Patient and Practitioner Spotlight: Q&A with Sarasota Upper Cervical Chiropractic
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
For this month’s Community Spotlight, I had a unique opportunity to deviate from our usual format and speak, not only with a local alternative medicine practitioner, but with an actual recipient of the modality as well.
Let me introduce you to Julie Lock, who has experienced what she calls “miraculous” healing after 10 months of chronic, debilitating health issues. I am honored that she has entrusted her story to the Natural Awakenings community. I am also inspired by her resilience to continue seeking answers and advocating for her own recovery.
So...what was the answer Julie Lock ultimately found in her search for alternative medicine solutions? Enter: Dr. Drew Hall, the lead practitioner of Sarasota Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Dr. Hall specializes in a modality known as the Blair Upper Cervical technique, which restores functionality to misalignments in the spinal cord, as well as related interferences to the central nervous system. In doing so, he is able to treat the root cause of various conditions with long-term success—as in Julie’s case.
These two were kind enough to share their experience of working in tandem to achieve a beautifully restorative outcome. And on that note, I will turn the floor over to Julie Lock and Dr. Drew Hall for a Patient and Practitioner Q&A.
Natural Awakenings: Can you describe the physical condition that you were experiencing when you came into Dr. Hall’s office in search of relief?
Julie Lock: I found Dr. Hall by accident. My physical conditions before seeing him were consistent back and neck pain, daily migraines and nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, blurred vision, inability to drive, hearing loss in my left ear and buzzing sounds in both ears.
Dr. Drew Hall: Medically speaking, Julie suffered from chronic photophobia (intolerance to lights), hyperacusis (sensitivity to sounds), severe vertigo, bilateral eustachian tube dysfunction (both middle ear tubes were closed, which caused hearing loss), tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears), insomnia, blurred vision and migraine headaches.
NA: What treatment protocol were used to treat these health conditions, and can you walk me through what the whole process entailed?
Lock: In my initial consultation with Dr. Hall, we charted the entire history of my personal health status. He explained how the Blair Upper Cervical technique works, then performed a leg balance test to determine if one leg was shorter than the other. He told me this would alert him to any interferences in the nervous system.
The next test he performed was called Infrared Thermography which evaluated my blood flow to make sure it was at the right temperature, and that no irritation in the upper cervical part of the neck existed. Finally, he took a series of precision x-rays to determine whether my vertebrae had become misaligned. The entire treatment is based on each unique person, as everyone has different problems at various degrees—some more complex than others. My own treatment sessions lasted between an 1 ½–2 hours.
Dr. Hall: When any patient comes into our office, we review their health history, run them through a battery of neurological tests that show us whether they have an upper cervical spine misalignment—and, if so, where it’s located.
Then, we use precision three-dimensional CBCT imaging (cone beam computed tomography) to view the joints of the misaligned vertebrae. The imaging tells us the direction of misalignment, as well as the angle and magnitude (number of millimeters) of the joint misalignment. We collect all of this information to perform a custom tailored spinal correction without any twisting, pulling or other invasive manipulations.
I perform this correction with finesse and precision—not force. The patient lies on their side, then measurements gleaned from the CBCT imaging are used to do a quick and precise correction to restore the misaligned joint to healthy function and motion.
When there is any spinal misalignment in the upper neck (atlas and axis), it causes interference to the central nervous system—specifically in the brainstem, the seat of control for all autonomic (automatic) processes in the body. This includes heart function, blood pressure regulation, postural muscle tone and organ function, as well as all other internal systems that humans do not consciously control.
Once this spinal correction is finished, the patient will then rest in a bed for 20 minutes, so the body can relax and re-center the corrected vertebrae. Thereafter, each patient will be monitored on regular visits to ensure the misaligned vertebrae remains its normal position. The goal is to maintain this normal position for as long as possible, so the soft tissue can heal without continuing to disrupt the central nervous system. This allows the body to return to optimal function and recover from potential chronic health issues in the process.
There’s an extensive laundry list of conditions that respond favorably to our work. The 10 we see most often include vertigo; Meniere's Disease (tinnitus, eustachian tube dysfunction, hearing deficits, brain fog, severe vertigo); Post-Concussion Syndrome; TMJ or TMD (chronic jaw pain or restriction); insomnia; migraines; chronic lower back, neck, hip, shoulder or arm pain; sinus problems; Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; and Trigeminal, Occipital or Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia (cranial or facial nerve dysfunction).
We’re able to treat these issues effectively with the Blair Upper Cervical technique because when an underlying structural issue is corrected at its source, the body’s potential to heal and repair itself will ultimately improve.
NA: How successful was this modality for alleviating your symptoms, as well as healing the root cause of these health conditions?
Lock: On April 20, 2022, Dr. Hall performed an adjustment behind my left ear, as well as in the middle of my neck. The next morning, I noticed the hearing loss in my left ear was completely restored. By the end of April, most of my other symptoms were gone too. As far as my scale of improvement, I went from a 4 to a 9. The result is miraculous—it changed my life.
Dr. Hall: Julie has now been under our care for 21 days, and she reports that 75 percent of her health issues have either improved or healed entirely. Her vertigo is gone. Her hearing has returned to normal. Her sensitivity to sound and light is much better. She drove her car to our office on the third visit, which is notable, since she was previously unable to drive as a result of chronic vertigo and cognitive issues.
The only issue that has not yet been resolved is her insomnia. This is unusual, but we always educate our patients about complete recovery. We are thrilled that Julie is doing so much better. She has experienced tremendous relief, which has changed her life and restored her hope. But it does take time for the underlying soft tissue and ligament injuries to heal. Symptoms can change rapidly, but complete structural recovery can take months.
With that being said, we educate our patients beyond just the initial relief of “feeling better.” Complete recovery is the long-term objective. Because healing is a slow, incremental process, we monitor how long a patient’s correction stays where it belongs. This dictates the frequency of their care. Our goal, once the patient is well, is to check them every few months to maintain their health gains and overall recovery.
The Blair Upper Cervical technique is not a cure-all, but our main objective is to find the root cause of a problem, rather than just treating the symptoms. Because the central nervous system is the underlying master control center for every cellular function, it makes sense to ensure this system does not experience any irritations or interference—regardless of whether or not a person feels chronically sick.
NA: Is there anything else you want our readers to know about your particular experience, as well as this treatment method as a whole?
Lock: My life now is nothing short of a miracle. I have been in search of answers for 10 months, and I’m so grateful to Dr. Drew Hall for helping to restore my health and overall quality of life. If you are sick and starting to lose hope that you can live normally again, please never quit on yourself. Sometimes you just need to look outside of what you have been told by the traditional healthcare system to find the right solutions.
Be your own advocate, seek out others with a similar condition who have achieved healing, then learn about the actions they took for themselves. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and recovery is possible. Sometimes healing requires several different avenues and combinations of natural health disciplines to experience long-term results. If you have a chronic illness and have not yet seen an Upper Cervical Chiropractor, do not wait any longer—make an appointment and reclaim your life!
Dr. Drew Hall has been successfully performing the Blair Upper Cervical technique for 20 years. His practice, Sarasota Upper Cervical Chiropractic, is located at 3920 Bee Ridge Road, Building D, Suite 101, Sarasota. His office hours are Tuesday–Wednesday, noon to 5:30 p.m., and Friday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hall, call 941-259-1891 or visit SarasotaUpperCervical.com.