The Upper Cervical Spine
The upper cervical spine is a very unique structure. The signals traveling to and from the brain travel through the hole at the bottom of the head called the foramen magnum, and through the atlas bone before the major nerves start branching to various areas of the body. These nerve signals carry vital information for the proper function of the body. The nerves that travel through the atlas need to be free of any interference that could alter or block signals from getting through clearly.
There are some key features of the upper cervical spine that make it the primary focus of Advanced Orthogonal chiropractors. The upper cervical spine is the main conduit in which the nerves from the brain to the entire body pass through, almost like the fuse box of the entire body. The upper cervical spine has direct contact with blood vessels that bring blood to and from the brain. The muscles of the upper neck are among the most sensitive in the entire body for controlling body orientation. This region is also the junction point for the flow of cerebral spinal fluid between the brain and the spinal cord.
Causes of an Atlas Misalignment
The craniocervical junction (the joint between the skull and the atlas) is much less stable than the rest of the spine due to smaller supporting ligaments and flatter bone structure. This design allows for greater movement of the head in every direction, but leaves that joint less stable and much more susceptible to injury or misalignment with falls, concussions, head injuries and accidents.
One of the leading causes of upper neck misalignment is the forceful nature of modern medical birthing. Hands on pulling of the doctor, forceps delivery, vacuum extraction and cesarean section surgery are among the main reasons for these early neck problems. These neck problems can go on undetected for years if children are not properly evaluated by an upper cervical doctor, and they can manifest as colic, trouble nursing and eating, and posture changes.
Effects of the Misalignment
If an individual has a misalignment of the upper cervical spine, the symptoms may vary greatly. Some people have subtle symptoms like slight posture changes, difficulty sleeping, or mild headaches. Others may have severe conditions develop over long periods of time such as migraines, seizures, and scoliosis. Even though symptoms vary person to person, there are consistent physiological changes that occur with the misalignment including:
- Direct nerve pressure causing altered nerve signals
- Spinal cord tension caused by supporting ligament structures
- Diminished blood flow through the vertebral artery
- Backed up blood flow from compression of the jugular and vertebral vein
- Turbulent flow of cerebral spinal fluid
- Imbalanced body to brain signals that alter posture control
- Your nerve system goes into a fight-or-flight state
- Connections between the muscles and the covering of the spinal cord causing pain
Each one of these individual or combined changes can produce a variety of problems with the function of the body. Often, these functional changes will be diagnosed and treated without defining the root cause of the problem. It is our firm belief that in order to make the most substantial change in your health, we must first trace the problem back to the root.
Correcting the Misalignment
Carefully evaluating and correcting a misalignment of the upper cervical spine can make profound changes in your health. If there is an imbalance of these structures, it can greatly impact the health and function of your body. When the misalignment is corrected, significant changes occur such as:
- Muscles relax
- Blood flow improves
- The body begins to heal
- The immune function improves
- Cognitive function improves
The goal of Pierce Clinic is to ensure that you have a careful and comprehensive evaluation of the upper cervical spine. Each doctor at the Pierce Clinic is held to a very high standard to assess and correct misalignments of the upper cervical spine through the Advanced Orthogonal procedure. This procedure offers a precise, gentle, safe, and long lasting option for restorative health care.