The "Council on Upper Cervical Care" recently announced a new "board certification" in "Craniocervical Junction Procedures" or "DCCJP. "This is, according to the Council, "the only postgraduate program that incorporates different upper cervical procedures."

For the uninitiated, some background."Upper Cervical Care" is based on the belief that "spinal misalignments" in the cervical spine, called "subluxations," prevent the flow of "healing messages" from the brain to the rest of the body and cause health problems. The chiropractor locates these "subluxations" and removes them with "adjustments," thereby restoring the flow of said messages from the brain and, consequently, good health.

This is total nonsense, of course. But it is perfectly legal in the U.S. to tell people this and to charge them for it. This is because state law permits it through the chiropractic licensing acts, which define the practice of chiropractic to include the detection and correction of these mysterious subluxations.

Upper cervical chiropractic is a subset of "straight" chiropractic, the doctrine that most closely adheres to the teachings of chiropractic's founder, Daniel David Palmer, an uneducated "magnetic healer" who dreamed up the whole idea based on the belief that he'd cured a janitor of deafness by striking him on the back. (No, I am not making this up.) Straight chiropractors also believe in this nebulous construction, the subluxation, and that "adjusting" it will restore healing messages, or nerve energy, or nerve flow, or any of the other various names they use for this magical force coming down from the brain. However, most straight chiropractors do not think that subluxations are confined to the cervical spine and will locate them (even though they've never agreed on how to find them in the first place) throughout the spine.

The International Chiropractors Association is the industry association for straight chiropractors and is the creator of this latest "board certification" in craniocervical junction procedures. (To someone who practices reality-based medicine, the craniocervical junction is the region where the skull meets the cervical vertebrae and the brainstem meets the spinal cord, but there are no magical forces flowing through it.) There are a number of proprietary chiropractic techniques for craniocervical junction procedures; for example, the Graston Technique. This particular course of study is

"designed for upper cervical doctors of chiropractic who may already be proficient in a specific upper cervical procedure but wish to advance their diagnostic, analytical and clinical skills and also learn about other upper cervical procedures to help improve patient outcomes."

The course meets over 2.5 years and includes "300+" hours of instruction. It is not clear from the information available to the public whether this instruction is on-site or via the internet, nor is it clear whether actual patient contact is involved. If it follows the pattern for other "board certifications" sponsored by the ICA and the ACA (American Chiropractic Association), instruction takes place on a series of weekends either in chiropractic schools, or hotel conference rooms or via video.

This latest effort by the ICA is part of a larger one in chiropractic to adopt the nomenclature of medical practice without going to the trouble of doing all the work. Thus, "board certification," "Diplomate," "Council" and like trappings of medical legitimacy.  By way of comparison, to become Board Certified in Neurology (a fair comparison for those who claim to be experts in the nervous system, right?) one must graduate from four years of medical school and be accepted into a residency program. Residency consists of one year of internal medicine plus three years of neurology residency, working 80+ hour weeks taking care of actual patients. So, conservatively, 16,000 hours versus 300 hours. This can be followed by fellowships lasting from one to four years. Board-certified neurologists must pass their board exams and must then main their certification through further exams and continuing education.

The craniocervical junction procedures course include instruction in imaging. Two testimonials from recent graduates highlight this feature:

"I now look at every indicator possible when assessing subluxation. I now review MRI's on a regular basis."


"This class has helped me to see the many ways the elements of the upper cervical spine can move out of normal relationship, not just with x-rays, but also with palpation. I am much more thorough in studying my patients and understanding how the subluxation is being expressed in their lives. I have confidence now when I look at an MRI of the CCJ that has been called 'normal' and am able to show what is abnormal about it."

In other words, what these chiropractors are doing is taking unnecessary x-rays and ordering MRIs to diagnose, by means that have yet to be agreed-upon among chiropractors, a putative spinal lesion first identified by a "magnetic healer" in 1895, which chiropractors to this day cannot define, all so that this nebulous concept can be "adjusted" and thereby unleash a mysterious healing force from the brain. Sounds like a pretty lame excuse to submit patients to unnecessary radiation.

And, they are finding things on MRIs that somehow medical doctors with years of specialty training in radiology, orthopedics and/or neurology missed. A revelation no doubt conveyed to the patient with glee, so as to inform the patient just what a dummy their MD is and explain how the far superior DC has discovered this totally obvious physical issue causing their health problems. So, not only nonsense, but mendacious nonsense at that.

And, oh, what health problems this fictional cervical subluxation can cause! Let's look at the website of a recent graduate of this pseudoprofessional program. I arbitrarily chose Melissa Licari, DC, because she lives in Florida, as do I. Here you can read the annoyingly simplistic view of neurology held by straight chiropractors and see the plethora of diseases they claim they can successfully treat. For example:

"Chiropractic is very beneficial to pregnancy for numerous reasons: achieving and maintaining a healthier pregnancy, controlling nausea, easing labor and delivery time, helping with relieving back neck and muscle pain, and even helping to prevent a cesarean section due to a breech delivery."

That right. Chiropractors are so poorly education and trained that they actually believe that they can alleviate nausea and, as well, in something called the "Webster Technique," a sort of chiropractic external cephalic version, just not one based in fact.

And, for ADD/ADHD:

"Children with a subluxation need Chiropractic. [No, they don't.] Once the nerves that are being interfered are corrected, the potential for their personality will, and expression of self can unfold. Many parents have reported termination of ADD/ADHD medication once Chiropractic was started."

Well, you get the picture. Maybe the public is starting to get it as well. I see that Licari is trying to chum up patients with a "special" whereby you can get an x-ray, first exam and consultation for only $49.00. (Reading between the lines here, your health insurance won't pay for it.) I think I know what the results of this exam will be. I'll be you do too.