When I found out that I had mild scoliosis, the first thing on my mind was “I need to go to a chiropractor.” From the little I knew of the practice, I thought it was what will help put my spine to right.
That assumption is somewhat correct, but it’s actually a lot more than that. Corrective chiropractic care is actually more about prevention and holistic healing rather than cure, although it has a wealth of benefits that help alleviate the symptoms of a wide variety of illnesses and discomfort.
The other thing that I learned when I actually went to a chiropractor is, if you find out you have scoliosis in your adult years, there’s little to no chance it can ever be healed; it can only be managed, and chiropractic care can help.
And that’s another thing I realized: You don’t have to be old or ill to go to a chiropractor. In fact, it’s best to go while you are still young and healthy to prevent illness in the future and for your overall wellbeing and optimal health.
One more thing I learned is that there are several types of chiropractic techniques—over a hundred, in fact. But, if there’s anything you must try, or at least try FIRST, it has to be the NUCCA procedure or that of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association.
Why Upper Cervical Chiropractic is what everyone needs most
It focuses on upper cervical care or treating the upper cervical spine (neck), also known as the base of your skull. And if you remember your basic human biology classes, the skull protects your brain, which is the control tower of your body that sends messages down the spinal cord and through the nerves throughout your body (and that’s the Central Nervous System or CNS for you, folks).
If the skull protects your brain, the spine protects your spinal cord, and the point where they meet on your neck is protected by the bone called the atlas. This bone is the most important one you must align, as it dictates the alignment of other bones in the spine below. This is actually the first thing you must treat before you move on to traditional chiropractic techniques since it fixes your very alignment. Get a specific correction for the atlas before you move on to getting a full spine procedure because the latter will never be completely effective if the atlas is not in alignment.
Keeping your atlas healthy helps improve CNS functions, thereby improving the rest of your body’s functions, everything from regulating your hormones to controlling your senses and the movement of your muscles—even thinking and breathing! It’s definitely more about having a better quality of life.
Without being too technical, just remember that if there’s anything you should care for and make sure is in tip-top shape, it has to be this. You go to a dentist when your teeth hurt, a dermatologist when you’re breaking out, and a gynecologist for your routine reproductive system check-up—why not regularly go to a doctor that helps care for your brain, spinal cord, and spinal nerves?
The two bones that need to be aligned
Imagine if your atlas is not in its proper position or is misaligned—how can your brain properly control the rest of your body? And how can you even consider yourself completely healthy when there’s something amiss in your very spine? Focusing on and correcting the alignment of the atlas can help heal other health issues and has amazing healing effects. And you won’t even know this until you get yourself checked.
The good news is, there is a chiropractor specializing in upper cervical care, although there’s only one licensed NUCCA specialist in the Philippines as of press time: Dr. Miguel Flores, whose clinic N8 Upper Cervical Chiropractic is located at Unit 301-B Jupiter Place, 136-138 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati (in the building where Centerstage Jupiter is).
Treatment area at N8 Upper Cervical Chiropractic
(Reminder: Always check the license and association permit of any chiropractor you will visit.)
In brief: The benefits of Upper Cervical Care
- Your posture can improve.
- You’ll feel taller.
- Back pain relief
- It helps restore body balance.
- It makes and keeps you healthy.
What to expect on your first visit
The best time for a person to have his or her atlas checked and adjusted is when he or she is still growing—in other words, when one is still a child. If you have kids, get them checked as soon as possible to get more out of the adjustment. If you can have your baby checked immediately after birth, that would be best, since sometimes the atlas gets shifted by trauma from birth.
If it’s your first time to go to an upper cervical chiropractor, you’ll need an average of 8 to 12 visits, then the doctor will re-assess you for lifetime treatment. The first session involves a general assessment of your health, habits, and posture, followed by three x-rays (from the side, front, and top of head and neck) specific to the practice of upper cervical chiropractic. This is usually the longest session. The doctor will then study your x-rays, posture, and result of the initial consultation, and based on all these will determine if you need an atlas or spine adjustment on your next visit.
What to expect on your first adjustment
If the doctor finds your atlas is out of alignment, he will adjust just the atlas. If it is aligned, that’s when he will proceed with more traditional chiropractic treatments.
The NUCCA procedure is a non-invasive technique that you will barely feel. It’s actually very quick—less than a minute, or around 30 seconds actually. It’s also not your expected chiropractic practice—no popping or twisting. Dr. Flores himself admitted it’s underwhelming.
This is where I got my upper cervical adjustment.
During my first adjustment (yes, sadly, my atlas is not in alignment), I just lay there on my side with my legs bent a little. I only felt a light pressure, like a vibration, but according to Dr. Flores, he actually applied a lot of pressure to correct the spine. Indeed, it seems he did exert a great deal of effort, which I noticed in his breathing and how he wiped his brow after, but apart from the vibrations, I didn’t really feel any significant pressure on my neck or spine. The more amazing thing was, it aligned my atlas immediately.
Results: After making me take a crucial 10- to 15-minute rest, Dr. Flores checked my posture, and instantly, there was improvement. My right hip was lower than my left by 2.5 degrees, and immediately after, it was 0.00 degrees—perfectly level! My right shoulder was lower than my left by 3 degrees, and after the first adjustment, it was just one degree. The shoulder supposedly takes longer to correct because of muscle development on our more dominant side (read: the side we use most).
He also gave me a handout for how to properly maintain my posture and alignment. He also recommended that I don’t do anything strenuous for two to three days and just take it easy, to allow my body to recover well and to the best of its abilities. I was scheduled to attend yoga class a few hours after my first treatment, but Dr. Flores recommended that if I couldn’t completely avoid doing yoga or any workout for 2-3 days after the first correction/adjustment, I should at least not over-exert myself during class, especially when it comes to postures that would cause my atlas to misalign again.
There are three expected responses after the initial treatment.
1. No response, since it’s been like that for years.
2. You’ll feel good—feel more relaxed, sleep better, whatever pain that’s there will decrease, and increased comfort in your back.
3. You’ll feel sore, but this is the least likely response and is only caused by your body going through a healing crisis. It usually goes away after two to three days.
What to expect in the rest of your visits
A caveat: Because your atlas is used to its misalignment, especially if you had it treated only when you’re already an adult, it may go back to that, which is why you will need regular visits (hence the number of sessions) to retain the correct alignment. Sometimes, the rest of your sessions will not involve an atlas adjustment when it is still in alignment; instead, you will get your regular chiropractic treatment.
This is where Dr. Flores administers traditional chiropractic care.
After my second treatment (third visit)—in which Dr. Flores just administered the typical chiropractic techniques that involve the expected pops, stretches, and twists—that’s when I really felt the effects: I observed that I had better posture, and during yoga class, I noticed that my back is straighter, even without trying. And I even had a better yoga practice, as I was more stable and balanced. My favorite benefit? It helped me sleep better.
Dr. Flores recommended 8 to 10 sessions for my care plan, starting with weekly, and since I already showed signs of improvement, it’s now down to every other week. It all depends on how the body heals and adjusts.
Besides the adjustments, each visit also involves getting advice on how to take a more proactive approach to health—everything from diet and exercise to detox and supplements.
A lot of people I told about my chiropractor visits naturally asked about the price, so here goes: It’s usually P2,800 per session, but the N8 clinic offers discounts when all of the recommended number of sessions are paid for in advance.
Want to know more before you schedule your first visit? Join one of their community dinners, where you can enjoy complimentary food and beverages while learning about NUCCA and new ways to maximize your implementation of real health principles into your life. Bring friends and family who may be interested or who need the chiropractic care provided by their clinic. There’s one on Monday, April 20, 6PM, at Korea Garden Restaurant, Jupiter St., Bel-Air, Makati. Call or text (0917) 5710212 to reserve a slot and know more.
Dr. Miguel P. Flores’ clinic, N8 Upper Cervical Chiropractic, is located at Unit 301-B Jupiter Place, 136-138 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City. Call (02) 553-6218 for inquiries and appointments. Visit manilachiropractor.com for more information.