Precision Spinal Care, LLC

What is NUCCA?

What is NUCCA?

Chiropractic care in general, and NUCCA in particular, emphasizes the improvement of total body function rather than the treatment of diseases or symptoms. We are concerned with symptoms as indicators of underlying problems. However, absence of symptoms does not necessarily imply good health. Many debilitating diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes have no symptoms at first but become serious problems if left untreated. Our focus is to correct the cause of your condition rather than to simply treat your symptoms.

A NUCCA doctor is a unique part within chiropractic health care. After extensive additional training, a doctor of chiropractic may become a NUCCA doctor just as a medical doctor may choose to become a cardiologist. As with other specialties, care with NUCCA is more complex and quite unique.

NUCCA is specifically concerned with the relationship of the entire nervous system and how it is affected by spinal misalignment. NUCCA doctors work in a specific location just below the skull where the brain connects to the body. Damage or irritation to the central nervous system at this critical junction can interfere with communication between the brain and the body, resulting in numerous health problems. Re-aligning the spine and removing abnormal pressure from the nervous system will restore proper communication and allow healing to take place.

The bones of your spine are designed to encase and protect the important message-bearing nerves. However, when they are misaligned, they can irritate the nerves within them. The upper two bones, unlike any other in the spine, are held in place mainly by ligaments and muscles rather than the bones themselves. As a result, they are more susceptible to misalignment from traumas such as falls, auto accidents, sports injuries, etc. The misalignment in turn may produce irritation to the nervous system and thus compromise one’s health.

Upper cervical care aims to eliminate this source of abnormal pressure thus returning proper communication between the brain and the body. Without irritation, the nervous system can properly control our bodies’ functions and maintain our good health.

How Does The Brainstem Get Pinched?


The upper cervical spine consists of two specialized vertebrae called the Atlas, the first bone, and the Axis, the second bone. These bones do not have discs between them like all the other vertebrae and are shaped very differently from the rest of the spinal bones. Most importantly, these bones have the lower portion of the brainstem, the medulla oblongata (me-DULL-la ob'-long-GA-ta), housed in their center.

The medulla contains the three vital reflex centers: Cardiac center which regulates your heartbeat, Medullary rhythmicity area which regulates your breathing, and Vasomotor center which regulates your blood vessel diameter. It also contains your nonvital reflex centers which coordinate swallowing, vomiting, coughing, sneezing and hiccuping. The medulla's reticular formation controls consciousness and arousal from sleep. All motor and sensory impulses are relayed between the brain and the spinal cord in the medulla. This is where they cross to the opposite side of the body.

Five of the twelve cranial nerves originate in the medulla. CN VIII (Vestibulocochlear) is responsible for balance and hearing. CN IX (Glossopharyngeal) controls taste, swallowing and salivation. CN X (Vagus) controls impulses to and from the digestive organs. CN XI (Spinal accessory) controls the muscles responsible for head and neck movement, and CN XII (Hypoglossal) moves the tongue.

Therefore, if the Atlas or Axis is SUBLUXATED, or not in its proper position, the medulla gets pinched! The body's INNATE INTELLIGENCE prioritizes the comfort of the medulla by preventing the brainstem from being pinched at all costs.


During the birthing process, the largeness of the human head makes the alignment of Atlas a precarious task. This is especially true since we have to push through that small birth canal headfirst. During the first few years of life, the head will slip on and off the Atlas.

In children, one fall will knock it out of place and the next fall may knock it back in place. By puberty, most of us are stuck with a misalignment between the head and the neck. (Hence the term, "Off your rocker.")

To makes matters worse, even a minor auto accident can cause enough whiplash to remove the normal curve from your neck, aggravating this problem.

The innate intelligence of the body adapts to the subluxation between the head and the neck by making the spine out of balance and crooked. This will make it appear as if one leg is shorter than the other.

It is our job at Precision Spinal Care to locate, analyze and correct the subluxations in your spine.

Article was written originally by: Michael T. Burcon

History of NUCCA:

"In 1941 when Dr. John Francis Grostic of Ann Arbor walked into the office of Dr. Ralph R. Gregory seeking an atlas adjustment, a close friendship began which lasted until Dr. Grostic's untimely death in 1964. A victim of Hodgkin's disease, Dr. Grostic had been unable to obtain a corrective atlas adjustment prior to his visit to Dr. Gregory other than at the B. J. Palmer Chiropractic Clinic in Davenport, Iowa.

While both doctors had practiced full spine adjusting, their real concern was the upper cervical spine. It was only natural, therefore, that they should collaborate on this spinal area, making every possible attempt to evolve a more biomechanically accurate system of upper cervical subluxation correction.

To achieve this end, the installation of perfectly aligned x-ray equipment and precise patient placement became essential, permitting distortion free x-rays to be taken and making x-ray analysis with rotatory measurement acceptable. The first collimation was designed and installed.

Dr. Gregory had been reading Dr. A. A. Wernsing's The Atlas Specific about this time and was impressed by Wernsing's comment-due to the shape of the superior articular facets of the atlas, the atlas moves laterally as if on the rim of circle-" (1941). He showed the Wernsing book to Dr. Grostic, the axis superior articulations were added, and the condylar-axial concept became the starting point for what was to become the Grostic Technique.

In early 1943 Dr. Grostic, who was not satisfied with the former methods of determining atlas laterality, developed the prototype of the instrument which was to become the cephalometer, a skull-divider for establishing the central skull line. When joined to the atlas plane line, these two lines formed two angles with atlas laterality being on the side of the acute angle.

This system of establishing atlas laterality was checked for months by both Grostic and Gregory. It was found to be consistent and so remains today. Rapidly following were the concepts of atlas-odontoid relationship, axis-spinous position, the lower angle, the method for determining atlas rotation, the discontinuance of the recoil for the triceps pull adjustment, and the horizontal resultant. Analytical instruments were perfected, adjusting tables modified, and adjustment coordinators made.

While this work between 1941 and 1946 hardly deserved the appellation "research", it did provide a biomechanical basis for the further evolution of upper cervical though mostly a trial and error procedure. Several Chiropractors by this time had received personal benefit from the work and they were asking for a seminar. In the fall of 1946, the first Grostic seminar was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, limited to eighteen participants. From that time forward into 1964, seminars were held at various times yearly. Dr. Gregory assisted Dr. Grostic in nearly all these seminars through the eighteen years.

Immediately following the death of Dr. Grostic in 1964, the group split into two factions, the larger one establishing headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Gregory did not wish to continue teaching seminars, but to concentrate on advancing the basic work. In early 1966, however, he was contacted by phone by Dr. L. H. McLellan of Mesa, Arizona who requested that Dr. Gregory conduct seminars for several Chiropractors because of his close affiliation with Dr. Grostic during the developmental years of the work. Dr. Gregory finally agreed and held the first seminar in 1966 at the Howard Johnson Motel in Monroe. By 1978 the seminars were approved for license renewal by the Michigan State Board of Examiners.

Dr. Gregory felt that in view of recent schism among Grostic practitioners, an organization should be started to conduct future seminars and research. He consulted with Mr. Donald A. Miller, a Detroit attorney and former friend and legal adviser to Dr. Grostic, who with other interested Chiropractors formed The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, Inc. (NUCCA) a fraternal organization, on April 16, 1966. Mr. Miller completed all the legal arrangements, became the NUCCA attorney, providing counsel to the board.

Elected first President was Dr. Irvin Mathias of Indiana; Vice-President, Dr. Albert Dick of Michigan; Secretary, Dr. Robert Kemp of Michigan; Treasurer, Dr. Marshall Dickholtz of Illinois, and three NUCCA directors: Drs. Max Foster and Ralph R. Gregory of Michigan and Andrew Mathias of Indiana.

The newly elected board adopted the NUCCA emblem and authorized an official organ, NUCCA News, of which Dr. Gregory was appointed editor. The first publication was issued in December of 1966. Harry Long, Ph.D. was appointed the first research advisor in 1967.

As ever-increasing clinical observations arose, hypotheses were formulated that needed testing. Research expanded, re-examination of the original basic work had to be done, and newer methods of subluxation analysis and correction developed. To accomplish this task, the

NUCCA board was advised by Mr. Miller that a research organization must be set up. NUCCA, Mr. Miller stated, was a fraternal organization and could not conduct research.

The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research Association, (NUCCRA) was incorporated for research purposes only, due to the efforts of Mr. Miller, on October 6, 1971. Application for an exempt status was made to the federal government, and after examination, was finally granted. Professor Daniel C. Seemann of The University of Toledo was appointed research advisor in 1971.

It was decided that NUCCA should publish a more scientifically-oriented paper and the name NUCCA News was changed to The Monograph, meaning "learned treatise on a particular subject" and proposed by Dr. Seemann.

The accomplishments of NUCCA and NUCCRA have been many. Outstanding among them are: (1) The development of the double-pivot-point system in x-ray analysis; (2) The development of the triceps pull adjustment; (3) The designing of better film analytical instruments; (4) The development of biomechanical concepts in film analysis and adjusting; (5) The design and development over seven years of the Anatometer by Dr. Gregory and Peter Benesh which measures bodily distortions before and after the C-1 adjustment, providing proof of the effects of a C-1 subluxation on the body and their correction; (6) The design and development of a multiple support headpiece for extreme subluxations; (7) The establishment of a vertical axis for C-1 subluxations; (8) The classification of C-1 subluxations into basic types; (9) The location of the skull center of gravity and (10) The identification of the components of the lever system and their relationship inherent in an Occipital-Atlanto-Axial subluxation.

These developments, and many more, constitute an on-going process. Re-evaluation of the basic work is a constant procedure. Future goals in research now under advisement are an optical scanning feasibility study to scientifically prove the NUCCRA system, a read-out instrument to test the adjustment, and a fool-proof system for checking leg disparity from which better correlations can be made.

NUCCA has given the profession more biomechanical data than probably any other Chiropractic entity in the past twenty years concerning the subluxation, its effects on the spinal column and human body, how to restore its misalignments to the vertical axis, and has shown acceptable and measurable proof of the benefits of the Chiropractic adjustment on the human body. This it has done for the benefit of the patient, the Chiropractor, and the profession."

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