NUCCA Chiropractic: My Experience
July 17. I go to a Dr. P, NUCCA chiropractor. I see him because I read that this type of chiropractor can have success with helping malocclusion, or bad bite. I also have tight hip flexors, a femur that turns outward when it shouldn't, and general asymmetry due to my scoliosis and spinal fusion (T3-L4).
The focus of the NUCCA, or National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, is the relationship between the upper cervical spine (neck) and its influence on the central nervous system and brain stem function. Practitioners say that this relationship affects every aspect of human function, from regulating hormones and controlling movement, to how we hear and see.
I'd already seen a regular chiropractor, who I liked, but who didn't think he could help my malocclusion too much. So I searched online to find someone who could. I came up with NUCCA, Atlantotec (Atlas vertebra realignment technique), and a Rothbart Proprioceptive Therapy. Not to mention cranio-sacral work. This last I now try to do once a week.
My first visit at Dr. P's found me getting three head xrays. Yuck, xrays. Well, apparently one millerem is pretty small. I am told it's 1/300th of a low back xray. Dr. P had me lie on a table so he could measure my legs. My left was 3/8" shorter. But this was due to my left hip's misalignment, not a true length discrepancy. We did some scans on a computer where a probe ran up the back of my neck. I stood on a dual weight thing to see how well I was distributing my body weight. We also did a Pulse Wave Profiler that determines the body's ability to adapt to the environment, a Surface EMG to evaluate the function of the muscles that support and move the spine, and a thermal scan that assesses the part of the nervous system that helps control organs, glands and blood vessels. It is said that temperature is an accurate indicator as to where stress is building up. I have not gotten the results of these yet.
July 18. Dr. P has now gone over the xrays and scan results and can discuss them with me. I have brain stem pressure, which is a result of my head and neck not being aligned. The spacing in my neck vertebrae are okay but my neck is straight. It does not have a normal curve. He sees this a lot. We need to remove the pressure on the Atlas (C-1, or the first cervical vertebra), which is also tilted. My head tilts to the right. Muscle contracture is pulling my left hip, causing the left leg to be shorter.
He can definitely fix the hip alignment. And he is 90% positive he can help with the malocclusion. We will give it three months of seeing him once per week.
For my first adjustment, I lay on my left side with my head on a padded table part which he adjusted to the right position, then he pushed gently down on the side of my neck several times until he heard some clicks (not clicks in my neck). Then we redid some of the scans/measurements and they looked better than the first visit. I also feel like I am standing straighter. Apparently these adjustments don't last at first because the muscles need to be retrained. But so far so good.
July 25. My second adjustment. I put on the funny velcro shoes and lay down. He saw that the left leg was shorter once again. I knew not to expect last week's adjustment to hold for long. Then I lay on my left side, he did some gentle pressure near my ear (where the Atlas vertebra is) for a few times, then measured my legs again and they were even. I mentioned that my cranial-sacral person had said that maybe I should walk around for a bit after the adjustment instead of jumping into the car for an hour's drive right away. He said fine, I'll check you when you're back from your walk around the lake. Fifteen minutes later he measured me again and my legs were the same length. So we know the adjustment holds for at least fifteen minutes! I had to do another head xray. He will study it and see how well the adjustment affected my cervical spine. Last week's xray showed that it hadn't the way he'd wanted to, so he adjusted his adjustment today - came at it from a slightly different angle he said.
So, two NUCCA adjustments down, 10 to go! And we'll see where we are 2.5 months from now. My neck felt less stiff after the adjustment, and my legs did feel more even.
August 1. I lay on the table. He compared my leg lengths: even! For the first time in four visits. He did the neck probe scan thing: all green on both sides. Previously, I'd had yellow, meaning mild abnormality. I stepped into onto the Anatometer. This machine showed less rotation. As I stood there, he used an activator once on my right low back. Painless. Apparently my correction/adjustment from last week has held.
Needed to do a vortex though. What's a vortex? I asked him. Another xray. This time my chin was held forward in the strap. This was the second vortex xray in four visits. He will study it and then let me know next week how it looked.
And then I was done. A seven minute appointment. I feel no improvement in my malocclusion, or posture really, but he said the muscles take a while to follow.
August 8. Today I saw Dr. H instead of Dr. P. He measured my legs. Yup, one longer than the other. I stood on the thing where he puts the calipers over each hip. Yup, one was quite higher than the other, and there was rotation. He stood me against the wall with some marks on it. Yes, my head was a few degrees tilted.
Then he had me lie on my left side. It took a few attempts to get my head lying in the right position on top of the raised platform. Then he did the hand press thing and I heard some cracking in his hands. This went on for one or two minutes. Then we did the first three posture tests again and all were much better, including leg length equality. He said that my Atlas was tilted and that he straightened it out. And that the brain will send wrong impulses to my body when it's tilted.
I felt like I was maybe walking more aligned as I walked to my car. My left foot is still less everted/turned out. Is there a noticeable difference in my bite yet? Nope. But I will keep trying.
August 26 Skipped the last two weeks. Will see Dr. P again this week. I did talk with him on the phone though, because my insurance did not cover all those xrays we took so I wanted to ask him about that. Re: my treatment status, he said that he wanted to give us a month working together (that's four visits) to see how the adjustments were holding. He said they were holding. However, I feel the same.
August 27. He tells me that out of all my visits, I have ‘held’ only one time. I say maybe this isn’t working. He reminded me that it may take three months before knowing if it will help. He works on cases like mine a lot and most of the time they do improve. Maybe 1 out of 10 won’t improve after 12 visits. And maybe a third of patients won’t see benefit five visits in. It takes time for the body to hold the cervical adjustments. I could see Dr. Morgan, the dentist he works with for malocclusions. I will probably go see her.
September 4. Dr. P and I talk by phone. Looking at last week's xray, he says that he's gotten the pressure of my brain stem, which is a good thing. So that now my head and neck in relation to my atlas is better. But the fact that my head still lists to the right makes him think that that is what is affecting my jaw. We need to take care of the head tilt. He didn't think that the tilt to the right was because my neck goes to the left because my torso goes to the left because of my rod. He thinks this thing is irrelevant to the rod, which I think sounds good. So, I don't need to see him weekly. He highly recommends I go to Dr. Morgan the dentist, who does TMJ treatment with an appliance, that you wear on the bottom teeth, all the time. And who charges $4500 for the whole treatment (I called her office). After I see her, I'll go back to Dr. P to fill him in, and for him to adjust me to keep the pressure of the brain stem.
September 17. Ah well, the story is not yet over but I believe my trips to Dr. P are. If I felt any different for it, I would continue to see him for atlas adjustment. But it's a long drive, costs $50 each time, and I feel the same now as when I saw him the first time back in July. My head tilts to the right. Must be a scoliosis/misalignment thing. I will see Dr. Morgan next week to talk about teeth. I am looking forward to it.
I am sure that NUCCA Chiropractic helps some people. And maybe it even helped me, without my really being able to tell (pressure off brain stem and all). So I don't discourage you from going! If I lived nearer, I might continue to go for a tune-up each month. If you've gotten NUCCA-adjusted, let me know. I'd love to hear your story.