I often find common themes among patients and conditions. A body that is malfunctioning may have varied primary complaints, (the one that brought them to the office) but the secondary issues are often similar. One of the most common is menstrual issues, which include irregularity, severe cramping (well above average), Endometriosis, hormonal migraines, or other associated issues.
Very often young ladies are brought in, and are already on birth control pills because their cycles are such a problem. I see a fair amount of women who have had miscarriages or infertility issues as well. Regardless of what we call it, the fact remains it is a body not working properly. A menstrual cycle is natural, and if the body is working correctly, it should be a mild inconvenience, a few days a month. I often see it being a major life alteration for a week or even more.
Our bodies are always in a constant balancing act—maintaining proper blood pressure, hormone levels, neurotransmitters, and a million enzymes etc. This balancing act is the job of the autonomic nervous system. Autonomic simply means the things in our body that are done automatically, and we don’t even think about them. You have to think about moving your arm, but not about secreting thyroid hormones. This system has two halves, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic is known as fight or flight, and the parasympathetic is known as the rest or digest. What they amount to are our gas and brake pedals. If we need more of things, the gas kicks in, if we need less, the brakes are put on. These systems also determine how much blood is delivered to different areas, and the precise hormone balance we need to be at our best. If that balance is disturbed, we run into trouble. In the case of menstrual issues, a whole cascade of events can occur.
In the course of a woman’s monthly cycle there are a number of hormones at play. The cycle starts when the hypothalamus (in the brain) sends a signal to the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Then estrogen levels rise, triggering the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH). Later on, if you aren’t pregnant, estrogen and progesterone decrease, which causes your period to start, and the uterine lining to shed. There are more hormones and more details, but I think the picture should be clear. It is a delicate balance of hormones and timing, involving multiple areas of the brain, and a number of different hormones. If this balance is off just a little, things will begin to go wrong. The timing and area of trouble will largely determine what types of symptoms you deal with.
The hypothalamus regulates the autonomic nervous system (our gas and brake pedals). The hypothalamus is dependent on the brainstem for input, so it knows what decisions to make. The brainstem is the tail end of the brain, and rests partly in our skull, and then drops down into the top two bones in the neck. If the brainstem malfunctions, the hypothalamus gets bad information. As I like to say to patients “garbage in, garbage out.”
One of the most common causes of brainstem malfunction is a misalignment of one of those top bones in the upper cervical neck. Maybe it was a car accident, a slip, a fall, even a birth trauma that misaligned them, but once they get stuck out of place, the body struggles to unstick them. Once misaligned, two major things can occur. The nerves of the brainstem get irritated, and the brainstem can be robbed of proper blood flow. Either of these (and usually it is both) can cause it to not function properly.
I know this was a little technical at times, so let me draw a line so to speak. The upper neck gets misaligned, the brainstem is compromised, it begins to send bad information, and the bad information travels to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus now sends out bad information, and our autonomic nervous system gets out of balance. Poor balance of hormones disrupts the critical timing and levels necessary to have a proper menstrual cycle.
I can’t even count the number of female patients that began care struggling with their periods, and pretty quickly saw tremendous improvement. We get the pressure off the brainstem, allowing their body to function properly, and a functioning body is a healthy body, which means their menstruation cycle stops being as big an issue.
Is your menstruation cycle interrupting your life? We offer a free evaluation to determine if your upper cervical spine is in the proper shape and working correctly. Call us at Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers for your free consultation today, 239-243-8810!
My new patient paperwork has a few questions about feeling rested and quality of sleep. More often than not, patients state that they are fatigued most of the time, struggle to sleep or some combination of the two. Some say they sleep all night, (often 8-10 hours) and still feel exhausted when they wake up. Sleeping for that long should have them waking up feeling great….right?
Turns out just having your eyes closed and not being alert doesn’t equal great sleep. Regardless of how long you are in that state. As I have written about a number of times, our body essentially has a gas pedal and a brake pedal. The sympathetic nervous system is the gas and the parasympathetic is the brake. These two make up our autonomic nervous system (autonomic as in automatic). That’s all the countless things our bodies do that we don’t think about. It includes heart-beat, digestion, and in this case hormone production, release, and restoration.
When you are up during the day, your gas pedal should be dominant so you can get things done, be alert, make decisions etc. When you go to bed, the brake needs to be applied. If you constantly held the gas pedal down on your car for a month without letting up, what sort of shape would your engine be in? I’m not a car guy (at all), but I’m pretty sure it would be a mess.
The same goes for your body. Without the brakes being applied allowing you to rest, you are in big trouble. Fatigue, irritability, difficulty getting through the day, higher blood pressure, and a host of other things can occur.
Let’s go back to our car analogy for a minute. Do you put gas, oil, wiper fluid etc. in your car while driving? I hope not. You do this when you stop. Your body also doesn’t replenish when you are moving. It waits until you are sleeping to replenish hormones, repair cells, and all the functions it performs to make you feel rested, and take on the day.
The most common reason I see that the gas pedal is always down, is a misalignment in the upper neck. The tissues compress the brainstem and spinal cord, which serves to stimulate them. Since they partially make up, and largely control, the autonomic nervous system, it now begins to malfunction. The constant stimulation causes your body to always be in fight or flight mode, and then comes the chronic fatigue that you can’t seem to overcome no matter how much you rest.
One of the most common comments I hear from patients following a first adjustment, is how that night they had the best sleep they could remember. They woke up the next day feeling refreshed and alive.
Waking up feeling exhausted? We offer a free evaluation to determine if your upper cervical spine is in the proper shape and working correctly. Call us at Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers for your free consultation today, 239-243-8810!
Concussions have become the biggest concern in contact sports, and for good reason. A brain injury can be life-altering in a split second. One of the biggest decisions that needs to be made in concussion treatment is when to release an athlete and send them back to the field of play.
There are a number of factors that go into making this decision. Balance testing, eye movement, ability to process information etc. These are all largely subjective, and it can be a little difficult to feel fully confident that you are making the right decision.
The easiest way to get around this is baseline concussion testing. These tests are performed before the season begins, when the athlete is rested and healthy. Memory, balance, processing, and other brain functions are tested and assigned a score. This makes a post injury comparison very easy.
Ideally, within a day after an incident the athlete should be retested. This gives insight into how serious the brain injury is, and to what level the brain is compromised. In more severe cases, sending a kid back to school too quickly can be detrimental. Overtaxing an injured brain can cause a flare up in symptoms.
The next big step is deciding when to release the athlete back to practice and games. After an initial concussion, the chances of a second concussion go up exponentially. This happens for two reasons if the brain isn’t fully healed. First, if reflexes and processing hasn’t fully returned, the chances of taking a hit or having a collision go up. Second, chemically it takes a while for the brain to return to balance. If this process hasn’t been completed, the brain is unable to handle a second blow and is much more easily injured.
If a baseline test has been performed, this decision becomes much easier. If the athlete scores in the same range on the post injury test as the baseline, then a confident decision to release them to play can be made.
The testing is easy and takes about 15 minutes on an Ipad. The scores are then saved on a secure server that can be immediately accessed and used for comparison.
We offer these tests in our office. We are also available for larger-scale testing for schools, and sports leagues Call us at 239-248-8810 for more information on in office or on site testing.
There are endless blogs written on various conditions, symptoms, and lost health due to upper cervical misalignments. While they are all true and necessary, sometimes the overall diminishing health potential gets lost in the verbiage. I want to focus on one of the most impactful potential results of a misalignment of the top bone in the neck. Restriction of blood flow through the vertebral arteries.
Decreased blood flow to the brain can lead to a number of issues. Things like brain fog, balance disorders, depression, and overall lower brain function.
There are two vertebral arteries that travel up the neck. One on each side. As they reach the 6th vertebrae from the top, they actually pass through a hole in the outside edge of the bones. This is pretty stable, until it reaches the top bone in the neck known as the atlas. The atlas is more freely moving than any other vertebrae, and this is what allows us so much range of motion with our head. The vertebrae pass through the atlas and then enter the skull.
In the case of neck trauma like falls, car crashes, and sports injuries the atlas can become misaligned, and it rotates. This rotation can cause one of the arteries to become closed off. Just like a water hose with a kink. This immediately causes a decrease in blood flow to the brain. The atlas gets stuck in this position and the body is normally unable to “unstick it” on its own. This is when chronic issues can begin to develop.
Chronic brain fog, vertigo, and even depression have all been linked to decreased blood flow. In my office we have seen tremendous improvements in these, and other related conditions by restoring the atlas to its proper motion. This allows proper blood flow to be restored, and the brain to begin to function normally again.
The type of misalignment we are looking for is not normally noticed in medical settings and radiology reports. Those professionals are great at what they do, but they aren’t trained to look for this condition. The misalignments are often small, but can cause dramatic effects. In our office we offer a free consultation and exam that features infrared thermography. This testing allows us to quickly and easily evaluate proper blood flow to the brain.
If you are struggling with chronic issues that haven’t been resolved, I urge you to let us check to see if it is a problem with your atlas. We offer a free consultation, give us a call!
Has it been this way too long? Is there too much arthritis? Do I have too much degeneration? I hear those questions frequently from new patients hoping for help, but fearing it is too late. Once you crumple a piece of paper you can never really get it smooth again, but it can still fulfill its purpose. The same is true with the spine. It may have some arthritis, degeneration, and permanent damage, but that doesn’t mean it can’t serve its purpose and serve it well.
Let’s look at the structure of the spine. With the exception of the top two bones in the neck, the rest of the spine has the same configuration. A block of bone, then an intervertebral disc, and another block of bone. Degeneration can happen two ways—bone spurs, which we generally refer to as arthritis and disc degeneration (thinning of the disc).
People tend to think that arthritis and disc degeneration is just a process of aging. The older you get, the more you will have, and that is just how it is goes. I have seen 30-year-olds with extreme degeneration, and 80-year-olds with little to none.
The reality is, degeneration is the result of poor mechanics. A vertebrae gets out of its normal range of motion, which causes undue stress on itself, the bones above and especially below, and the disc it sits on. This is when time and aging become a big factor. The longer the abnormal stress exists, the more degeneration we will see. The location of the misalignment also has a big impact. If one of the top two bones in the head get stuck out of position, not only do they stress the bones around them, they also cause the head to get off center. This pulls on the entire spine, and leads to degeneration anywhere in the spine.
The good news here is two fold—degeneration can be reversed to a degree, and a freely moving spine will automatically feel better than a misaligned one. I will use myself as an example. When I first became an upper cervical patient, I had such a bad misalignment of the top bone in my neck, that the curve in my neck was reversed. This led to severe degeneration at my 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. As a result I had intense burning in both of my hands anytime I tried to sleep.
Once my spine was corrected, and began to move properly, over time I watched the bone spurs (arthritis) shrink and some of the disc height restored. Thankfully the burning in my hands also disappeared quickly.
It is never too late to benefit from a properly aligned spine. I have yet to see a patient not benefit from better moving vertebrae. They may never get back to 100%, but the results can be extraordinary regardless. The best time to check a spine is day one of life, to make sure this end-result never occurs, but regardless of age there can be great benefit.
Just last week I had a wonderful 97-year-old young lady start care. On the follow-up visit after her first adjustment I asked her how she was doing. She said, “I can’t believe how much straighter I am standing and how much better my posture is after only a few days.”
It is never too late to improve and never time to lose hope. Come in to Upper Cervical Chiropractors of Fort Myers for a free consultation today! (239) 243-8810
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.