Dr. Ray Drury is a Knee Chest Upper Cervical Chiropractor. In this episode, he and host, Kevin Pecca, talk about the Knee Chest Upper Cervical technique and how this technique essentially saved his life. Dr. Ray tells us how he became an Upper Cervical Chiropractor and established his own practice from the ground up. He then dives into what makes the best Upper Cervical doctor and the responsibility you hold when you have the knowledge in any industry. Lastly, Dr. Ray highlights the importance of mentorship in his field, of finding someone who can guide you along the way even when you think you are at your best already.
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The Knee Chest Upper Cervical Technique With Dr. Ray Drury
We have Dr. Ray Drury out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Ray is a knee, chest, upper cervical chiropractor who has been in practice for many years. When you talk about upper cervical chiropractic, there is a couple of doctors that are renowned in the country and the world and Dr. Ray’s name always comes up because he’s been doing such phenomenal work for such a long time. He’s trained some other amazing doctors under him and his upper cervical chiropractic saved his life as well. That’s how he got into the profession. That’s why he’s passionate about it, still on fire in practice, still doing the upper cervical work, and still preaching this message. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to him about the knee, chest, upper cervical, which is a different technique than Blair Upper Cervical and NUCCA. It’s a good technique. I was able to pick his brain on what it’s like being in practice for many years. Some of the good times, some of the bad times, and how to keep everything going and getting phenomenal results in practice and spreading the good word of upper cervical chiropractic. Without further ado, please welcome Dr. Ray Drury.
We have a special guest, Dr. Ray Drury, a knee, chest, upper cervical chiropractor out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Every time you talk upper cervical, Dr. Ray’s name always comes up. He does some phenomenal work down there. He’s been doing it for a while and I’m excited to talk about upper cervical, his life story, and how he got into it. Dr. Drury, how are you?
I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful day here in Carolina. I figured, “Let’s go outside and do this.”
Dr. Ray, where are you from originally?
I’m from Kentucky.
Were you in a chiropractic family or is that something you found later in life?
I didn’t start off in a chiropractic family. When I was about ninth grade, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to help people. At the time, all I knew was medicine. My parents were divorced. When my dad called me up and said, “I am moving to Kansas City and going to Chiropractic College,” I’m thinking, “Whatever.” All I knew was they did something to your back like a back doctor or something. He went off to chiropractic school. I went on through high school, got into undergrad, started taking my prereqs for medical school.
How old was your father when he jumped into chiropractic school?
He graduated when he was 43. He was probably about 38 by the time because he had to take some prereqs, too, before he got fully admitted.
I love hearing stories about that. It’s never too late to jump into fully what you want to do.
He was a concrete salesman and had some back problems and ultimately some prostate problems he had for years and went to several medical doctors and no one could help him. I wound up going to the chiropractor because of his back. Subsequently, his prostate stuff cleared up and they started going and talking to this guy and he started explaining to him how the body worked and he adjusted his spine and his prostate. He was like, “This is cool. I want to do this.” It turns out that the doctor he went to and saw for the first time worked in the BJ Palmer Research Clinic. I never even got to meet him, but I heard all about it.
My dad got out of chiropractic school. I was still planning to go to medical school. We went on a little fishing trip, which he and I used to do before he went away to school. During that trip, he kept talking to me about chiropractic and how the body is a cell and an organism that doesn’t need any help and I’m hardheaded, I get it from him. By the end of that week, I was like, “Maybe there’s something to this chiropractic thing.” I started researching a little bit more and when it was all said and done, I was like, “If I go to medical school, my dad is going to make me feel stupid for the rest of my life.” Because every argument I brought up if I get a headache, you think it is from a Tylenol deficiency and all that stuff. I was like, “Why not go after the cause instead of a mask and stuff with drugs?” That led me to chiropractic school.
I went to Logan, primarily because my dad went to Kansas City. Cleveland said, “Don’t go there.” He knew a guy that went to Life that said, “Don’t go there.” We knew a guy that went to Palmer said, “Don’t go there.” We didn’t know anybody that had been to Logan. That’s why I wound up at Logan. Good and bad Logan was not what I would classify good chiropractic school. It was a good school to pass boards. They taught us everything we needed to know to pass boards, a lot of medical diagnoses and stuff. Fortunately, while in chiropractic school, I got sick and called that fortunate or not, but I was in bad shape.
School was always easy for me. I didn’t have to study that hard and all of a sudden I got stupid overnight. I couldn’t study. I studied for hours and walked away and come back and couldn’t even tell you what I had read. I started having difficulty sleeping. My energy was bad. My gums bled constantly. I would brush my teeth and it would be bright red every time I did. I got achy and at the time I was trying to get into Gonstead, we were scoping out. I liked the idea of Gonstead more so than any other full spine because at least they only adjusted 2, maybe 3 segments cross sympathetic, parasympathetic. They used an instrument to check people and determine when to, when not to. They X-rayed everybody. It was a specific analysis from a full spine standpoint. It made the most sense to me.
I started getting checked and I was getting adjusted every day. They always scoped some break somewhere but my health kept getting worse and worse. I met a guy at a seminar that a city did this upper cervical stuff and he said, “You should come down and check it out sometime.” I’m like, “Why would you only adjust two bones when there are 24. You can adjust those two and then the others as well.” It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but my health kept getting worse. Finally, I called that guy up and I said, “Do you mind if I come down and follow you around and check you out?” He said, “Yes, come on down.”
I went down and while I was there, the guy checked me, X-rayed me, put me on the knee, chest table, and gave me an adjustment. I thought, “This is cool. Interesting.” He post-scans me and things change. It went from a crooked line to straight line, whatever that meant. I drove back two hours back to St. Louis and about the time I pulled in the driveway, I didn’t feel sick, but I had this cold sweat come over me and nausea. I took off toward the house and ultimately threw up all over my front porch. I walked into the house, rinsed my mouth out, laid in the bed, lights on, fully dressed because I’m a dude. Before I was sick, I wasn’t sick.
I woke up twelve hours later in the exact same position, fully dressed, lights on and then thinking, “This guy knocked me out. He’s doing some voodoo stuff on me. He messed me up.” I went and brushed my teeth. My gums didn’t bleed the first time in six months. There was no blood overnight. That made me think, “Maybe something’s on.” That doctor called me and he was like, “How’d you do after your first adjustment?” I said, “I don’t know what you did, but I was sick before, but I wasn’t this sick. You made me throw up and it’s awesome.” I’m like, “What do you mean? What are you talking about?” He goes, “Think about it. You had some virus, something in your system and we adjust your body, woke up and what’s the quickest exit? It’s right out the front door.”
I will tell you from that point on, my whole life changed. I slept better. My energy went up, my brain worked better, my vision improved. My whole life had severe allergies, cats, everything. All of a sudden, those things disappeared, the chronic, lower back issue. My dad was a chiropractor but he didn’t adjust me every time I saw him because of that spot always out. Come to find out, it was a compensation for something going on higher. Once we got the atlas and axis back in place, everything else realigned and the rest is history. From that point, I knew what I was going to do. That was my first year. At that point, I started going down to see Dr. Kale. I went through his program, which is a total of seven seminars a year. I went through it twice before I graduated. I had two years left going through that. Immediately after graduation, I went on a couple of mission trips with Dr. Kale and moved to North Carolina where I opened my first practice.
That’s one hell of a story, Doc. It’s powerful. Most upper cervical doctors that get the best results usually it saved their life in some type of way. It’s amazing to see. What was life like in early practice days?
My dad, when he got out of school, bought somebody else’s existing practice and had been there for 30 years. To this day, he’s never advertised. It was a small town in Kentucky. He went in and it was in the town that he grew up, everybody knew him. By the time he moved back and opened up, everybody already knew and had heard of Dr. Drury. I opened my practice, thinking, “I’ll do the same thing.” After the third month, I was a Southeast Regional Solitaire Champion. I finally decided, “I better get off my butt and start making something happen.” I called a longtime mentor of mine, Dr. Sigafoose, and I said, “Dr. Sig, what’s the best way to build a practice?” He said, “You need to meet 1,000 people.” I said, “How do you do that?” He said, “You go out and you knock on doors and businesses. You knock on residential doors and you meet people. I want you to collect 1,000 business cards. When you collect 1,000 business cards, you will build a business.”
I didn’t have anything else to do. I was sitting around an empty office, so I went out and started knocking on doors. I went in the evenings and weekends, I knocked on residential doors. On weekdays, during business hours, I knocked on businesses. I knocked on the door and talked to them. Back then, we didn’t have a publisher or anything to make PDFs. I cut stuff out, glued it together, and took it to a printer. This was years ago. All different fonts and different styles, I took it to a printer and they photocopied it onto a piece of colored paper with the little special offer $49 first visit or something like that. I made that and I walked around and introduced myself, I said, “I’m Dr. Drury. I’m an upper cervical doctor. I’m new in the area. Who do you see in your life?”
They looked at me like I had two heads. They were like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, “Who’s your upper cervical doctor?” They were like, “I don’t have an upper cervical doctor.” I’m like, “You need to hear what I’ve got to say.” People started listening and started building up a business. On top of that, I started doing talks, anywhere anybody would let me speak. I spoke at fire departments, police departments, churches, Lions, Rotary, Civic Hands, any support group that I could find. My friend, Dr. Vanya and I opened at the same time in St. Louis and we had a contest going on every week who could speak to the most people and he’ll attest we average 2 to 3 a week.
My practice grew fast and I was in Morrisville, which is about 30 minutes North of Charlotte. I had many people come in from Charlotte. I opened in February. By December, I had opened my second practice in Charlotte. I was working three days a week in each. I did that for 8.5 years. I don’t recommend that. It’s twice the overhead for the same amount of energy. As soon as I sold that Morrisville office and opened in Charlotte, the first month, that office doubled, the second month it tripled. It was because of that wild energy. It was split. It’s not a great idea, but I was young, dumb, and I had nothing but time and energy and I loved what I did. I wanted to tell the world and I wanted to see a million people a week.
Dr. Ray, you can knock on 1,000 doors, collect 1,000 business cards but the main thing is you’ve got to start getting results. What is knee, chest, upper cervical chiropractic? How has it been successful for you and your patients?
That is the technique that BJ Palmer led to in the research center. Michael Kale taught me. He practiced for 43, 44 years. He had eight practices in South Carolina and successful at it. He learned from Lyle Sherman who was the head of the research center and its atlas-axis. We adjust on a knee test, the knee posture table, which is the knees on the ground, chest on the table, head turned left or right. We do instrumentation, pre-post, post-rest, and then post-scan. We take three X-rays, open mouth, based posterior, and neutral lateral. From Dr. Kale’s, Dr. Palmer’s estimate, there are 274 ways to tap your bones to move. We are specific in how we correct it, but it’s by hand on a neat posture table.
The same idea of holding is healing. Can you go on a little bit about that?
We pre-check everyone before they get adjusted. We establish a pattern. When they first come in, we’ll check them three times in a row so we get a consistent pattern. From that point on, that’s our guideline when to adjust and when not. We don’t do leg lengths, we don’t do perils, we don’t do any of that stuff. We’re 100% nerve energy. That dictates everything. We check if they’re in the pattern, we adjust. If they’re not in the pattern, we’ll send them home. Every now and then if it’s questionable one way or another, I have no problem probably, 3 to 5 or 6 times a day. If I have a questionable pattern, we’ll rest them 10, 15 minutes. We’ll rest and we’ll check them again to make a call whether to adjust or whether not to. We always try to lean on the conservative side. If it’s questionable again, we usually send them home, bring them back in a day or two and see where we’re at.
It’s probably been amazing for you to have started and to where the upper cervical profession is now with the plain film, the digital X-rays. Are you doing CBCT down there?
What has that been like for you, for someone that’s been through everything?
When I first got in practice, we had dip tanks and then we moved up to the processor, cleaning tanks and smell like crap. I got digital. The office I opened here was the first digital I had.
Did you jump on that quick?
I’ve always tried to move with the curve as quickly as I could. I’ve done everything from Blair X-rays. I’ve tried a lot of different analysis always to try to get better at our craft. I had a CR unit for a while and now DR which is the ultimate for X-ray. There are beautiful films and being able to blow them up, and all that stuff was awesome. With the cone beam, we’re learning more and more about the body, how to look at things. I will have to say I’ve found more axis with the cone beam, having a three-dimensional view and being able to look at those facets on the C2/C3 make it beneficial. I can see a little higher when the atlas slides up the canal down or slides down the canal. It’s so much easier to see when you can turn it in 3D. We’ve learned a lot with the cone beam and we’re still learning. The technology is awesome. It makes our job that much easier.
Dr. Ray, what do you think makes a sound upper cervical doctor?
There are a lot of upper cervical doctors that either don’t have the confidence or they don’t have the philosophical foundation. There are a lot of people that are like, “I’ll do upper cervical, but I also go down and do a lumbar roll or I’ll do a thoracic here and there or do some therapy or something like that.” I can’t tell you how many upper cervical doctors have told me that they do upper cervical, but they do some low back stuff too. I’m like, “Why?” They’re like, “Sometimes the upper cervical spine is holding but their back still needs to be adjusted.” That’s crap. It’s 100% compensation. If the neck is in place, then the back is either aligned or working its way toward being aligned.
One thing I have to say, when I first met Dr. Kale, I met him at the DE seminar. The one thing I noticed was, first of all, the room was packed. He was passionate like pounding on these The Green books. Back then, it was his black version of Volume 18. It was hair flying everywhere, tearing stuff up. What attracted me most to him was I’d never seen someone that was passionate about anything. I noticed at the end of his talk that there was a line down the hall around the corner, probably 200 or 300 people in line to get adjusted by Dr. Kale. I’m like, “He must be good.” In that line were other people that were speaking at the seminar, they all wanted to be adjusted by Dr. Kale. The whole time somebody else would check and he was adjusting, I’m asking him questions.
He finally got to a point where he was like, “What’s your name? Are you Southern?” I said, “My name is Ray.” He comes over and he picks up one of those The Green books Volume 18, he hit me in the chest with it and he said, “Take this, read this, don’t ask me another question until you’ve read it, then we can have a good conversation.” I’m like, “Okay.” He shut me up quickly. I took the book home and I read it. It took me about a month because it was the only one BJ said, “You need to read three times.” There’s a reason because some of the paragraphs I had to read over and over to make sense of it.
Once you make sense of it, it much answers all those questions. I will say that because of that and the fact that Dr. Kale had me read Fight to Climb, Answers, History Repeats, Up From Below the Bottom, The Bigness of The Fellow Within, all these books. By the time I graduated from chiropractic school, I was sound. I believed in what I did 100%. I thought I was the best chiropractor to ever walk on the planet. I’m still learning. At the time, I was confident at what I did and it came across to our patients. They were confident in me. A lot of it starts with your intent. Your intent has to be dead on. I had patients my first year in practice, I had cancer patients, AIDS patients, babies with epilepsy. I attracted a lot of sick people and it was because Dr. Kale and The Green books had instilled in me that I can help those people. Those people need me.
I looked for those people. I would think, “What makes the best upper cervical doctors that it starts here?” You have to believe it and you have to love it with everything you’ve got. They will find you. I keep telling our young guys all the time, “You don’t need them near as bad as they need you.” You need to get that in your head. You need to know those people are dying because they don’t know you exist. It’s your fault if they die and they never hear about you. It’s your obligation. You have the knowledge. With knowledge comes responsibility. Your responsibility is to share it. If you don’t get it out there, then they’re the ones that are hurting. A lot of people come out of school, these young guys are like, “I don’t want to advertise it. I don’t want to go out and do talks. It makes me look desperate.” That’s crap. You’ve got to get in front of people. Dr. Sigafoose used to say, “Who’s going to tell him about what you’d do, the medic?” If you don’t tell them about what you do, then they are not going to hear about it.
All the best upper cervical doctors, I have been around. Confidence is oozing out of their skin. They know they can help everybody. That’s why I get confused when I found a couple of patients come in and be like, “I called an upper cervical doctor. They said they don’t deal with migraines or tinnitus, they’ve never seen that.” It’s like, “That’s what we do.”
I sent a patient I had for probably a couple of months, was doing phenomenal, but she has some cerebellar ataxia. She has some serious problems. She is going to need care probably for a lifetime. I sent her to a guy and she called me back afterward and it was in another state. She was like, “The guy you sent me to, you said you thought could help me. I sit down with him and he said, ‘I hope your expectations aren’t high on this. We’re going to do our best, but I don’t know if we’re going to be able to help you.”’ I’m like, “You already set that precedent.” She’s sitting there thinking already, “You can’t help me.” You already squashed it for her. You’ve got to say at least yes. Will she ever be 100%? I don’t know. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got and there’s a good chance she could be better, but we don’t know until we get in.
We see some chronic, serious neurological issues that true healing takes time. It’s going to be up and down and it’s going to take several months. Do you think people stick with you and your treatment longer because they do believe in you and they believe in the work you do?
Also, for a while when I first got into practice, I was doing short 6, 8-week chiro plans with somebody who’s had 50 years of degeneration. It was stupid. Dr. John Baker is my mentor. He was like, “Drury, what do you do at the end of 6, 8, 12 weeks? Do you put them on maintenance?” I’m like, “Yes.” He was like, “You think they are at maintenance level at that point?” I’m like, “Not really.” He was like, “Sell them what they need. Don’t do what you think they want to hear. Do what you need. You’re the doctor, you set a precedent and set the plan out with the expectations that you can expect and then it’s up to them.”
When I started doing that, it changed so much because I prescribed for them what they need and I have more people accepting care than I used to. What would happen were they come in for 8, 12 weeks or whatever, and then they only got up to a certain level and they know they’re not well. I’m like, “Why’d you tell me I needed only 2 or 3 months of care when I’m not where I need to be?” I started to see that. I tell them what they need. We’re all cash. They pay upfront before we even get the first adjustment. They’re a lot happier. We’re a lot happier. We get the money out of the way and then it’s like, “Let’s go to work.”
Doc, how do you think we get more doctors doing this work? It’s one of the most amazing techniques on the planet in terms of healing. You get a lot of students fired up about in the beginning, but you see some dropout. We need more people doing the work because it’s life-saving. How do you think we do that?
This was a whole other show, but I did upper cervical health centers about 2006 and 2007. At one point, we had 63 upper cervicals with health centers all over the country. Your friend Drew Hall can tell you a little bit about it. We had the big annual conference, the upper cervical evolution where we would have 300, 400 people come from all over the country. I meet personally, but then several of us would go into every school anywhere we could and talk to them about what we did. They’re going to learn some basics, but they’re not going to learn real upper cervical, not good enough to be proficient at it in school.
The best thing for us to do when we can is to get to those schools, go and speak to them and get them at that grassroots level. You have a lot more success getting them at a younger age when they’re still trying to figure out what they want to do. Those that go out and get somewhat comfortable. I teach knee, chest. Probably about maybe 15% to 20% of our organizations are people that were in practice that realized they weren’t getting the results they wanted. They looked elsewhere and practicing doctors, but probably 80% of our people are students that are learning now so that when they do get to that point like I was, they come out with the tools they need to make it successful. We need to get in front of them. All of us need to take time from our practices and go and promote what we do. That’s the only way.
Everybody in the upper cervical field, if you want to be successful, has to have some type of a mentor because you’re going to run into some things that you haven’t seen before with all the people coming through. It’s important to have somebody like you and Drew Hall and people that had been doing a while that you are doing, reaching out, talking to the kids and saying, “I’m here for you.” It goes a long way.
A mentor is huge. I had several of them. Dr. Kale was mine until he passed away. Dr. Sigafoose until he passed away and Dr. John Baker, fortunately, he has not passed away. I’ve always had a mentor, it’s like Tiger Woods, and he’s always had a coach. You can be the best in the world but you still need guidance along the way.
Dr. Ray, I have a question for you too. You’ve come a long way and we’ve been practicing for many years. How many practices have you set up?
I had five in Italy at one time. That’s up another show. I’ve had five in Charlotte, North Carolina. One was in Hickory, one in Marysville, and then the other three were in Charlotte.
From a fired up kid, getting out of school until now, what are your goals? Where do you want your practices? How does it look for you, someone that’s already accomplished a lot in the field? How does the upper cervical and your practice look for you?
I usually recommend most of these guys not go out and try to reinvent the wheel. The best bet is to find a mentor that has already been where you’ve been. You can save years and millions of dollars learning from someone by going and working with someone for a while. I didn’t have that opportunity. Dr. Kale was the only person anywhere near us and he already had his practices full. There wasn’t anyone for me to learn the business side of things. You know they don’t teach any of that in chiropractic school. I learned school hard knocks and I busted my butt. I didn’t have any kids. I don’t have any family at that time. All I had was time and energy, but it took everything I had as to where if I had gone and learned from somebody, I could’ve cut that learning curve in half. I wouldn’t have done stupid things like open two offices in my first year.
How does it look for you, somebody that’s where you’re at? Do you want to practice until the rest of your days? Do you want to cut back? How does everyday practice look for you at this moment in your life?
I have two other doctors in my practice and they work more than I do, which is cool. They don’t see quite as many people as I do, but they still work more than I do. They’re in there five days a week. I reel it back a little bit. At this point in my life, I get more pleasure out of seeing those guys, the smile on their faces when they get a Parkinson’s patient comes in, they get adjusted, and they’re walking out like that. These people come in and they’re sleeping through the night, that’s cool. Until you put your hands on people and you see that, it’s a belief and then becomes a knowing. For me, I’m reeling back a little bit. I’m probably going to work more on opening some other practices with some of these young docs, helping them get going and teaching them the ropes in the North Carolina area. I was there at 7:30 at the office even though I didn’t have patients. I still get excited about going in and what’s going to happen each and every day.
You seem like a hard worker like myself. When you were starting up the family and everything, how did you balance that? We’re working long hours, we’re seeing a lot of people and then you’ve got the family too.
When you’re a chiropractor, there are certain things that your family has to understand that for one, we do classes. There are some nights I don’t get home until 8:00 because we’re doing patient orientation classes. We’ve got to educate our people. There are times where you have events going on. I still do quite a few seminars, my weekends are gone here and there. Fortunately, my wife, she’s been home with the kids since they were born. She can take care of a lot of that stuff. When we do have time together, it’s a special time. Financially, we have the ability when we go on a lot of trips together. We all go to different directions. Both of my kids, they’re competitive at basketball year-round, they’re constantly on the go. I’m constantly on the go. We set aside times and we plan those out. I’ll spend time together still, even though we all have busy lives.
Dr. Ray, where can people find you online? Where are your practices for anybody that’s looking for a knee, chest, upper cervical chiropractic in the North Carolina area?
You can go to KneeChestSociety.com. That will layout our program. Most of our stuff is online. We have five seminars a year. Before hands-on, solely training, seminars, no PowerPoints, everybody gets in different groups and we work on wherever you are at that point when bringing you up to the next level. We have our annual conference. It’s going to be at Grove Park in October in Asheville. That’s our big conference where we’ll have guest speakers come from all over the world. That’s always a blast. Grove Park is a beautiful place where BJ wrote The Bigness.
At the end of the show, I like to ask all my guests, what is one piece of advice that has resonated with you over the years that you would like to give the audience? It could be anything.
For the younger crowd, I feel that a lot of times you have been misled by the fact thinking that you’re owed something, how you went through school. You’re like, “Thank you.” Pay your dues at that point. That gives you the opportunity to get out and you can have the opportunity to work. If you will come out of school and if you open your practice with the idea that it’s a mission, you’ve got to get in front of as many people as you can that you went through school to get the opportunity to be a doctor and to be able to help people and it’s got to be a mission. It’s got to be a purpose. It’s got to be something that you would give up everything for. When you get to that point, going to work will be like a vacation. It’d be like you get up every morning excited, you can’t wait to get in there. It will be a lot of fun. When it becomes a lot of fun, you can make a lot of money. You can be successful in doing this. I know most of us don’t become chiropractors for the money because there are lot easier ways to make money, but when you do it for the right reason because you love it, you love people and you want to change lives, the money shows up.
Dr. Drury, thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate your knowledge, wisdom, and your dedication to the upper cervical work. I would love to have you back at any time.
It sounds good.
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