As we all work hard to get back to “normal” after Hurricane Irma, many of us will find we now have to deal with the aftereffects of the storm. I’m not talking about trees being down or house damage, although all of that adds to our after storm stress. I’m talking about the stress we’ve all been under in dealing with such a large storm. We had a week of news about how frightening this storm was going to be. Those who evacuated had stressors to deal with that were part of the evacuation, such as long drives in the car with their animals and family. Those who stayed had to deal with the stress of the storm itself, the scary sounds of the storm outside their windows, their animal’s and family’s responses to the storm. And now all of us must deal with the stress of trying to get our lives back together.
Stress is your brain’s reaction to a perceived threat. When you experience the elevated extreme threat of a storm such as Irma, your hypothalamus, a region located at the base of your brain near your neck, sets off an alarm system of hormones and nerve signals throughout the body. Two of the main hormones that get released are adrenaline and cortisol. These are both good hormones to have released in an immediate threat, but you don’t really want them constantly being released for a long time. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and raises blood sugar levels. Cortisol alters your immune system responses, suppresses the digestive system and the reproductive system. This alarm system also communicates with parts of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. And these hormones affect long-term memory and spatial navigation.
Another thing that happens during a life-threatening event is that all of your muscles in your body go into “fight or flight mode,” which means they tense up. This kind of severe stress can also cause the muscles to spasm and throw things off. And here in Southwest Florida, we just had close to three weeks of this response in our bodies!
No wonder so many people experience so many physical side effects after a natural disaster such as Irma. I want to talk for a moment about another, more subtle side effect you may be experiencing. I call it “brain fog,” and while it might not be as detrimental as some of the other side effects I’ve mentioned here, it is one that can linger for a long time, and so it’s best to get it corrected as soon as possible.
Have you ever felt like you just “aren’t yourself”? You search a little too hard for the word you want to say or can’t seem to remember what you did yesterday and life feels harder than it should.
We usually chalk that up to our brain letting us down, but often the problem is just below there. The upper neck. Let me explain.
The upper neck joints and muscles have a whole lot of a certain kind of receptors that send info to the part of the brain responsible for balance and coordination. This part then sends info to the part of the brain responsible for cognition (the ability to think clearly). If these receptors send improper messages to the brain it throws off the chain of events that follows and the timing is off. That can result in you just not being you. The receptors measure muscle tension and joint position. If muscles are contracted or stretched more than normal or the joints are misaligned the information sent is incorrect.
There are two main ways these receptors end up sending the wrong messages. Both revolve around stress.
Think about how you felt as you were preparing for Irma to make landfall, if you recall it was likely hard to think clearly, and your neck and shoulders felt tight. An upper neck misalignment can be caused by one (or a combination) of three types of stress. Physical, emotional, or chemical. Any sort of slip, fall, car accident etc. can cause one of the bones to slip out of its normal range of motion and get stuck, including carrying all those heavy tree limbs out to the curb. The same can happen with mental stress and toxins that are harmful to us. Once the bone(s) are out of position, the receptors get the wrong input, so they send out the wrong information.
A recent new patient commented during the consultation that she was suffering from short-term memory loss, had to search to the point of frustration for names, and just couldn’t seem to stay on track. After finding a sizeable misalignment of the top bone in her neck and correcting it, within a few days she noticed she was clearer headed, felt sharp, and felt more connected to everything in her world. We see this happen all the time with upper cervical corrections.
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.