From Activator to Upper Cervical: An Interview With Dr. Joey Miles

by The Atlas of Life on February 10, 2010

Dr. Joey Miles is an Upper Cervical Chiropractor practicing in Hickory, NC.

It’s funny because I’ve seen Dr. Miles at a couple seminars, but never got to know him until I started interacting with him on Facebook. Needless to say, I’ve learned a few things from him through these interactions.

I’m grateful Dr. Miles took time to answer some questions for The Atlas of Life. I found his answers to be very interesting.

Dr. Harshe: What made you decide to become a chiropractor?

Dr. Miles: “I think I have a pretty interesting story here, Brandon. I was raised in the typical allopathic mind set family. I always joke about the cabinet in the kitchen that most people would use for dishes. One of ours was used as our family’s medicine cabinet.

I played basketball throughout my childhood, and I remember one day at practice not being able to get the basketball above my head. For those not familiar with shooting a basketball, you have to lift your shoulders above your head to shoot properly. I told my coach about the pain and his response was to “play through the pain.” I was a starter for the team, so not playing, in my mind, was not an option.

I did what made sense to me, which was to visit the family pharmacy, the family medicine cabinet. I found several small bottles of  Nuprin (ibuprofen) and thought I found what I needed. I took a couple bottles down to the area where I got ready in the morning and began a self-prescribed Nuprin regiment to treat and prevent the shoulder pain and dysfunction.

The great thing at the time was, when on Nuprin, I could play ball with little to no pain. The bad thing was, Nuprin wasn’t getting to the cause of my problem and actually began to cause other problems in my body. After using drug therapy for a few months, I noticed a new  burning stomach pain that I hadn’t experienced before.

This is when I started to tell my mom that something was wrong. I explained to her the shoulder pain I was experiencing and the importance of getting rid of the pain so I could continue playing the love of my life, basketball. She took me to the place we had always gone, the medical doctor. The doctor told us that the cause of my stomach problems was the Nuprin (ibuprofen) and that I needed to quit taking it. I then explained the issue with my shoulder. The medical doctor took a couple x-rays of both shoulders. After processing the films, he brought them in and showed them to my mother and me. He told us that he couldn’t see anything wrong with my shoulder and referred me to an Orthopedist.

We made an appointment within a few days and showed up to my appointment. I was around 14-16 years old at the time and I still remember this as clear as if it were yesterday. The Orthopedist came in and told me, “Son, there is nothing wrong with your shoulder but if the pain continues to bother you, we can go in and shave off some bone.” Thankfully we chose to wait and not make a decision that really didn’t make much sense.

It just so happened that around the same time my father was going through a very difficult time in his life.

My father has a unique profession. He has done a “Salute to Elvis” show for as long as I can remember. He has been called, by many of Elvis’s closest friends and band members, the best. Check out for more info.

Dad was actually having to retire from his profession to under go his second back surgery. As fate would have it, on the last night of preforming to a sold out crowd, he announced to the crowd why he was having to retire. There just so happened to be a Chiropractor in the audience. The Chiropractor approached my dad after the show telling Dad that if he would let the doctor try, that he could be back to work in a few months and avoid retirement and continue his gift of entertaining people.

Needless to say, Dad was skeptical (my favorite patients). A long story short, Dad began to get his life back. After seeing results for himself, Dad began to bring in the family to get checked. I remember my first visit very well. This was all very new and different to me at this time in my life. I found it very interesting when the Chiropractor explained to me how the Brain and the Nerve system controls the entire body… including healing.

It just so happened that I was sick with “strep throat” on this visit. Without telling the Chiropractor much about me, he performed his exam and was actually able to tell me more about what was going on in my body than any doctor ever had in my life. I was quite impressed.

After adjusting me, the Chiropractor told me that my sore throat would probably be 50% better tomorrow. When I woke the next morning, my sore throat felt 90% better. I looked in the mirror to see if the “white spots” in my throat were still there. They were all gone and I was amazed.

Up to this point in my life, every time I got “strep throat,” I was taken to the medical doctor, put on a 2 weeks of antibiotics and somewhere along that time the symptoms would typically clear up. With this case of “strep throat,” I received an adjustment to my spine and I got well almost over night. On top of that, the Chiropractor that helped me, explained very simply how we get sick and how we get well. His explanation made the most sense of anything I had ever heard in regards to health.

Within a short period of time, my stomach and shoulder pain also began to get well. I decided then that this was my passion and calling, to be a Chiropractor.”

Dr. Harshe: How did you get into upper cervical?

Dr. Miles: “I ended up at Logan College for my chiropractic education. The biggest reasons I chose Logan was two fold: 1) Life University was going through their challenges with CCE. And 2) Logan was where the Activator Method of Chiropractic started, and this was the adjustive procedure the doctor used to help my family.

On a side note, the chiropractor that helped my family and introduced me to chiropractic, had an Upper Cervical focus, primarily because as a child he had Polio and was flown to Davenport, Iowa where he received H.I.O care and got well.

When I arrived at Logan, my roommate was Dr. Adam Tanase. He was about to graduate, and really took me under his wing to teach me what he had worked through and learned while at a school that truly doesn’t teach much Chiropractic principle or practice. Dr. Tanase encouraged me to begin  reading the Green Books and to always ask questions when a professor at school was teaching things that didn’t quit make sense. He then began to explain to me the Chiropractic principle along with the practice and procedure of Upper Cervical care.

To be honest, I was mesmerized and excited about everything he was sharing with me because it made so much common sense. Even though everything Dr. Tanase shared with me made sense, I didn’t come to Logan to learn Upper Cervical, I came to learn Activator. So I chose to put that UC stuff on hold for a while so I could pursue the Activator procedure.

I quickly became involved in the Activator club on campus and within a short period of time, I became president of the club and traveled all over the country going to instructor conferences. I would teach the technique during club 2-3 days a week.

What truly excited me about the Activator Method of chiropractic was the system it utilized which consisted of pre-tests to determine if a subluxation was present, and post-tests after the adjustment to see if what you did worked. What a concept! Believe it or not, this common sense approach was vacant in most of the forms of chiropractic being taught at the college. Activator had reproducible objective tests for both pre and post assessment.

Now after teaching the technique through most of my education, a friend of mine, Phil Myers, come to club and asked me if I would check him but NOT adjust him. At the time, this was a very strange question. I was used to checking and adjusting students all throughout my time in club, no one had ever asked to get checked but NOT adjusted.

My question to him was, “Why would you not want to be adjusted?” Phil explained that he was under Upper Cervical care and my adjustments could possibly interfere with his care.

He had also heard that I used leg checks in the technique I was teaching and one assessment to determine if he was “holding” was a leg check. I hadn’t really heard anyone talk or care about “holding” since my talks with Dr. Tanase. I figured I would humor Phil and check him.

He laid down and I preformed a prone Deerfield-Thompson leg check. Phil’s legs were balanced.

I had never checked anyone when their legs were balanced to start. I had heard you might find it but it was rare, so when I saw this, initially I thought to myself, “Phil must have just been adjusted.”

So I asked him, “when was the last time your were adjusted?”

He said, “six weeks ago.”

I thought to myself, “Liar!” But I went on with my assessment. I performed every Activator “Isolation” test I could think of, and I knew a lot of them. I checked every single segment of his spine, his hips, knees, elbows, I mean everything I could think of. No positive test showed up. His legs stayed balanced in a neutral position and with the knees in flexion.
Frustrated, I brought Phil up off the table. I said, “Ok Phil, what’s the deal? Seriously, when were you last adjusted?”

He said, “Six weeks ago. Why?”

Extremely frustrated, I told him “Because I couldn’t find any indication of subluxation/nerve interference in your body.”

The reason for my frustration was that I wanted what he was living: a subluxation free state. I got great results symptomatically with the procedure I was using, but I continued to see the same subluxated patterns show up, not only in myself, but all the people I checked regularly. After examining Phil, he showed that he didn’t even need an adjustment.

Being, what I considered anyway, a Principled subluxation based chiropractor, I knew that the adjustment wasn’t what allowed the body to heal, instead it was not being subluxated. So then I asked Phil if I could go with him the next time he went to see his UC chiropractor.

Phil said,”Sure, but he (Dr. Robert Brooks) is in Tulsa, OK.”

Once again, I was kind of thrown for a loop. I said, “Phil you are crazy. Here we are at a chiropractic college with tons of doctors and students, and you drive 5-6 hours south to get checked and sometimes adjusted.”

Phil said, “Yeah, and according to your checks, I have been ‘holding’ for six weeks.” He had a point.

Phil then asked if I would continue to check him so he would know when we needed to make the trip. I agreed and I checked Phil everyday for another six weeks. Finally, after checking him for six weeks Phil laid down on the table and his left leg appeared to be 1 1/2 inches shorter than the right.

I was excited. This let me know several things. 1) Phil is human. 2) When Phil is subluxated his body manifests an obvious response that anyone could see.

We took a trip that weekend to Tulsa to visit Dr. Brooks office. It was quit an experience. I saw more amazing things in that one day in Dr. Brooks’ office than I had ever heard of on Logan’s campus.

When I got back to Logan I decided I really had to look into this Upper Cervical stuff. I bought my Volume 18 (where it all began) and Erikson’s Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex.

While reading these books, I began to feel that I had wasted so much time in my chiropractic education and also felt cheated in my education since the only thing I ever heard about Upper Cervical care at Logan was, “That’s B.J. Palmer nonsense and it doesn’t work.”

Tell that to the patients that travel many times, over several state lines, to specifically receive Upper Cervical care. Once you see the Truth, you can’t go back.

I have been learning ever since.”

Dr. Harshe: What technique do you utilize and why?

Dr. Miles: “I utilize the Upper Cervical system of care. Our goal in my practice is to clear the nerve system of interference with as few interventions/adjustive thrusts as possible.

This is done in-order for the communication pathways between the Brain and the body to remain open so that Innate can “correct” or restore spinal balance.

When this is achieved, the spine can then stabilize and reduce the amount of time spent in an “interference” state effecting the nerve system leading to body dysfunction.

To do that, we take specific Upper Cervical x-ray views, utilize thermal pattern analysis, bilateral styloid fossa readings, and body balance checks/leg checks to measure the physiological and bio-mechanical effects of the Upper Cervical subluxation.

All these exams and steps are used to make sure we are confident of when a person is subluxated or in need of an adjustment and just as important, to know when they are NOT subluxated, so we don’t go in and move things when it is not necessary… this would interfere with the healing process.

To specifically answer your question though, I practice H.I.O or Palmer Upper Cervical Specific in both the knee posture and side posture. The reason why, is because it works really well for me and my patients tend to hold their alignments very well. I feel it is the perfect match of both the Principle and the Practice without contradiction.”

Dr. Harshe: Where do you practice and what has your experience been like?

Dr. Miles: “I practice in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Hickory, NC. I took over the Upper Cervical Health Centers office that Dr. Kevin Broome initially started, and later purchased the practice from Dr. Ray Drury.

Our experience has been amazing. Within a year of purchasing the practice and utilizing the systems UCHC teaches, we doubled the size of the practice and built up a 2-3 month new patient waiting list in my first year as the owner.

The experience of taking care of people could be described in two ways:

1) It is so rewarding! Seeing so many lives changed, living without nerve interference is something you have to see to really understand and believe. That is not to say that you won’t see some amazing results in other forms of chiropractic care, but I really think it is similar to comparing “Apples and Oranges”. Two totally different focuses and different results. Both get results, but they are different.

2) It’s challenging and can be frustrating. What I mean here is, Upper Cervical care is not easy to provide and practice. It is a discipline that requires focus and “slipping and checking”. But once you get the right listing, adjust it the right way, and you get the patients holding their alignment, the lasting results and life changing healing that takes place are second to none!”

Dr. Harshe: You are very knowledgeable on the dangers of vaccines. What prompted you to learn so much about this subject?

Dr. Miles: “Brandon, I wish I could take credit for some of the knowledge I have in both Upper Cervical Chiropractic and the subject of vaccination, but truly I have learned everything from those who have been around much longer then me. I truly get to stand on the shoulders of giants to learn what it is I share with people.

Initially, Dr. Tanase started sharing with me his senior thesis which was a literature review on vaccination. He also gave me my first book on the subject by Neil Z. Miller ( All of Neil Z. Miller’s books are true gems. There is information in there so that the tough questions can be answered for anyone with any level of education.

Then came a really cool experience for me. While at Logan, I was an avid listener to the monthly Chiropractic audio series “On Purpose” with Drs. Gentempo and Kent. One month they interviewed Dr. Rebecca Carley M.D. She told her story, which is available to listen to on her website After listening to it, I remember thinking, I would love to meet this lady and if she loves Chiropractic then I know she would love Upper Cervical Chiropractic.

Long story short here, both Dr. Carley and myself moved to Hickory, NC around the same time. I found out by seeing that she was giving a talk at a local Naturopathic doctors office. I attended the talk and told her that she needed to come check out what we do at UCHC. She has been a good friend and patient of Upper Cervical care ever since. She has taught me a lot. She loves Upper Cervical Chiropractic care. Dr. Carley has always recommended that her clients get under Chiropractic care but now specifically recommends Upper Cervical care because of her experience and knowledge having been under both forms of care.”

Dr. Harshe: I come across more and more people unsure if they should get their children all of the recommended immunizations, or even any at all. What advice do you have for these uncertain parents?

Dr. Miles: “The best advice I can give, is not make any decisions until you have taken the time to fully look into the subject. One resource from one point of view is not enough with such and important decision. I feel my wife and I are well rounded on the subject due to the time we have taken to research through books, videos, and conversations with doctors and others who have studied the subject.

It is understandably a very difficult decision to make. We all want the best for our children and ourselves. Some excellent resources are of course Neil Z. Miller’s website and books (, Dr. Mayer Eisenstein M.D’s books and website (, Mary Tocco’s website (, Dr. Andrew Moulden M.D.’s website (, and Dr. Rebecca Carley M.D’s website (… just to name a few.

I will say this: it will be a cold day in hell before  my family or I would receive any vaccinations. This is our educated and researched choice.

I think everyone should have the opportunity to make their educated choice as well. Unfortunately, it takes work to receive that educated choice, mainly because all that most doctors are taught is that vaccines are safe and effective. As I looked further into the subject, I found that nothing could be further from the truth. Please educate before you choose to vaccinate.”

Dr. Harshe: What do you envision for the future of Upper Cervical Chiropractic?

Dr. Miles: “I think this is one of the most important questions we could all ask. I am finding out that not all chiropractors share my vision.

I am going to try to explain why I have this vision first. Knowing what I know now, and living the last several years of my life under Upper Cervical care, I am upset that I had to live most of my life up to this point not knowing that Upper Cervical care was an option. I am thankful for the care I received, but now know there is a difference. I suffered with many different health issues growing up, and I now know that Upper Cervical care could have saved me the the heart ache and pain.

But my vision is not about me, it’s about all the other sick and suffering people out there who don’t know we can help, and the solution to their health problems may just be “that their head is not on straight.” These are the words that are always frustrating to hear, “I wished I had known about this years ago!”

We have a difficult road ahead of us for several reasons: First and foremost, our own profession gets little to no explanation or education as to what it is Upper Cervical Chiropractors do. Many Chiropractors think that we all provide the same type of care. Many Chiropractors think that all Upper Cervical “adjustments” are created equal. Many Chiropractors think that Upper Cervical Chiropractors “worship” BJ Palmer and neglect the other areas of the spine and/or body. These views are all incorrect and due to the lack of explanation and education on the subject in Chiropractic college.

Second, the public doesn’t know about us yet on the level that they need us. How could they when there are so few of us out there doing Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic care?

Third, other health care professionals need to know that Upper Cervical care is an option for both themselves but especially the patients they see. So my vision for the future of Upper Cervical Chiropractic is for the chiropractic profession to better understand and embrace that there are different forms of chiropractic care available to learn and to utilize to help people.

Here is something to think about: An Orthopedist, Pediatrician, Neurologist, and General Practitioner are all medical doctors. They have different focuses, different tools, different terminology, different outcomes assessments, and different forms of care, but are all considered and recognized as M.D.’s.

I not sure how many different forms of Chiropractic care are out there, but I do know that Upper Cervical care is one, and due to the research and results that are typical in Upper Cervical practices, more people need to know about it.

I hope doctors in our profession can better understand why many Upper Cervical doctors refer to themselves as Upper Cervical doctors. It not because we are not chiropractors. We are!

I think it’s a disservice to the public to not let them know that what we do as Upper Cervical doctors/chiropractors is different.

I hope to see that the newly formed Council on Upper Cervical Care is able to articulate what differentiates Upper Cervical care and what its goals are so that more chiropractors will begin to understand about this misunderstand sector of our profession (by the way, it’s not the Principle or Philosophy that differentiates us, it’s the Practice).

My vision is to see what I believe Dr. B.J. Palmer was working toward, more chiropractors becoming trained (currently most don’t know that they are not trained) and focusing their practices on Upper Cervical care so that more of the public can experience ‘The Power of Upper Cervical.’”