Specific Upper Cervical Chiropractic may have a huge impact on your nervous system, brain function, and overall health. If you’re only thinking of chiropractic for pain, then you’re missing out on a potentially life changing experience. Even a small misalignment of your atlas vertebra, called a subluxation, may negatively affect your health. However, a specific upper cervical correction can restore proper function.

There have been numerous cases reported of Upper Cervical Chiropractic helping some patients with various neurologic conditions. Things like parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, seizures, headachesmigraines, and blood pressure have improved for some patients under upper cervical chiropractic care [1].

The anatomy and it’s problems

Many upper cervical chiropractors have been seeing effects like this, but you may be wondering how an adjustment could affect these things. Evidence is pointing to a few things that may be contributing to a number of these conditions.

The upper cervical region, also known as the craniocervical junction (CCJ), is a complex area between your head and your neck. It is made up of the occiput, base of the skull; the atlas, the top bone in your neck; and the axis, the second bone in the neck. It also houses the transition from the brain stem to the spinal cord with a multitude of small ligaments and muscles. Similarly, this area is crucial for the proper flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that supply the brain with nutrients and remove waste.

Atlas Misalignment Subluxation Orthospinology Chiropractic

Minor injuries can cause the atlas vertebra to become misaligned or subluxated. This may put pressure on neurological structures like the brain stem or restrict the flow of blood and cerebral spinal fluid.

Injuries can cause the atlas to become misaligned, especially when the ligaments are damaged, and result in abnormal flow of the blood, CSF, and nerve impulses. A recent study found that losing the natural curve in the neck decreases the output of the vertebral artery [2]. Poor circulation causes sub-par function in the tissues and in this case, brain and nervous tissue is affected. This is compounded by disruption in the CSF flow, which can be caused by misalignments or subluxation of the atlas. For example, it can block the flow of CSF and blood trying to leave the skull creating a back-up of waste products and turbulent flow which have been indicted in several neurodegenerative diseases [3,4].

The adjustment

Adjustments in the neck in traditional Chiropractic are a quick, high-force thrust resulting in the “crack” or “pop” sound that many associate with an adjustment. This is generally effective at restoring motion to locked segments in the spine. However, this may be ineffective at specifically realigning the CCJ.

The three different ways to adjust the upper cervical region. By hand, hand-held instrument, and table mounted instrument.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic is a gentle, low-force (< 5 lbs) adjustment that is carefully measured and tailored to each patient. The instrument or hand is angled along an ideal vector to utilize the lowest force possible to realign the region. In addition, X-rays can help identify this vector.

Pre and post comparison nasium xrays showing improvement in the alignment of the upper cervical region.Pre and post comparison vertex xrays showing improvement in the alignment of the upper cervical region.

Using numerous factors, calculations provide the precise vector to realign the vertebra. This type of radiographic analysis has been found to have good to very good reliability. Similarly, reductions of these misalignments by 30% or more has statistically significant better outcomes for the patient.[1,5]

Effects throughout the body

Adjustments of the atlas can have affects throughout the body because of the CCJ relation to the brain stem. But this is only if the atlas is subluxated. A Doctor of Chiropractic is the only one who can check you for subluxations and be able to tell you if they can help you. In short, See yours today! 

References

  1. Woodfield H, York C, Rochester P, Bales S, Beebe M, Salminen B et al. Craniocervical chiropractic procedures – a précis of upper cervical chiropractic. J Can Chiropr Assoc [Internet]. 2018 [cited 25 June 2018];59(2):173-192. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486989/
  2. Bulut M, Alpayci M, Şenköy E, Bora A, Yazmalar L, Yavuz A et al. Decreased Vertebral Artery Hemodynamics in Patients with Loss of Cervical Lordosis. Medical Science Monitor. 2016;22:495-500. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26876295
  3. Simon M, Iliff J. Regulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow in neurodegenerative, neurovascular and neuroinflammatory disease. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Basis of Disease. 2016;1862(3):442-451. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26499397
  4. Flanagan M. The Role of the Craniocervical Junction in Craniospinal Hydrodynamics and Neurodegenerative Conditions. Neurology Research International. 2015;2015:1-20. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/nri/2015/794829/
  5. Rochester RP. Neck pain and disability outcomes following chiropractic upper cervical care: a retrospective case series. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2009 Aug; 53(3): 173–185. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732255/

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