ACHES AND PAINS plague everyday life for millions of Americans, often despite the use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. But there may be hope to erase this cycle of suffering through a chiropractic procedure called upper cervical care.

This relatively unknown and affordable procedure aims to bring the body into balance by adjusting the top two vertebrae, called the atlas and axis bones. When these bones are out of alignment, a host of problems can occur - allergies, asthma, headaches, indigestion, low back pain, depression and high blood pressure, among others.

Dr. Roger D. Smith of Smith Upper Cervical Health Care in Huntington Beach is one of only 75 doctors worldwide who practice upper cervical care through the Blair Chiropractic Technique. The method was developed by Dr. William G. Blair in the early 1950s.

Neurological tests, heat sensitive instrumentation and X-rays of the upper cervical area reveal if the atlas and axis bones have misaligned. If they have, a precise and specific adjustment based on these tests is tailored to the individual.

Smith has been treating patients in private practice since 2001 and said he has seen remarkable changes in their physical and emotional health after alignment.


Although the procedure doesn't cure any disease, it removes spinal cord irritation and tension and reactivates normal transmission of brain messages to the affected parts of the body.

When this happens, the natural self-healing process can begin, Smith said.

"Upper cervical care is a very gentle adjustment to the back of the neck, which unlocks the nerve pressure in the spine," said Smith, a graduate of Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic in Spartanburg, S.C. "It feels like a light tap and there is no twisting, popping or pulling. Patients are often surprised how underwhelming it is."

According to Smith, the reason the body is able to begin to heal after this type of adjustment is simple. When the atlas and/or axis bones are out of position, the transmission of critical messages from the brain to all parts of the body is blocked. He said every cell, organ and tissue that is not receiving adequate nerve energy and communication from the brain will suffer and degenerate.

Smith, 36, compares it to a car that is out of alignment. If the problem isn't corrected, the tires of the vehicle are going to wear out prematurely. You can keep replacing the tires, but until you have the car aligned, you will just be wasting your money.

It is the same with the spine, Smith said. A person can continue to take medication for an illness, but if his or her atlas is out of its proper position and causing the problem, it's not going to heal until the atlas is corrected and the body balance is restored.

"It doesn't matter how young or old you are, if you have nerve pressure, it's choking off your life," said Smith. "But the body has an innate ability to repair itself through the nerves. It's amazing to see the changes in people's spines from releasing that nerve pressure."


One might wonder how the atlas and/or axis bones become misaligned. Smith says certain studies show that many cases happen during birth. As a child is being born, the twisting motion that is often applied to remove the baby from the birth canal can jolt these bones out of place. Smith recommends that every child be checked shortly after birth to prevent future complications.

Other ways in which the atlas and/or axis bones can slip out of position is through stresses on the body, such as an injury, toxins or a traumatic experience.

Long Beach resident John McClain, who is a patient of Smith's, believes his misalignment may have occurred when he was struck by a car in 1981. McClain, who was 13 at the time, suffered a variety of injuries, including a broken leg and lung damage.

"I had chronic neck, back and knee pain until I met Dr. Smith," said McClain, 38. "I got adjusted for the first time last August and it's like I got a new skeleton. All the old pains are gone and my body feels much more stable and secure."

Additionally, McClain reports better overall health and says he rarely ever gets sick. He also says he has grown muscle in his knees, which had atrophied after his accident.

Like McClain, 28-year-old Kelly Bowen has found Smith's treatment to be the answer to her health problems. After the birth of her son in 2004, the Long Beach resident began to suffer from debilitating migraine headaches. Bowen said they were so severe that she landed in the hospital twice.

Bowen, who operates an in-home day care, tried various medications and conventional chiropractic care to ease her pain. Neither provided any lasting relief. Upon hearing about Smith from a friend, Bowen said she decided to give his procedure a try.

"Within two weeks, my migraines stopped and I felt so much better," said Bowen. "It's been over a year and I am migraine free. I was missing so much and am very glad someone in my life told me about this."


Bowen's son Roddy and 4-year-old daughter Taylor Rae have also gone through treatment with Smith. She said Roddy's asthma has disappeared and Taylor Rae no longer suffers with ear problems.

According to David Topping, D.C., who practices the Blair Chiropractic Technique in Yorba Linda, children's spines are much more pliable than adults.

He said in his 18 years of practicing the technique, he has seen the most dramatic and immediate results happen in children and babies.

"Most people don't think of young people needing to be adjusted and that's unfortunate," said Topping. "But getting kids adjusted can prevent them from having a lifetime of problems. I once treated a baby whose mother told me he was going to die because of failure to thrive. I adjusted his neck and he quickly became completely normal."


Because Upper Cervical Care has proven to be highly effective, Smith said he is on a mission to spread the word about its benefits. He gives lectures at health fairs and offers spinal screening services at Wild Oats Market and Home and Garden shows.

For more information

Roger Smith D.C., Smith Upper Cervical Health Care, 16052 Beach Blvd., Suite 130, Huntington Beach; (714) 848-8122 or

Additionally, Smith is studying to become an instructor in the Blair Chiropractic Technique in order to ensure there are enough doctors to treat everyone seeking help.

"Our goal is to have a doctor who does this in every town with over 30,000 people," said Smith, a native of Colton. "People need to know there's more that can be done for their health problems. I think the world would be a much healthier place if everyone would get their spines checked."

Luanne J. Hune is a Hesperia freelance writer