suggestions I’d be glad to hear them, but I know that you are busy with your own practice and blog.  I really appreciate you listening and let me know what you think about the ligaments being able to heal.

Thanks Again,
Upper Cervical Patient    

Dear Upper Cervical Patient,

Yes, in my opinion, if given the right conditions, the ligaments and tendons can heal.  This is more likely possible the longer you hold your corrections.  Our ligaments and tendons and the rest of our bodies are always in a constant state of repair and renewal.  We continuously remodel our bodies based on the stress that are put on it combined with our needs as a living individual.  It is an ongoing 'dance'.  I would continue then with what you are doing. 

The upper cervical area is very influential to our sense of balance so if the damage was significant the body would have locked that area to protect the important structures and then adapted its balance system to the change.  Now they are attempting to restore proper alignment to allow for more complete healing and it is disturbing the 'post injury re-calibrated balance centers'.  That would be my best educated guess anyway for the potential increase in dizziness.  The adjustments that you are receiving are very gentle so the potential to cause damage is extremely small.

I have included a copy of my book in pdf format.  It may also prove useful in your journey.

Keep me in the loop and I will offer what help I can. Never lose sight of your goals but also never lose sight of the upper cervical objective.  That will guide you in what else you may need to do, besides upper cervical, to achieve the results you are looking for.

Yours in Service,
Dr. Travis Robertson

Dear Dr. Robertson,

Your explanation on the dizziness increase makes a lot of sense.  That is the best possible explanation that I have heard.  Maybe if I finally get to that holding stage my body will be able to re-calibrate and it will go away.  I had been thinking of trying to combine acupuncture and upper cervical care to see if that helps with the dizziness.   

Thank you so much for your help and for including a copy of your book.  I will definitely utilize it.

Upper Cervical Patient


  1. Really it's a good informative blog.Thanks for your valuable information Upper Cervical Care.

    Laser Spine Surgery San Antonio

  2. Were you seeing Williams Upper Cervical in San Antonio? And which Austin NUCCA office were you seeing? I've had a very similar experience..


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