What is NUCCA?

What is NUCCA?

This gentle, non-invasive technique was developed more than forty years ago to create a radical new way of healing that can help restore body balance and perfect health. The focus of the NUCCA work is the relationship between the upper cervical spine (neck) and its influence on the central nervous system and brain stem function. It is this relationship that affects every aspect of human function from the feeling sensations in your fingers to regulating hormones, controlling movement, and providing the ability to hear, see, think, and breathe. 

The NUCCA Procedure is a Gentle Correction

A gentle touch and controlled contact on the first vertebrae in the neck is designed to restore balance to the spine. Even though the primary focus is the neck, the effects of the correction influences the whole spine and all body systems. This is because the NUCCA procedure influences one of the highest control centers over body balance, the brain stem and central nervous system. The C-1 vertebrae, also known as the Atlas, is a small donut-like bone located at the top of the spine and the base of the skull that surrounds the brain stem. When the spine is subjected to stress it can become misaligned. This phenomenon is known as the Atlas Subluxation Complex Syndrome (ASC) or the ASC Syndrome. 

NUCCA Addresses Misalignment of Your Spine

The nerves in our spinal column are very sensitive to pressure and stress. When the spine becomes misaligned sufficiently it stresses the nerves, compromises their normal impulses, and changes function throughout the body. Nerves are responsible for four primary functions:

If you have more questions about NUCCA care, then please click to our FAQ tab. Or you can ask Dr. Michelle Nowakowski at Life Enhancing Chiropractic, the best Chiropractor in Colorado Springs.

What Does "NUCCA" Stand For?

NUCCA is an acronym for the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association.  Dr. Michelle Nowakowski has been a NUCCA member since she started Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1998.  She is listed on the NUCCA website as one of the 30 fully Board Certified NUCCA doctors.  This gentle, precise chiropractic techniques works with your body to improve balance from your hips up to your head, by using the least amount of force possible and as few adjustments as possible to create stability in your body.

The goal of NUCCA care is to create balance in  your body’s posture and then support that balance while your body learns muscle memory to maintain that great posture and support the weight of the skull on top of your spine.

NUCCA doctors address spinal imbalance starting at the top, in the upper cervical spine where your head meets your spinal column.  This area is very important because since the top two joints of the spine are free-floating, its the most movable and dynamic area of the spine.  Your custom adjustment angle is determined by specialized x-rays that allow interference at that top bone in your spine to be removed, and now your brain and spinal cord can communicate to keep your whole body healthy.

A trained eye can detect imbalance in a body, and the resulting muscle tension.  The fine details are detected on an x-ray.  After you become familiar with body balance you’ll be surprised to see how many people are walking around out of balance.

When the head is off-center, the rest of the body responds by:

A body in Balance!

Dr. Nowakowski’s motto has always been, lifetime spinal alignment with as few adjustments as possible.  Each time the patient is seen at Life Enhancing Chiropractic, there are objective exams that show whether or not the person’s spine needs to be adjusted.  If the patient is still holding their last adjustment, an adjustment is not given.  Why?  Because we need to create stability not dependence.  

Some of the results patient’s experience are:

FAQs About NUCCA Specifically

Do you ever pop or twist my neck?

No, there is absolutely no popping or twisting of the head and neck.  Many of our patients are uncomfortable with this type of chiropractic adjustment, and even though it is relatively safe when done by a trained Chiropractor, it’s not part of the NUCCA protocol.

NUCCA protocol is based on precise, gentle adjustments where the force introduced into the neck is about the same force as you would use to put cream on your eyelid.  Its very gentle, but because of the precision of the angle from which she adjusts, Dr. Nowakowski is able to get the top bone in the spine right back under the base of your skull.  For this reason the adjustment is suitable for seniors, very young children and everyone in between!

How is Upper Cervical Care different from other types of chiropractic care?

Besides being gentle and precise with no twisting of the head neck or spine, there’s also other differences.  Before being adjusted, X-rays will be taken to determine the exact position of the head and neck, specifically the first vertebrae of the neck.  These X-rays are analyzed for the specific corrective angle that is custom to you.  In order to verify the effectiveness of the adjustment that was given, following the first adjustment post X-rays will be taken to measure all the same angles.  Once the custom alignment angle is determined with X-rays it can be used without new X-rays being taken for a long time.The focus of NUCCA work is to restore balance and the body’s ability to maintain it.  Therefore, in the long run, fewer appointments will be needed to maintain body balance. 

Since NUCCA is upper cervical chiropractic, does that mean you can't help my low back pain?

Not at all.  Because the top vertebrae in the spine surrounds the brainstem, getting stability in this region restores nervous system signals to all parts of the body.  Because of the anatomy of the brainstem, the lower body actually responds quite quickly to the upper cervical adjustment.  The hips can be restored to level and the leg length difference will be equal after the adjustment. 

Does it hurt when Dr. Nowakowski does the adjustment?

Sometimes the body’s response to being in alignment is to have some stiffness of muscles in the neck.  HOWEVER, the adjustment itself is not painful.  It’s a very light touch with your head resting on a headpiece that does not drop down.  Many patients feel like nothing has happened after she’s completed the adjustment.  Then we check the leg length difference and weight balance and they realize that something actually did happen, they are back in balance. 

How many adjustments will I need?

Upper cervical chiropractic care isn’t going to give you a new body or any new parts, nor will you be prescribed drugs or physical therapy to mask symptoms.  However the new sense of balance that you feel is as a result of your body healing itself.  This of course takes some time.  NUCCA is not magic.  It’s a series of adjustment that will show stability and muscle memory formation, that will gradually show  you and the doctor when less treatment will be needed. 

Is there any place I can research this type of chiropractic care?

Definitely.  As a chiropractic technique, NUCCA has been featured on Good Morning America, Public Television, and Discovery Health.

NUCCA research broke new ground in medicine, by being involved in a pilot study on the effects of NUCCA care for high blood pressure. In research published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, it was shown that NUCCA chiropractic care resulted in the lowering of blood pressure equal to the strength of two blood pressure pills for some patients. Read the article on the research at WebMD.

The research branch of the NUCCA organization, the Upper Cervical Research Foundation (UCRF), is actively pursuing research into the effects of adjustments on the upper cervical spine (upper-neck). UCRF is working with some of the brightest minds in health care. You can read about some of their projects here.

Do I need a referral to be seen at Life Enhancing Chiropractic?

No.  Referrals are not necessary. 

Is NUCCA care appropriate for my child?

Depending on what issues you and your child are dealing with, NUCCA could be a great solution.  Dr. Nowakowski has cared for children as young as 6 months old for colic, sleep problems, constipation and many other difficulties.  Children respond rather quickly to care, so less adjustments may be needed than when working with someone with chronic health issues.