Why is HealthWorks Family Chiropractic so unique?

What makes HealthWorks Family Chiropractic so unique?

In case you haven’t noticed, there are Chiropractic offices on virtually every block. While all provide Chiropractic care, we all utilize different techniques within the field.

There are over 200 different techniques and many of which are variations of themselves. The most researched, and unfortunately, under-utilized is Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Referring to the origins of upper cervical techniques, Dan Murphy, DC, DABCO, wrote: “Over the past 100 years, the practice of chiropractic has branched into dozens of specialty techniques. However, historically, for a third of this time, from the 1930s into the 1960s, the predominant practice of chiropractic involved primarily the upper cervical spine.” (1)

 Why is Upper Cervical Chiropractic so under-utilized?

Chiropractic education encompasses many areas, including the most popular techniques in the field, however, only two schools, Sherman College in South Carolina and Life University in Georgia and California teach upper cervical techniques as a required course.

  1. With only two schools teaching these techniques as a core curriculum, students and doctors in the field need to seek out these courses either on an elective basis while in school or after they graduate while they are trying to establish a practice. Upper Cervical Chiropractic is a very precise technique that requires a lot of skill, practice, and study to master, and therefore not many doctors have the ability or the time to spend while trying to build and maintain a practice.
  2. It takes a special x-ray and adjusting equipment to perform these gentle and precise adjustments.

 How many different techniques make up the world of Upper Cervical Chiropractic?

There are currently seven techniques that are either taught as the curriculum in chiropractic colleges and/or have certain requirements and classes available to doctors in the field.  

 These techniques include:

  • Orthospinology
  • Atlas Orthogonal
  • Advanced Orthogonal
  • Blair
  • Knee Chest
  • EPIC (Newest technique)
What technique does HealthWorks utilize?

The technique that is utilized at HealthWorks is called Orthospinology. Orthospinology is the only upper cervical technique that has been published in the textbook. To learn more about this technique and others in the upper cervical chiropractic technique family, a comprehensive, peer-reviewed paper was written. (2)

Orthospinology’s founder, John Grostic, DC, was an avid researcher and wanted nothing more than to see his “Dentate Ligament Hypothesis” be recognized as one of the main reasons an atlas misalignment can cause so many symptoms and health issues. 

Unfortunately, he passed away before his dream was realized. Here is what he said about this research, “This hypothesis states that misalignments of the upper cervical vertebrae, because of their unique attachment to the spinal cord by means of the dentate ligaments, can directly stress and deform the spinal cord. Subsequently, this stress on the cord, in addition to direct mechanical irritation, may produce venous occlusion with stasis of blood and resulting anoxia in particular areas of the upper cervical cord.”  (3)

 John Grostic’s research was later confirmed by David N. Levine, MD. (4)


   What other research makes Upper Cervical Chiropractic care the most researched technique in chiropractic?
  1. The scientific literature shows that decreased joint motion, especially in the upper cervical spine, leads to a host of deleterious effects on function and health. Dr. Mike Flanagan proposes in his 21-page paper titled “The Role of the Craniocervical Junction In The Craniospinal Hydrodynamics And Neurodegenerative Conditions”, outlines an impressively detailed argument for the overwhelming evidence of atlas axis misalignments role in a chronic disease process. (5)
  2.  Others including Dr. Scott Rosa have shown that upper neck misalignments at the CCJ(skull c-1 c-2 junction) decrease not only cerebral spinal fluid flow but also brain blood flow. Decreases in blood flow to the brain over the long term can lead to a host of health problems including, cognitive problems, depression, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. When interviewed about his research stated, Dr. Rosa says: “The chapter describes how malformations and misalignments of the craniocervical junction (CCJ) can cause a constellation of cerebral and other neurological signs and symptoms collectively called the craniocervical syndrome (CCS). The signs and symptoms of the craniocervical junction syndrome may be due to mechanical strain causing deformation of dura mater, vasculature, and other structures of the cranial vault resulting in irritation of and dysfunction of affected tissues. Deformation of the CCJ may also obstruct blood and CSF flow. Chronic ischemia, edema, and hydrocephalus can cause degenerative cascades that can, in turn, lead to neurodegenerative diseases.”
  3. Several different theories help explain how an atlas or axis misalignment can cause interference to the central nervous system causing a cascade of dysfunction throughout the body. John F. Grostic championed one theory known as the dentate ligament theory as mentioned above. This theory gives credence to the atlas misalignment causing mechanical traction on the brainstem..
  4. Other theories such as dysafferentation theory, also called joint complex dysfunction, and/or the myo-dural bridge theory have been explored. These myodural bridges provide passive and active anchoring of the spinal cord. They may also be involved in a dural tension monitoring system to prevent dura, the connective tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, from folding in on itself amid muscle tension to and maintain patency of the spinal cord, which is highly compromised with a misalignment in the craniocervical junction. (6).
  5. The truth of the matter is that all these different mechanisms are at play. And like in so many other treatments and therapies, there are many more discoveries to come that will help explain the upper cervical spine’s role in the health and disease process.
  6. From a musculoskeletal and chiropractic point of view, injury and subsequent misalignment of the upper cervical spine significantly affect body posture. Postural muscle tone in the spine is controlled in the brainstem. Injury to the neck can cause an imbalance in muscle tone and be responsible for many musculoskeletal complaints. Therefore, HealthWorks closely monitors posture from the beginning and throughout your course of care.
  7. Low back pain, neck pain, leg pain, sciatica, headaches/migraines, TMJ, and other pain syndromes can have their roots in upper cervical spine injury. The effects of the upper cervical spine on overall health are not even on the radar of mainstream health care, yet. HealthWorks enjoys working closely with other paraprofessionals to deliver the highest quality of care when needed and educate these physicians on how upper cervical chiropractic care can benefit their patients who are not responding to traditional western medicine.


  1. Eriksen K. Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex. A review of the chiropractic and medical literature. LWW, 2004; p. vii
  2. Woodfield HC 3rd, York C, Rochester RP, Bales S, Beebe M, Salminen B, Scholten JN. Craniocervical chiropractic procedures – a précis of upper cervical chiropractic. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2015 Jun;59(2):173-92.
  3. Grostic, John D. The Dentate Ligament – Cord Distortion Hypothesis Chiropractic Research Journal published 1988.
  4. Levine DN. Pathogenesis of cervical spondylotic myelopathy. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1997 Apr;62(4):334-40.
  5. https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/58783
  6. Seaman DR, Winterstein JF. Dysafferentation: a novel term to describe the neuropathophysiological effects of joint complex dysfunction. A look at likely mechanisms of symptom generation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1998 May;21(4):267-80. 


Our promise to you:

HealthWorks is dedicated to a comprehensive and specific approach to taking care of spinal and nervous system needs. Let us help you find out how taking care of the most important system in the body will create optimal health that will last a lifetime! 

 If we find we’re not the best to help with your condition, we promise to refer you to someone who is.