So what if my upper neck isn’t in perfect alignment, does it really matter? That is a fairly common question, and I will admit one I asked myself as a new patient many years ago. The simple answer is YES. A great big huge yes. Our anatomy and physiology 100% say yes. There are three main reasons that are all intertwined, but let’s break them down.
The top bone in your spine, called the atlas, is the base for your skull. You know, the thing that protects your brain. Imagine you are holding a bowling ball on top of a broom stick. As long as the ball is centered right on top, it won’t be too bad, but if that ball gets a little off-center, it is going to feel much heavier quickly. The same goes with the head. If the top bone gets off center it takes the head with it and suddenly the rest of your spine and back muscles get put under a much heavier load. Think tight neck, upper/lower back, even sciatica.
If the head is off center, we call that head tilt. That tilt can throw off some of your internal centers relating to where you are in space. That can lead to vertigo, dizzyness, and a general lightheadedness.
Your spinal cord/lower brainstem pass through the axis. If I told you you had pressure on your brain would you be alarmed? If your upper neck is misaligned, it is quite possible you have pressure on your brainstem. The brain doesn’t have pain receptors, so you won’t feel pain but the pressure can exhibit itself other ways.
Here are a few of the functions controlled by the spinal cord/brainstem:
Seems pretty important…..pressure on the brainstem is NEVER good for ANYONE at any point. I feel like I could stop right here and skip reason three but I promised you three.
Blood flow! Our brains need proper blood flow right? If an area of the body doesn’t get enough blood flow, it simply won’t function as well. When the upper neck is misaligned in certain patterns, the vertebral arteries can be compressed and limit blood flow to the brain. The main arteries that deliver blood to the brain pass through the upper neck, then enter the skull. Upright MRI studies have proven over and over that a rotation of the top bone in the neck can partially block blood flow to the brain. This lack of blood flow can affect the brain’s ability to function at 100% capacity.
Add it all up and it seems like a pretty solid case to have your upper cervical spine checked. Hopefully you don’t have an issue, but it needs to be ruled out. As chiropractors like to say “from the cradle to the grave”, everyone can benefit from having a properly aligned spine, a brainstem free of interference, and proper blood flow to the brain. Come in to Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers for your free consultation today.
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.