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1st Step Chiropractic: A different way to do chiropractic

May 26, 2010

Dr. Philip Schalow

In any group of people, you may find some who have derived great benefit from one of the hundreds of chiropractic procedures, and some that consider chiropractic a form of primitive shamanism. It is certainly a topic that generates passion, especially when you meet people whose lives have been restored by a carefully-delivered chiropractic adjustment. There are medical professionals who will never consider referring patients to a chiropractor, and those who do so routinely.

One group of medical doctors has subjected a chiropractic procedure to a thorough test to find out if hypertension can be reduced. Using the NUCCA procedure (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association), they were able to show that hypertension can indeed be reduced. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study at Rush University (Bakris, Dickholtz, Bell, et al…) compared 25 control subjects with 25 adjusted subjects. It was published in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension.

One aspect of the study was to find out if any of the participants could identify which group they were in–the control group (receiving a sham adjustment) or the treatment group (receiving the real NUCCA adjustment). A majority of those adjusted thought they had received a sham adjustment (13) and altogether, 23 out of the 50 study participants thought they had received a sham adjustment. Only a few discerned that they had received a real NUCCA adjustment.

So what is the significance of this?

Most people think of a chiropractic procedure as a vigorous, forceful one. But what if a different approach exists that is so subtle you cannot tell you are being adjusted? What if that approach was so powerful that it could even help your body heal from high blood pressure?

This approach is called the NUCCA procedure, and it involves specialized training and equipment to perform accurately. It is considered an Upper Cervical Approach to understanding how the spine and nerve system interact. The junction between the head and neck is considered the most critical area of the body, due to the complex traffic of nerve signals, blood supply and spinal fluid through that area. According to anatomists, Panjabi and White, this region involves “the most complex joints of the axial skeleton, both anatomically and kinematically.” In addition, it is the one area most susceptible to injury.

One would hope that great care is taken by the doctor in making changes to this sensitive region. With the NUCCA procedure, relative positions of the head and neck are made to within a hair’s thickness. The controlled adjustment moves the entire misalignment complex of the head and neck back into proper relation. Conditions as diverse as Autism Spectrum Disorder, hypertension, digestive disturbances and foot pain can respond to this correction.

In addition to the Rush University study showing an improvement in blood pressure, quality of life indexes showed a modest improvement over the eight-week study period. The authors suggest that a larger study may be clearer in demonstrating a difference on that score. One larger study is being conducted at the Palmer Center for Research to replicate the Rush University study.

But one thing is clear; you don’t have to “feel” like you had an adjustment to get a good adjustment!

Dr. Philip Schalow is the Rockford chiropractor who specializes in the NUCCA procedure. His office is 1st Step Chiropractic, S.C., 4519 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107. 815-398-4500. Open house on Saturday, June 5, 8-11.

From the May 26-June 1, 2010 issue

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