Dr Christopher A DeGeorge is an Upper Cervical Chiropractor, blogger and heads a thriving practice in Charlotte, North Carolina. Upper Cervical Care is a rapidly growing form of healthcare that focuses on the intimate relationship between the first two bones in the neck, called the Upper Cervical spine, and a vital portion of the nervous system, known as the brain stem. Learn more here.
Empowered Mommies (EM): Dr DeGeorge, you’re a Licensed Upper Cervical Chiropractor who specializes in Upper Cervical Care. Can you tell us a little bit more about you, how you came to specialize in this field?
Chris DeGeorge (CDG): I graduated from Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic in March of 2000. There are many different techniques or approaches within the chiropractic profession. During my chiropractic education, my desire was to find the most effective technique available and to master that technique. Upper cervical chiropractic is only offered in a few of the chiropractic colleges and even then it is usually only offered as an elective. Therefore, in order to master this type of care, I realized I would have to learn from someone that practiced this way. There are only a handful of upper cervical chiropractors in the US. I decided to join a practice in Sedro-Woolley Washington to learn from a certified upper cervical instructor and chiropractic author, Dr. Michael Lenarz. I spent two years working with Dr. Lenarz and learning how to practice upper cervical care at the highest level.
EM: Can you explain the principles of Upper Cervical Care and how it differs from traditional chiropractics?
CDG: Upper Cervical Care differs from traditional full spine chiropractic in several ways. First, we focus on the top two bones in the neck called atlas and axis. Because these bones are formed to allow for a much greater range of motion than anywhere else in the spine it makes them more prone to misalignment. The upper neck is also the area of the brain stem which is why a misalignment here can have devastating effects on overall function and health. When the top of the neck shifts out of alignment it will then cause the rest of the spine to compensate (for example: abnormal curves, one shoulder being higher or one hip being higher than the other) which could result in neck pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, hip pain, knee pain, even ankle pain. Most general full spine chiropractors will focus their attention only on the area in pain. Therefore, the misalignment in the upper neck which is what CAUSED the compensations throughout the rest of the spine goes uncorrected. By correcting the upper cervical misalignment the entire spine will begin to shift back into normal alignment.
Second, Upper Cervical Care is very specific. The upper neck is x-rayed from several different angles so that the upper cervical doctor knows the precise direction the bone is misaligned in. I go so far as to measure the angles of the joints or articulations. The angles will vary not only from person to person but can even be different from the left side to the right side in the same person. Once we have a detailed picture of the exact way the bone is misaligned, it doesn't take a lot of force to reposition the bone back to normal. Our upper cervical corrections are very gentle and done without turning, twisting, or "cracking" the neck!
Another big difference is the concept of holding your correction. Most full spine chiropractors will adjust their patients on every visit. Unfortunately, many chiropractors think that just because you are in the office that you need an adjustment. I educate my patients that it is important to know when to adjust and just as important to know when not to adjust. Our objective is to get the patients spine to stabilize so that frequent adjusting is not necessary. The upper cervical doctor has protocol to follow which will indicate when a correction is needed and when it is not. Consider this analogy; Imagine we have a hose going to a garden. If we put a kink in the hose blocking water from getting to the garden, the garden will begin to wilt and die. We could attempt to revive the garden by putting fertilizer down but of course without restoring the water supply the garden will only continue to wilt. We might see that the flowers are turning brown so we decide to use some green spray paint to make them look better. This doesn't work either until finally we notice the kink in the hose. We remove the kink and allow the water to flow to the garden! However, when we return to the garden the next day the garden hasn't yet blossomed back to life right? Yet there is nothing more for us to do. Now we just need to wait and give the garden time to regain its health. The upper cervical doctor has tests which will indicate when the brain is communicating to the body properly and when it is not. The only time a correction is done is when there is something to correct. Our goal is for the upper cervical correction to hold as long as possible. I have had patients hold their correction for over a year! Upper cervical doctors adjust over 70% less then regular full spine chiropractors.
EM: Unfortunately, it seems like in our current society conventional health care options and treatment tend to focus on treating the effects or symptoms without diving deeper into the source of symptoms or preventative medicine. How does Upper Cervical Care help in this regard?
CDG: I see it all the time. Lets take migraines as an example. A patient will come in our office having suffered with migraines for years and takes a variety of medications to combat the condition. The problem with this is that the migraines are not caused by a lack of the medication they've been prescribed. The cause of the migraines is something else and the medication only deals with the symptoms or effects from the cause of the migraine. Studies show that as much as 80% of migraine sufferers will eventually have a stroke. Here's another analogy. Imagine driving a car and the oil light coming on. Now, what would happen if instead of getting an oil change we put a piece of black tape over the oil light so we couldn't see it. Have we fixed the problem? No we just covered it up, the real problem is still there getting worse as it's neglected over time. Left long enough, the car may require a new engine instead of just a simple oil change. It seems ridiculous to react this way to a warning light going off in your vehicle but for some reason in this country this is exactly what we do when there are warning signs triggered in the body. This explains why migraine sufferers are more prone to having a stroke as they neglect the real cause of the problem and just mask the symptoms. Upper cervical doctors focus on correcting the upper cervical misalignment which could be the cause or reason why the body is not functioning properly. There is a study which showed that one upper cervical correction is more effective for controlling blood pressure than any single medication prescribed for high blood pressure. Blood pressure medication does not correct the problem, if it did you wouldn't have to take them for the rest of your life. Upper cervical doctors have helped thousands of people reduce or eliminate their need for medication as they help to restore the body back to normal function. Since every function in the body is controlled and coordinated by the nervous system, it is vital that the nervous system work without any interference. The upper cervical misalignment can put pressure and irritation directly on the brain stem and interfere or distort the nerve signals between the brain and the body. When this happens it is impossible for the body to function optimally and over time can result in a wide array of very serious health problems. By correcting the upper cervical misalignment and removing the pressure or irritation from the brain stem, the upper cervical doctor helps to restore the body back to normal function with out drugs or surgery.
EM: Many of our readers are new moms and moms of small children. What are some of the most common issues you encounter with clients like this? What other conditions do you work with the most?
CDG: The first place the upper cervical misalignment can occur is during the birthing process. The force of pulling and twisting used to deliver the baby has the potential to create the first upper cervical misalignment. Once the misalignment occurs and the communication between the brain and the body has been distorted, the child is prone to developing health problems. Upper cervical care has helped many children with ear infections, colic, torticollis, ADD/ADHD, autism, asthma, and seizure disorders. Common adult conditions that have gotten great results with upper cervical care include, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, trigeminal neuralgia, digestive disorders, sleeping disorders, carpal tunnel, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, vertigo, TMJ, and chronic pain.
EM: Can you explain at a high level some of your therapeutic approaches and what are some of the tools you utilize in your practice?
CDG: We have only one approach which is the upper cervical correction. Our only objective is to restore the communication between the brain and the body to allow the body to heal and repair at its highest level. We simply remove one major obstacle (the upper cervical misalignment) to the body's natural ability to heal and regulate all the functions vital for life!
EM: How do you measure success or recovery with a patient and can you share with us some of your most impressive success stories?
CDG: Danny was in his mid-late 30's and was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called transverse myelitis. As a result, Danny had severe peripheral neuropathy (intense pain, burning and numbness) in his lower legs and feet. He had a form of arthritis which affected his hands. Danny's neurologist informed him that he would never get better, that this was a degenerative disease that would only continue to get worse over time. Danny went from hoping he would get better to hoping he wouldn't end up in a wheel chair. Through upper cervical care, I'm pleased to say, Danny no longer has any symptoms of transverse myelitis. None. I asked Danny, "did you really have a disease?? Or, did you just have something preventing your body from functioning the way it is intended to function?" Danny just smiled!
14 year old boy is brought in by his grandmother. When he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. Since birth, he had tremors in his hands. The tremors were so bad that once he was in school, they had to put weights in the pencils to allow him to write more legibly. He also had seizures. The main reason, however, that his grandmother brought him in was ADHD. He could not focus or concentrate and his grades were suffering. He wasn't doing his homework and starting giving up feeling helpless and incapable of being a good student. After the first upper cervical correction, the tremors in his hands reduced about 90%. He hasn't had any seizures since starting care. He also now has the highest grades in math that he's ever had and reports an improvement in focus and concentration!
Woman in her 60's suffering with trigeminal neuralgia comes in. She suffered with constant unrelenting pain which affected the right side of her mouth and shot into the jaw and side of head. The pain had been constant for 3 years. She had been on several medications but none ever resolved her problem. After about 6 weeks of upper cervical care, she now has NO pain at all! She had considered having teeth pulled thinking that would solve her pain. Luckily, she tried us first.
EM: As you continue with your work, how do you hope your practice will have helped mothers and women in the Charlotte area?
CDG: Most people are completely unaware that we even exist. There are so many people in poor health suffering with conditions and taking a never ending routine of medications hoping that someday they will be well. Our mission is to spread the awareness about upper cervical care and its incredible ability to restore health! By educating as many people as we can, we hope to create not only a healthier community here, but to change the nature of health care in the United States. Upper Cervical Health Centers of America has nearly 50 offices across the nation and another 4 in Italy. Offices are now being planned for the rest of Europe as well! The body was created to be healthy. If it is given the right opportunity, it is amazing what the body is capable of recovering from. We want everyone to know that upper cervical care is an option when it comes to their health concerns. For more information check out www.uppercervicalcare.com
EM: Thanks for your time and for teaching us more about this alternative approach to healthcare!
CDG: Thank you Ivanna!