The Chrane Condyle Lift Technique – A Lost Treasure of Chiropractic History

By Dr. Ray Bongiovi

There can be little dispute about the supreme importance the upper cervical spine plays in relation to one’s overall health. According to chiropractic and medical research, upper cervical adjustments in particular are renowned for the miraculous results which helped make chiropractic famous. (1,2, 3, 4) Since the original work of Dr.’s Al Wernsing and B.J. Palmer in the 1920’s and 1930’s, our profession has developed a number of specific upper cervical techniques. Most of these techniques are low force, specific hand or instrument adjustments of some type whose aim is to correct the upper cervical subluxation as precisely measured on x-ray analysis. They also tend to be very exacting, time-consuming and complicated.

Another, all but forgotten, upper cervical technique was developed in the 1920’s by Dr. Virgil Chrane of Texas. Unlike the detailed x-ray analysis, mathematical configurations and precise set-ups of most other specific upper cervical methods, Dr. Chrane’s method used a very simple x-ray procedure, analysis and quite impressive manual adjusting method.

I recall while still a student at Life Chiropractic College, I would observe students get a specific upper cervical adjustment from some chiropractic master, and they’d get up and be like, “Wow!”. I would get adjusted as well and although I knew the adjustment was superbly and scientifically delivered, I truthfully never had that “wow” feeling. However, I will NEVER forget the first time I was aligned by Dr. Virgil Chrane, Jr. My thought process immediately following his adjustment as I lay on the table, was: “WOW! If I ever get cancer, THIS is the adjustment I want.”

The Chrane Condyle Lift alignment as it was called would not be considered a low force, specific upper cervical adjustment. In contrast it is a unique, dramatic, dynamic, high velocity, intense decompressive alignment of the upper cervical spine performed manually in three or four adjustive thrusts. Clear, distinct audibles are usually heard and decompressive effects are often felt by the patient all the way down the spine to the lumbo-sacral region. It is nothing like a diversified or rotary break cervical adjustment. While some cervical adjustments create audible release and can be quite intense in their own right, this adjustment produces a highly intense audible release in the upper cervical and often lower cervical spine as well as creating a lengthening, decompressive effect felt throughout the entire spine. It is unlike any adjustment a patient has ever experienced. It is unique, dramatic and intense. The mental and physical effects are profound.

Like many other chiropractic adjustment techniques, it requires some degree of doctor coordination, athleticism and stability or strength which can be acquired after much study and practice. As Dr. Chrane said, “It takes days to learn, months to practice and years to master.” His philosophy behind this less-precise but more intense adjustment was to introduce a force into the subluxated upper cervical spine and allow the patient’s innate intelligence to set the vertebrae, similar to B.J.’s teachings of “… Innate alone, in body of patient, can recoil or snap the vertebra into normal position.” (2)

It is a ‘simple’ upper cervical corrective procedure without complex angles and time-consuming analyses. However, it is not so simple to perfect the actual adjusting technique which takes diligent practice and attention to detail in the doctor’s stance, set-up and direction and force of adjusting thrust. This adjustment does not twist the patient’s head but rather stabilizes it securely in a position of slight rotation (15-30 degrees) with the doctor’s stabilizing hand and then a y-axis or straight inferior to superior decompressing force is applied. These two factors, the lack of twisting and the decompressing force applied are the two most critical and unique attributes of this procedure.

Immediately following the adjustment, there is usually a dramatic decrease in cervical spine tension and balancing of supine leg checks. As these are two of the most widely used monitoring procedures by upper cervical chiropractors, having a scientifically proven track record as indicators of reduction of the upper cervical subluxation complex, they show that this procedure is an effective upper cervical corrective technique. (1) Dr. Chrane spoke of studies done with electroencephalographs which revealed that following this adjustment procedure, patients brain waves revealed a great predominance of the desirable alpha brain wave frequency symmetrically in both hemispheres of the brain creating an optimal state of whole-brain function.

It is my understanding that when technique masters, Burl Pettibon, D.C. and the late Vern Pierce, D.C. got together in South Carolina to combine their knowledge to develop more effective spinal corrective adjusting procedures, they were introduced to this procedure by Dr. Gary Ryan of Hawaii and they were both blown away. They knew that they had to somehow implement this into their technique. When I took Pettibon’s Technique seminar in the mid 1990’s, there it was, slightly modified but still very similar to the Chrane Condyle Lift adjustment. In fact it is a key adjustment in the initial intensive care phase of patient management in Pettibon’s procedure.

Dr. Virgil Chrane, Sr. developed this technique over 9 years and used his technique exclusively, seeing hundreds of patients per day from the 1920’s-1960. In 1947 Dr. James W. Parker personally witnessed Dr. Chrane align 268 people in two hours and twenty minutes. He routinely saw between two-hundred and three-hundred people a day. Dr. Chrane said, “If you are seeing twenty people a day, you should only be open twenty minutes.” Dr. Virgil Chrane, Jr. learned the technique directly from his father and practiced it exclusively until 1971 when he voluntarily relinquished his chiropractic license because he saw the chiropractic profession moving further away from the true, core philosophy and more towards a therapeutic modality for treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Dr. Chrane, Jr. then continued doing and teaching the technique as a part of a new-age metaphysical philosophy called Alphabiotics.(5)

As with most upper cervical techniques, this method was known for its many miraculous results. Dr. Chrane, Jr. stated, “I’ve seen so many blind people regain their sight that it doesn’t even phase me anymore. We’ve had literally dozens of people regain their hearing and sight.” He spoke of these miracles almost as a simple matter of facts. Dr. Chrane stated that he wrote a book in 1950 where pre and post x-rays were shown with great corrections.

Due to the neurological power of the upper cervical region, it should be the chiropractor’s primary goal to master upper cervical subluxation correction. While some doctors and patients prefer very low force adjustments, some prefer the more dynamic methods. To each his own. Chiropractic offers both extremes to meet the needs of all types of individuals. The Chrane Condyle Lift Technique is a terrific upper cervical adjustment which once perfected can bring about fantastic results and lasting upper cervical corrections.

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About the author:
1989 Life Chiropractic College Graduate. Personally trained and certified by Dr. Virgil Chrane, Jr. in 1990 in the Chrane Condyle Lift Technique. Private practice in Rahway, NJ since 1991. Along with using the Chrane Condyle Lift Technique on 90% of his patient base, Dr. Bongiovi uses Pettibon and CBP techniques as well. Chrane Condyle Lift Technique Seminars are now being held by Dr. Bongiovi in New Jersey. For more information you can contact him at (732) 574-2225 or email him at [email protected]

1. “Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex”, Eriksen, Kirk, D.C., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2004.
2. “The Subluxation Specific – The Adjustment Specific”, Palmer, B.J., D.C., Ph.C., Palmer School of Chiropractic, 1934.
3. “The Cervical Syndrome”, Jackson, Ruth, B.A., M.D., F.A.C.S., Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois, 1978.
4. “Manual Medizin”
5. “The Alphabiotic Answer”, Chrane, Jr., Virgil, 1990.

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