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Orthospinology: Treatment, Before & After, Benefits and More

Orthospinology is a subspecialty of chiropractic healthcare targeted to the upper cervical spine.

Fixing misalignments in your upper spine can address a surprising number of health problems. Seizures, chronic migraine, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure — orthospinology has lead to improvement in the quality of life for people suffering from many different conditions.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we employ the evidence-based techniques of orthospinology to bring relief to patients who have found little success with side effect-laden medications or want to avoid invasive surgeries.

Listen to real customer testimonials about how upper cervical care worked for them.

Keep reading to find out more about orthospinology, including which conditions it treats and what to expect from a visit to a qualified orthospinology expert.

What is orthospinology?

Orthospinology is a gentle chiropractic technique that aligns the upper cervical spine to reduce pain, promote overall wellness, and relieve chronic health conditions. Orthospinology is a proven conservative alternative after pharmaceuticals and surgery fail. 

Performed properly, upper cervical chiropractic care should actually eliminate the need for these more invasive treatments.

This subspecialty of chiropractic care focuses on the upper cervical spine, which consists of the upper 2 vertebrae:

  1. Atlas, or C1
  2. Axis, or C2

Dr. John F. Grostic developed the Grostic technique in the 1940s. From the beginning, the focus of this technique was on maximizing the specificity of the analysis as well as the precision of the adjustments. 

In the 1970s, Dr. John D. Grostic continued his father’s research. He expanded the list of adverse effects on the central nervous system due to upper cervical spinal misalignment, based on overwhelming evidence.

Orthospinology was birthed out of the Grostic technique. Clinicians sought to improve the reproducibility of the adjustments and minimize human error by switching to an instrument-assisted style of adjusting. This allows for increased specificity and precision as well as equally gentle adjustments to many other upper cervical techniques. 

Upper cervical chiropractic care is gentle, not rough. We are not trying to crack your back; we are fixing how your spinal cord communicates with your brain stem. It’s one thing that sets orthospinology apart from other chiropractic — it doesn’t require rough motions or cracking.

National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) defines and regulates the practice of manually adjusting the upper cervical subluxation complex based on x-ray analysis. 

NUCCA has a negligible different analysis from orthospinology — NUCCA adjustments are usually done by hand, whereas orthospinology uses instruments. Usually, a patient who has good outcomes at a NUCCA office will have a good experience at an Orthospinology practice, and vice versa. 

Atlas Orthogonal is slightly different from orthospinology, though they are both upper cervical low-force procedures. 

The Atlas Orthogonal technique looks the most like an orthospinology adjustment, but the instrument delivers the adjustment with a “percussive force” (essentially, a sound wave). 

The orthospinology technique utilizes a similar percussive instrument for some types of misalignments, and a larger table mounted instrument with a slight mechanical excursion for others. 

What causes neck misalignment?

What causes atlas subluxation? Traumatic injury is usually what leads to Atlas Subluxation Complex — or, a subluxation in your top vertebra. Poor posture and repeated injuries are common risk factors that worsen atlas subluxation.

What happens when C2 is out of alignment? When the C2 (axis) is out of alignment, you can expect pain, numbness, weakness, or even loss of bladder/bowel control. You should seek upper cervical chiropractic care to correct C2 misalignment to avoid chronic health problems and long-term complications.

What to Expect During Orthospinology Treatment

During orthospinology treatment, you can expect an initial consultation. On your first visit, many upper cervical chiropractors will not administer an adjustment. Precise analysis and diagnostics are essential to orthospinology, so the chiropractor often wants a few days to process the results.

At your initial consultation, your upper cervical chiropractor may do a physical exam, digital x-ray analysis, and maybe even a cognitive exam.

On your second visit, chiropractors will typically perform the first adjustment.

Upper cervical adjustments are gentle. Forget about those rough twists and cracks. Orthospinology is gentle enough for children and grandmas alike.

These adjustments are often instrument-assisted. Sometimes, the instruments will be handheld. Other times, the instruments are mounted on advanced equipment.

This video helps you know what to expect from an orthospinology adjustment.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we also have a post-adjustment room for patients to relax and cool down after spinal realignment. Our calming post-adjustment room contains:

Here in our offices, we may also recommend upper and lower back stretches to help with certain conditions.

How long does it take to realign your spine? It takes one adjustment to start realigning your spine. The total number of visits and how much improvement your chiropractor can promise varies by case and depends on the condition of the patient. 

However, a handful of visits to your chiropractor every year are likely needed to maintain spinal alignment.

The Orthospinology Technique: Before and After

orthospinology before x-ray
orthospinology after x-ray
orthospinology chiropractic before after x-ray

You can see in the above pictures that an orthospinology adjustment corrects a misaligned upper spine.

orthospinology before posture picture
orthospinology after posture picture

These before and after pictures from www.orthospinology.org show an average individual and how misaligned their spine may be before a spinal correction.

orthospinology leg check before image
orthospinology leg check after image

Another method upper cervical chiropractors use is analyzing functional leg length by comparing the patient’s heels before and after adjustments.

Benefits of Orthospinology

Orthospinology aims to improve nervous system function, immune system function, and overall health and wellness. But what specifically do upper cervical procedures treat?

According to peer-reviewed research and case studies, the possible benefits of orthospinology/upper cervical care include improving the quality of life for patients with medical conditions such as:

  1. Lower back pain
  2. Neck pain
  3. Knee pain
  4. Headaches and migraines
  5. Seizures
  6. Scoliosis
  7. Fibromyalgia
  8. Multiple sclerosis
  9. Parkinson’s symptoms
  10. Bowel dysfunction
  11. Asthma
  12. Low blood pressure
  13. High blood pressure
  14. Immune dysfunction (including when related to HIV)
  15. Tourette’s syndrome
  16. Cerebral palsy
  17. Autism spectrum disorder

The Orthospinology Sub-Specialty of Chiropractic

Orthospinology is a subspecialty of the chiropractic profession. It takes many hours of additional education and certification before a chiropractor understands the complex structure and biomechanics of the upper cervical spine and is qualified to practice orthospinology.

A Doctor of Chiropractic degree is required as a prerequisite.

The Society of Chiropractic Orthospinology is a non-profit organization that trains chiropractors in orthospinology. They provide orthospinology training through various seminars and workshops and offer testing for certification as an Advanced Graduate of Orthospinology.

Once a chiropractor has gone through the necessary education and certification, individual patients can be confident in the effectiveness of the adjustments to their upper cervical spine.

Orthospinology in the Denver, CO Area

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we have administered countless upper cervical adjustments and witnessed amazing success stories. Orthospinology is critical to proper body function and overall health.

Set up your appointment right away. We reserve Friday for patients traveling from outside of Denver, CO.

New patient? Learn what to expect and how to move forward.

Find out about Dr. Ty Carzoli and his unique approach to spinal care.

Sources

  1. Woodfield III, H. C., York, C., Rochester, R. P., Bales, S., Beebe, M., Salminen, B., & Scholten, J. N. (2015). Craniocervical chiropractic procedures–a précis of upper cervical chiropractic. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 59(2), 173. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486989/
  2. Kirk Eriksen. (2001). POSITION PAPER FOR ORTHOGONALLY-BASED UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC CARE. ORTHOSPINOLOGY UPPER CERVICAL. Full text: http://www.upcspine.com/tech5.htm
  3. Rochester, R. P. (2009). Neck pain and disability outcomes following chiropractic upper cervical care: a retrospective case series. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 53(3), 173. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732255/
  4. Chaibi, A., & Tuchin, P. J. (2011). Chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment of migraine headache of 40-year duration using Gonstead method: a case study. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 10(3), 189-193. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259914/
  5. Nick Tedder, D. C., Adam Tedder, D. C., & Stephen, J. Resolution of chronic fibromyalgia and improved spinal curves following correction of an atlas subluxation: a case report & selective review of the literature. Abstract: https://www.vertebralsubluxationresearch.com/2015/07/13/resolution-of-chronic-fibromyalgia-and-improved-spinal-curves-following-correction-of-an-atlas-subluxation-a-case-report-selective-review-of-the-literature/
  6. Bova, J., & Sergent, A. (2014). Chiropractic management of an 81-year-old man with Parkinson disease signs and symptoms. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 13(2), 116-120. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4322011/
  7. Hannah, J. S. (2009). Changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure for a hypotensive patient receiving upper cervical specific: a case report. Chiropractic Journal of Australia, 39(3), 118. Abstract: https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=354754121398890;res=IELHEA
  8. John D. Grostic, Jeffrey L. Selano, Brett C. Hightower, Bruce Pfleger, Karen Freeley Collins. (1994). The Effects of Specific Upper Cervical Adjustments on the CD4 Counts of HIV Positive Patients. Full text: https://www.upcspine.com/dloads/rs80.pdf
  9. Noriega, A., Chung, J., & Brown, J. (2012). Improvement in a 6 year-old child with autistic spectrum disorder and nocturnal enuresis under upper cervical chiropractic care. Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research, 1, 1-8. Abstract: https://www.vertebralsubluxationresearch.com/2011/01/30/improvement-in-a-6-year-old-child-with-autistic-spectrum-disorder-and-nocturnal-enuresis-under-upper-cervical-chiropractic-care/
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Dr.Ty Carzoli is extremely professional, punctual and informative. The office is clean and organized. My treatments from him have allowed me to think towards the future, not just day to day. Overall, a great experience!

Leslie Goodman

I absolutely LOVE going to Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Dr. Ty knows his stuff and I've never felt better. His style of chiropractic care has improved my sleeping, mood, and fitness capacity. Plus, they are really great at making me feel appreciated. See super sweet picture from my birthday. I would HIGHLY recommend giving them a try, but only if you really want to improve how you feel.

Carla Streff

Overall, I didn’t necessarily feel that I had any particular issues other than a prior shoulder injury that slightly bothered me when I exercised with a heavy set of weights. I felt fairly energetic due to the typical routine of exercise and eating a well balanced healthy diet. The idea for my treatment was to be more proactive about my long term health and ensure that I was in proper alignment.
After my initial consultation, I found out my body was out of alignment more than I felt. I did not feel much different after the first few adjustments; however, what I did not realize until a few weeks in is that I had been waking up prior to treatment with kind of a groggy kind of feeling. After years of waking up like this I assumed this was just the norm. I now have been waking up with little fatigue and grogginess (even with a 10 month old baby) and a new burst of revitalization even if I did not get a full 8 hours of sleep. The feeling of being excited the day before a trip has been occurring on the standard day getting up for work. My workouts have also seen an improvement with the new improved energy levels as well as the standard weight I typically lift went up with little efforts.
Dr. Ty is extremely knowledgeable about what he does and would not think about using anyone else for my care. I love walking into the awesome environment that Dr. Ty has established and the overall care that comes from the visits. Dr. Ty and his fantastic staff has an amazing energy that I very much look forward to when visiting the office!
Even if you think that you have a good alignment, you should be sure to visit Dr. Ty for a great proactive health care plan!

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Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic | 303-955-8270