You Might Think Chiropractors Are “Bone” Doctors, But In Fact They Are More Like “Nerve” Doctors
Natural Health Symposium July 21 we have a exciting line of up speakers and vendors who will share their expertise in health and wellness. One such vendor is Dr. Collin Struble of the Wellness Center of Boise at the Natural Health Symposium. Dr Struble provides us some insight to the importance of chiropractic.
When someone tells you that they are a chiropractor, what do you think? What probably comes to mind is “a bone cracker”. Well, just as there are many types of surgeons, each with their own specialty, there are also many types of chiropractors, each with their own specialty and techniques.
You might think that chiropractors are “bone” doctors, but in fact they are actually “nerve” doctors. The body naturally heals itself through our central nervous system. The body knows what it needs to be healthy, and when there is proper nerve flow, the body can better diagnose and heal itself through the nervous system. The spinal cord is th
e channel through which all of our nerves run. The only way to keep the nerves free of interference is by realigning the bones that cause the interference. Chiropractors are uniquely trained to locate and remove the nerve interference so the body has the capacity to do what it has been made to do – heal itself – naturally – without drugs – without surgery.
After years of study at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, I was trained and certified in many different chiropractic techniques, including the ability to be a “bone cracker” through manual adjustments. However, I feel that our bodies experience enough trauma from the daily activities of our life, and though I will perform low force manual adjustments and utilize many techniques to aid in the healing of the body, I prefer to utilize one particular technique. This technique, called the Blair Upper Cervical Technique, focuses on the “power of the upper neck”. It is a subtle, passive adjustment that is extremely powerful. Many healthcare providers do not recognize or understand the power, and if they did, they may refer their patients to a chiropractor instead of prescribing medication or surgery.
Through years of study, clinical practice and research, I have compiled key points into a handout to help my patients understand how they can achieve health through this very specific technique. To start, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the spine. The spine is technically divided into 3 major regions, the cervical or neck region, the middle or thoracic region and the lower or lumbar region, followed by 2 additional lower regions, called the sacrum and coccyx. Each region is distinguished by a specific curve. The cervical and lumbar regions have a lordotic or forwards curve, and the thoracic region has a kyphotic or backwards curve. There are seven vertebrae in the neck numbered from C1 through C7. Your skull sits directly on the C1 vertebra, named the atlas. Derived from Greek mythology, Atlas had the weight of the celestial spheres on his shoulders, just like your atlas vertebra has the weight of your head on it.
Your head, which typically weighs around 10 or 11 pounds, rests upon the two-ounce atlas vertebra. The atlas is also often called the “yes” bone because your head rocks back and forth on its two articulations when you nod your head to indicate “yes”. That is why, when your skull slips partially off one of these atlas joints in one direction or another, pressure is applied to the brain stem.
Your second vertebra (C2) is called the axis. The axis is the vertebra that allows you to turn your head left and right. It’s referred to as the “no” bone because it allows your head to rotate left and right as you shake your head “no”. Your atlas and axis are the only two vertebrae which do not have inter-vertebral discs between them like the rest of the vertebrae in your spine. In addition, they are the two most freely moveable vertebrae; and as a result, are the ones that are most susceptible to becoming misaligned.
Your brainstem extends down into the atlas and axis cavity so your spinal cord basically begins with the C3 vertebra. If your top two vertebrae are out of alignment, they put pressure on the base of your brainstem. This, in turn, interferes with the free flow of signals back and forth to your brain and the entire nervous system. This is termed subluxation and can cause serious consequences in the body. When the upper neck is out of its proper position, it can irritate, constrict or disrupt vital nerve signals to any portion of your body. This can cause many ailments, such as joint pain, organ dysfunction, lowered immune system and countless other conditions and dis-ease that you would not ordinarily relate to a problem originating in your neck. As Dr. Burcon explains, “Five of the twelve cranial nerves originate in the brainstem. The base of the brain controls many important bodily functions, such as breathing, blood pressure, the sleep center, and balance.” In addition, if the atlas is subluxated, the spine cannot maintain its proper curves, causing issues like scoliosis.
When a C1 or C2 subluxation occurs, the weight of your head is no longer balanced or positioned correctly on your atlas, causing your head to tilt. This causes the rest of your body to compensate for that tilt and shift of weight. Our bodies response is for one shoulder to drop down, one hip to come up, hence, bringing that leg up with it. This creates imbalance in your body which we call a functional short leg. One leg appears relatively shorter than the other and you are not walking with a normal gait. The impact of this is often realized as headaches, neck, back and extremity pain.
This head-neck misalignment is where upper cervical chiropractic treatment comes in. Adjusting the atlas (and axis) can take this pressure off your brainstem, alleviating many problems by allowing your brain to send its healing messages throughout your body and allowing your spine and nervous system to revert to its proper alignment and function.
This is why I practice the Blair Upper Cervical Technique. Dr. William G. Blair began to develop this distinct method because he was concerned with the accuracy of the traditional adjustments. By analyzing the vertebrae for asymmetry, he calculated margins of misalignment that revealed different effects on the movement between the head and neck. He found that through imaging he could arrive at calculations tailored to each misalignment. I was impressed by the results of this technique and wanted my patients to benefit from the accuracy of this method. With this technique, I take a special set of x-rays to look at and analyze the C1 vertebrae. With these x-rays, I am able to determine exactly how the C1 has misaligned and at what angle, realizing every person’s unique anatomy. By analyzing the x-rays, I am able to measure out and generate a “listing” or calculation which tells me at which angle to adjust the patient in order to return the C1 back to its proper position. I utilize a special drop table for this adjustment, have the patient lie down on their side, then use a protractor to line up at the exact angle of the joint. It takes these elements together with a proper stance and specific motion to deliver the perfect adjustment. It’s an accurate, mathematic adjustment that gets precise results every time.
Through this very scientific method of chiropractic care, the body is able to function as it was designed, like a super highway of information, with the innate ability to keep itself healthy and happy…naturally.
Listen to more insight from Dr. Collin Struble at
July 21 from 10 a.m .to 5 pm
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