Enduring car accidents and additional traumas as a young woman lead Christine to slowly develop chronic, debilitating pain over the last two decades.
“I was in constant pain from head to toe. The neck pain in particular was unbearable,” the 60-year-old from Pittsburgh said. In addition, she suffered from fatigue, mid and low back pain, knee pain, restricted breathing, and burning nerve pain in her neck and arm.
The neck pain eventually became so severe she was unable to work. Engulfed in so much misery, Christine would have done anything to stop the pain. In fact, she had tried nearly everything: numerous chiropractors, physical therapists, an acupuncturist, massage therapy, reflexology, myofascial work, an anti-inflammatory diet, in addition to traditional medicine. The path toward wellness can be an “excruciating journey physically, emotionally, and spiritually when every road is a dead end,” Christine lamented.
Although these treatments resulted in some, small improvements, it wasn’t until she met Dr. Timothy Strittmatter, an Upper Cervical Spinal care doctor in Greensburg, that she finally found true relief. Though her friends had shared how the “NUCCA” (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association) procedure relieved their long-standing pain for conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, Christine arrived at Dr. Strittmatter’s office with tempered enthusiasm. During her first visit, she asked through tears, “Am I just hopeless?” Dr. Tim replied with conviction, “There is always hope with the NUCCA procedure.”
Upper Cervical chiropractors specialize in correcting a small misalignment of the atlas & axis (upper neck) known as the Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC). With this disorder, one leg appears to be shorter than the other, hips & shoulders are also unlevel, the head is tilted to one side, and abnormal muscle balance and joint functioning are experienced. Most people have experienced these posture distortions, as 90% of all individuals have ASC.
In Christine’s case, Dr. Strittmatter discovered that her atlas (C1 vertebra) was tipped five degrees forward, eliminating the natural curvature of the human neck. As this misalignment straightened her neck unnaturally, it was impossible for her to lie flat. He also found that her upper cervical spine was turned to the right, causing her lower spine to turn left.
Correcting her severely twisted spine had dramatic results. After her first Upper Cervical alignment, Christine returned home to perform her daily chores and started tearing up. When her husband arrived at home, he was initially alarmed. But her tears were joyful, as it was the first time in years the neck pain began to release its unrelenting assault on her. “It was like a long-overdue, answered prayer,” she recalled.
WHAT IS UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC?
The first spinal adjustment ever performed was on the Upper Cervical Spine in 1895 by Dr. D.D. Palmer, who restored a deaf man’s hearing. Although the practice faded out over time, it has seen a resurgence in the past 15 years and is the fastest growing area in chiropractic, according to Dr. Ray Drury, the author of The Best-Kept Secret in Healthcare: No Drugs or Surgeries Required.
The premise of Upper Cervical chiropractic revolves around the brain stem. This posterior part of the brain exits the head through the top two bones of the spine (the atlas and axis), and it’s structurally continuous with the spinal cord. The brain stem works like a switchboard operator, controlling all messages between the brain and all the body’s systems.
“If one of those bones gets even slightly out of line, it comes into contact with the brain stem, interfering with communication signals between the brain and the body,” Strittmatter explained.
Using gentle adjustments to the Upper Cervical Spine, NUCCA treatment has been found to help people with ailments such as ear and sinus infections, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, sleeping disorders, digestive problems, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, immune disorders, trigeminal neuralgia, and seizures.
In fact, a recent study conducted in Italy found that Upper Cervical chiropractic adjustments for patients with chronic venous cerebral-spinal insufficiency and multiple sclerosis improved function in multiple areas of the body after just six weeks. Also, a 2008 study conducted by an Upper Cervical doctor and a hypertension (high blood pressure) specialist found that precisely and gently repositioning the subjects’ atlas vertebrae – eliminating its contact with the brainstem – resulted in an average blood pressure drop of 17 points among the test group, as compared to the control group.
The number and frequency of spinal corrections required for healing depend upon the individual, the degree of misalignment, and the amount of time the individual has been out of alignment. “As corrections hold longer, patients need to see us less and less often,” Strittmatter said. The treatments may initially cause soreness, particularly for someone who has been experiencing pain for several years; however, those mild side effects resolve themselves over the course of the treatment plan.
Instead of treating the symptoms, as Western medicine does, Upper Cervical chiropractic looks to identify and treat the root cause. “We don’t treat conditions; we treat the body. When everything is balanced and there is no interference, the body is a self-healing organism,” Strittmatter said.
Christine has made remarkable strides over the past few months, including dramatic decreases in pain in her neck and throughout her body. She said, “For the first time in decades, I have hope that I can once again feel complete and function normally. It was my time to be healed. I only wish I’d known about Dr. Tim and Upper Cervical Care 20 years ago.”