Manual manipulation of the spine and other joints in the body has been around for a long time.  Ancient writings from China and Greece dating between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. mention spinal manipulations to ease low back pain.

In addition, Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine” who lived from 460 to 370 B.C., published a text detailing the importance of manual manipulation.  In one of his writings he declares, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”.  Evidence of manual manipulation of the body has been found among the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Japan, the Incas, Mayans and Native Americans.
The official beginning of the modern chiropractic profession dates back to 1895.

Dr. Palmer  Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer made a manual adjustment of a neck vertebra, and restored the hearing of a man named Harvey Lillard.  Two years later, in 1897, Dr. Palmer went on to begin what is now called the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. (Photo courtesy

Dr. G. Stanford Pierce Sr., his father, and his grandfather, and five other family members spanning three generations have all received doctor of chiropractic degrees from the Palmer College.

  D.D. Palmer’s son, Bartlett Joshua (B.J.), took over the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1904, and led the school through the 1950s.  During that time he developed a lot of progress and introduced concepts into the profession, including introducing x-ray to chiropractic, studying spinal biomechanics and morphology, and finding ways to improve reproducibility in both spinal adjustments and patient outcomes.  By the 1930s, B.J. Palmer had discovered that he was able to get the best full spine patient outcomes by dealing specifically with the upper neck and brainstem area, and dedicated the rest of his career to teaching and further advancing knowledge of the upper cervical spine complex.(Photo Palmer School of Chiropractic)

John Francis Grosti, Chiropractor Ralph Gregory, Chiropractor
John Francis Grostic Ralph Gregory

In the 1940s, two upper cervical doctors,   John Francis Grostic and  Ralph Gregory, collaborated to further refine the upper cervical work.  Their revisions primarily included the development of the orthogonal upper cervical model (90° alignment of the atlas with respect to the skull and neck), the side posture adjustment (the head positioned without maximal rotation), and the reduction of the depth of the corrective thrust.  These progressions revealed the concept of “holding” a correction, and not needing repetitive adjustments.  Gregory’s students went on to develop what is currently known as the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA), while Grostic’s pupils went on to cultivate what is today known as the Society of Chiropractic Orthospinology.
As the Grostic seminars continued, finding ways to make the upper cervical correction more reproducible was always at the forefront.  Proponents of hand-held adjusting instruments evolved in the 1970s, and were able to achieve similar or superior results to previous hand adjusting models.  These doctors went on to create the society for chiropractic orthospinology (mentioned earlier).  Around the same time, Dr. Roy Sweat, who started teaching the Grostic seminars in the 1960s, introduced table-mounted instrument adjusting into the upper cervical world.  In 1982, he started the Atlas Orthogonal seminar series and R.W. Sweat Institute, with an aim to standardize the procedure and reduce human error in the delivery of the correction. (Photo courtesy Google images)

Pierce Clinic of Chiropractic Doctor G. Stanley Pierce, Sr.In the late 1960s, Dr. G. Stanford Pierce Sr. was also learning Grostic-based upper cervical procedures. In addition to working alongside Dr. Sweat in developing the Atlas Orthogonal procedure, Dr. Pierce helped instruct the seminars in the 1990’s.  During that time, he also developed a student-intern program to teach upper cervical care at his clinic in St. Petersburg, FL.  Always looking for ways to refine the procedure, minimize doctor error, and simultaneously make procedures more reproducible and improve patient outcomes, in 2001, the Advanced Orthogonal Institute was formally established.  Created with his son Dr. Stan Pierce Jr., a 1999 graduate of Life University in Marietta, GA, the Advanced Orthogonal program has progressed to its present position of high esteem in the upper cervical community.

Today, Advanced Orthogonal chiropractic stands alone as the most evolved offspring of the upper cervical procedures.  It is the only procedure within the profession that includes:

  •  Measuring the misalignment according to the patient’s gravitational and neurological normal, taking any genetic abnormalities into account
  • Refined correction lines of drive via digital and laser alignment of the patient
  • Motorized table shoulder-piece to refine patient positioning, and reduce strain on the doctor
  • Digital x-ray analysis to measure misalignments to the 1/100th of a degree
  • Percussion-wave instrument adjusting based 100% on the patient’s misalignment variables

The outcomes of these refinements have eliminated as much human-error from the misalignment puzzle as possible.  Through dedicated study and strict adherence to the fundamentals, these enhancements allow the Advanced Orthogonal doctor with a consistent clinical procedure for accurate evaluation and reduction of the atlas subluxation complex.  Furthermore, the doctor can have confidence in using a protocol that allows conclusive, dependable, and repeatable objective results.