Think of the color red. Now, look around and I bet you see more red than you noticed before. It is always that way, isn’t it? If you decide on a new car you want to buy, suddenly they seem to be everywhere, when previously they were rare. It isn’t magic, it is just our brains focusing on what we consider important at the time.
There are a number of neurological structures that can be damaged in a traumatic brain injury (car accident, hard fall, sports injury etc). A very important one is something called the Reticular Activating System. We will call it the RAS for short. The RAS is the reason you see red when you think of it, and your new BMW seems to show up everywhere. Its job is to filter out things that are unimportant, while at the same time, relaying the information the brain needs about the things we deem important. This incredibly important system goes unnoticed until it malfunctions. We live in an overstimulated, sensory attacking world, the RAS is how we filter it. The RAS takes in all the sensory information we receive through our ears, eyes, skin etc., and decides what is important and what is not.
Imagine if that system is malfunctioning. Your brain would be overwhelmed with a million different stimulants. That makes it very hard to focus, sleep is often disrupted, and fatigue can be present. Things like ADHD can begin to develop because you are overstimulated. Tight muscles and pain can also occur, because the body is in a constant fight or flight response. Even some psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and depression have been linked to the RAS. When the brain gets overloaded, it is very difficult for it to function properly.
The RAS is located in the brainstem, and takes input from sensory nerves all over the body. One reason it may continue to misfire following a head injury is an upper neck misalignment. The brain stem extends down into the second bone in the neck. If this area is also injured, (which is extremely common in a trauma that causes a brain injury) it can place pressure on the brainstem and spinal cord, and distort the information the RAS receives. Bad input equals bad output.
The two big questions are; what does this all mean if you have suffered an injury and continue to struggle; and what can be done about it?
First of all, if you have had a brain injury, and continue to have issues even years later, this system malfunction could be the culprit. It causes things like poor concentration, anxiety, difficulties dealing with social situations, unexplained pain, or any number of issues you did not deal with prior to the injury.
The good news is there is great potential for improvement if an upper cervical misalignment is the source. If one (or both) of those bones were misaligned, it is very hard for the body to correct them on its own. Over time as they put pressure on the nerves, and the damage becomes greater and greater. This is why a majority will notice symptoms worsening over time.
Once corrected the nerves are able to heal and begin to correctly transmit information to the RAS, and in turn the RAS can send the proper information to the brain. At that point, the body is able to achieve a proper balance again, and the sensory overload no longer exists. This allows the brain to start functioning normally, and we tend to see symptoms like mental clarity and quality of sleep improve quickly, with other functional improvement following.
Having your upper cervical spine evaluated after a head injury is an important and necessary step in the recovery process whether the injury was recent or years ago.
Tinnitus is one of the most misunderstood and most difficult conditions to correct. Current medical science has little to offer on what causes tinnitus, and even less to offer in forms of successful treatment. While we do not have a magic bullet for tinnitus, in the following blog we will attempt to shed some light on what some of the literature is saying about its origin. We will then introduce a little-known procedure that may help end your nightmare.
Tinnitus is defined as a ringing, roaring, or whining in the ear that may be either constant or transient. Some patients find that tinnitus is made worse by stress, however, many find no real correlation to what makes it ebb and flow. Tinnitus is also very common with,vertigo, TMJ, and cognitive fog.
What Does The Research Say?
There are several peers reviewed studies in the literature that implicate the tensor tympani and stapedius muscles involvement. Hypertonicity of these muscles can cause tension on the insertion of the muscle that connects to a piece of cartilage in the inner ear. This increase in tension creates stress that then alters sensory input to the nerve system. Another article suggests that clonus (tightening of the muscle) is responsible for the clicking sensation that some tinnitus sufferers experience.
There is no known medical treatment that is effective for tinnitus sufferers. With that said, many patients report that anti-anxiety medication, wine, and other outside influences decrease or temporarily eliminate tinnitus symptoms. It appears that when there is the normal tone in these two muscles, there is normal neurological input into the central nervous system (CNS). However, when these muscles become spastic it sends an aberrant signal into the CNS causing the replication of tinnitus symptoms. If anti-anxiety medication and other muscle relaxers help temporarily by reducing spasms in these muscles, what can one do to remove one of the underlying causes of their tinnitus?
Upper Cervical Care and Tinnitus:While Upper Cervical Care does not correct Tinnitus in 100% of the patients, approximately 30 percent of those that come to us have 90%improvement. Another 40 % improve about 50%—70% while the other 20% seem to be unchanged. We wish there was a 100% success rate, but with that said, the patients who are relieved of their constant noise are grateful.
Many tinnitus sufferers notice that their onset of tinnitus happens following a neck injury. The onset can be explained by muscle, ligament and soft tissue injury to the neck. When someone experiences whiplash they lose normal joint biomechanics. This loss of motion sends aberrant neurological input into the CNS which can underlie chronic hypertonicity of the stapedius and tensor tympani muscles. Remove the interference and health returns!
The Objective Of Upper Cervical
The objective of Upper Cervical Chiropractic is to correct vertebral subluxation in the upper neck. When subluxations are corrected this allows the body’s own inherent healing potential to increase. Upper Cervical Chiropractors run a series of objective tests to determine if a patient is suffering from vertebral subluxation. If this condition is found, then precise articular (joint) x-rays are taken to view the direction of the spinal misalignment. The precise x-ray also allows the doctor to measure the joints angulation. Each person is built differently and misalignments are unique to each individual. After a spinal correction is made normal nerve function is restored and the body will return to the best health possible.
Reprinted with permission from Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic, blairchiropractic.com
If you or someone you know could benefit from a consultation on a Tinnitus issue please call our Fort Myers office at 239-243-8810 or click the free consultation button below to schedule an appointment.
When I was young (up through high school) I was an extremely outgoing person. A little loud, always joking and enjoyed “holding court” with friends and family. Somewhere in my 20s I realized that person was gone. In his place was a guy who kept his head down, made fake phone calls in public to avoid speaking to someone I knew in person, and rarely joked around. Even more rare was to catch me smiling. I thought that was just the person I had grown into. As time went on I felt less and less myself, and I suddenly started to have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) habits which were gaining steam daily.
Health, especially when discussed in terms of chiropractic, usually revolves around physical ailments and conditions. But your overall health can mean a number of things including your mental health. We know that past traumas, stress, and mental issues can generate actual physical pain. Stress has been labeled the “silent killer,” and it is a mental issue that causes physical issues. Did you know the inverse is true? A physical or structural problem can lead to mental distress and conditions. This is a fact that most people never think of. But let’s look at it more closely.
The brain needs several things to function properly.
If any of these are disturbed, the brain begins to function improperly. This can lead to depression, racing thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, and a number of mental health issues. You see, the signals from your brain, and from your body need to be able to flow back and forth unimpeded, and when they don’t, you experience both physical problems and it can also cause mental health issues as well.
The most common cause for this disruption is the rotation of the top bone in the neck (the atlas) from its normal position. This can pinch the vertebral arteries that carry blood to the brain and lessen the flow. Decreased blood flow to any part of the body can have an affect on that part’s ability to do its job properly.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is made in the brain, and then drains down the spinal cord. This same rotation of Atlas can block some of drainage pathways and cause a build-up of CSF in the brain. Just like blocked tributaries can cause a river to flood, too much fluid builds up and compresses the brain. This can lead to poor nerve communication with the rest of the body, and even nerve communication within the brain.
Part of brain development and function is determined by the spine sending information about what position we are in and where we are in space. If the Atlas is rotated, the brain gets bad information. “Garbage in garbage out” applies here. Making decisions on bad information usually leads us to the wrong place. This can cause a lot of anxiety, depression and OCD.
Remember I told you at the beginning in my 20s I started to hide away and no longer felt like myself? Like most people I tried a variety of medications that either had no impact on my mental health, or turned me into a zombie…..a zombie that still struggled with all the same issues.
I finally found my way to an upper cervical chiropractor. He showed me my Atlas was out of place, corrected it, and before long I realized I was actually smiling. I enjoyed being around other people, I could go to sleep at night without my brain making up worst case scenarios etc., and my OCD disappeared. It turned out, I had had an accident as a kid, and over the years the pressure from the bone being out of place had added up and led to my mental health issues.
I have seen this with countless patients over the years. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts, get your upper neck checked to see if a structural issue is causing your brain to malfunction a bit.
I can tell you from personal experience IT IS WORTH IT.
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.