Karen Garloch

Charlotte chiropractor focuses on upper cervical spine

For 20 years in Charlotte, Dr. Ray Drury has practiced a type of chiropractic care that focuses on the upper cervical spine. To mark that anniversary, he has published a book called “The Best-Kept Secret in Health Care. ”

There isn’t a lot of research to back up this 100-year-old therapy, but Drury says that’s mostly because drug companies and other deep-pocket interests wouldn’t benefit by funding studies to produce evidence that it works.

He relies on word-of-mouth. In 2006, Drury, 46, created Upper Cervical Health Centers of America, with 33 franchise offices from Florida to California and three in Italy. His main office is at 2550 West Arrowood Road.

Upper cervical care is based on the idea that when the weight of the head is shifted off the center of the neck, it can produce pressure around the brain stem, a vital part of the nervous system. When the body compensates for that imbalance, problems such as lower back pain can result, Drury said. While he doesn’t claim to cure or treat particular illnesses, Drury said his goal is to correct misalignment in the upper cervical spine and allow the body to heal itself.

Instead of making adjustments along the entire spine as other chiropractors do, Drury focuses on the two vertebrae at the top of the spine that protect the brain stem. “Even a misalignment of one millimeter can adversely affect the nervous system,” Drury writes. “You can adjust a low back problem all you want, but if the weight of the head is still off-center, the minute the patient stands up, the gravitational field will take him back to the same pattern.”

The American Chiropractic Association doesn’t have a policy on upper cervical care, said the group’s president, Dr. Anthony Hamm of Goldsboro. “We don’t endorse it, yet we don’t ridicule it either. … We want practitioners to use whatever technique they’re comfortable with as long as it has some scientific evidence associated with it. There is nothing that would indicate this is not valid.”

Hamm said he has read research about upper cervical care “as it relates to control of hypertension and headaches. We have a practitioner here in Goldsboro that does upper cervical care. I think what he does has validity.”

Drury, who admits he was skeptical at first, includes in his book testimonials from patients who have found relief for back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. “Usually they come to me after they’ve tried everything else,” he said.

“I literally have had people come here from all over the world,” Drury said. “I know there’s hundreds of people in Charlotte who drive by my office every day who have no idea that anything like this exists.”