Head & Neck 101
A Complex Problem
The weakest region of the human spine is where the head meets the neck!
This is because 80% of our head movement occurs between the first two bones beneath the skull.
An injury will buckle this region in complex ways which will stretch the nerves, ligaments, and muscles that maintain normal posture and alignment.
The result is what you see here where the head, neck, and top vertebra (atlas) have shifted sideways from their normal position.
This causes stress and altered nerve flow to and from the brain and creates posture distortion and imbalance as the entire spine shifts off-center. see “How Did I Get This Way?”.
A Gentle, Long-term Solution
Utilizing a very precise system of analysis developed by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA), which is based on math and physics, doctors are able to calculate the precise pathway to gently re-balance the head over the neck (represented by the correction arrow when you click on the animation).
The NUCCA correction is extremely gentle. The only thing one feels is the weight of the doctor’s hand behind their ear.
There is NO twisting, popping, or clicking of the neck.
When the upper cervical misalignment is analyzed and corrected, one can expect to see the entire spine begin to normalize as the entire body is brought back into balance.
This is why people with knee, hip, and low back problems respond well to NUCCA.
A Lasting Difference
Although the upper cervical misalignment is the most complex region of the spine to align, when correction is achieved the results are simply amazing.
How Did I Get This Way?
As you can see, injury also TWISTS the upper neck adding to the complexity of the misalignment compounding stress on the brainstem.
The misalignment you see is the result of one or more past injuries.
Injuries can often be traced all the way back to childhood: A tumble down the stairs, the fall off the bike. Or perhaps it was a sports injury or a car crash. Think back and you’ll probably come up with a few possibilities of your own.
Regardless of the cause, 95% of people are left with neck misalignment and posture distortion by the time they reach adulthood. See “How Does This Affect My Health”.
The Nervous System is "Grand Central"
The lower area of the brain is called the brainstem because it descends down into the upper neck. Every nerve that travels down the spinal cord has to pass through the fragile donut shaped vertebra (Atlas) that wraps around the brainstem!
For this reason, the upper neck is our neurological “Grand Central Station”.
Posture And Body Balance
The brainstem controls posture and balance.
When the upper neck misaligns, the muscles alongside the neck (and rest of the spine) pull unevenly and shift the entire body off-center.
(See “The Bigger Picture” to learn how stress on these posture control centers affect the entire body.
Blood Pressure, Respiration, and Heart Rate
The neurological centers controlling these body functions are located in the brain stem and can be compromised upon an upper neck misalignment.
Recent research has proven the NUCCA correction helps people with high blood pressure.
(Google “NUCCA” and “blood pressure” to view the results of this research.
Sleep / Mood / Hormone Balance
Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain stem.
Serotonin influences various functions, including regulation of mood, sleep, appetite, muscle contraction, and cognitive functions including memory and learning.
An upper cervical injury will cause stress to the brain stem and can have a dramatic effect on energy levels and an overall sense of “aliveness”.
This is why those that suffer from Anxiety, Depression, Fibromyalgia, and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) respond extremely well to NUCCA.
The Nervous System controls all of the body functions we don’t have to think about.
The Sympathetic Nervous System is the part of our Nervous System that becomes more active during times of stress and is often called the “fight-or-flight” response.
An upper cervical injury will cause long-term activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System which is proven to suppress the body’s Immune System.
The Vagus nerve is very influential in regulating digestion and bowel movements.
This important nerve is often affected by an upper cervical misalignment because it passes just next to the atlas vertebra as it comes down from the brain.
Head and Facial Problems
Cranial Nerve dysfunction can result in problems such as Trigeminal Neuralgia, Bells Palsy, Meniere’s Disease, Sinus Problems, Headaches, Ear Pressure, Dizziness, etc.
Patients with these problems often respond to the NUCCA correction since cranial nerves are directly affected by an upper cervical misalignment.
Recent research is beginning to show how an upper cervical misalignment impedes cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) flow and blood flow in and out of the brain.
The Bigger Picture
Injury to the head and neck has a global effect on the body.
When the head and neck are injured, the entire body will compensate and move into a distorted posture.
- Head & Neck Injury →
- Upper Neck Structural Misalignment →
- Suboccipital Muscles Stretch →
- Spinal Posture Muscles Tighten to Compensate →
- Postural Lean →
- Chronic Muscle Imbalances
- Spinal Degeneration
Body imbalance has a negative long-term effect on spinal discs.
When the body’s weight is not distributed evenly across the discs, degenerative disc disease, herniation, and even spinal stenosis can result.
Just as driving your car out of alignment causes premature tire wear, long-term spinal misalignment causes your spine to age quicker and degenerate.
The difference between a 75-year-old on the golf course and a 75-year-old pushing a walker is usually found in their spine.
Notice the short leg, uneven hips, high shoulder, and head tilt.
Look closely at your family and friends as they face you and you may be able to tell if they should be referred for an assessment.
Click the animation to see how a small strategic touch just under your ear restores balance and alignment to the entire spine!
How Does This Affect My Health?
The brain controls and regulates every function of the body, most of which we don’t consciously think about.
Injury and damage to the spine will interrupt the flow of energy to and from the brain.
Misalignment of the spine can cause direct pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
Depending on which spinal nerve is compromised, certain body parts won’t function normally.
For example, if the nerve that supplies the heart is stressed, problems such as anxiety, heart palpitations, and even poor breathing can occur.
Is Your Spine Older Than You?
The human body is designed to live to be over 100 years old!
Unfortunately, a majority of people are robbed of their golden years by a spine that ages prematurely.
Honestly, most people understand more about taking care of their teeth than their spine.
The progression of spinal degeneration is explained below.
Phase I: 5-15 Years of Adaptation
Uncorrected spinal trauma results in loss of normal curve, disc narrowing, and subtle spine and nerve malfunction. Because the body is so adaptable, this early phase can exist without the warning of pain or other symptoms. If left uncorrected, the degeneration continues.
Common symptoms of Phase I Degeneration include:
- Neck Pain
- Strained Muscles
- Shoulder Tension
Phase II: 15-30 Years of Adaptation
Recognized on x-ray by visible bone spurs and rough edges of the vertebrae. Abnormal bony growths distort the shape and function of the vertebrae and cause stress to discs, joints, and ligaments. Breakdown of these soft tissues results in lack of normal joint movement, inflammation, and interference to nerve flow.
Common symptoms of Phase II Degeneration include:
- Disc Disease
- Degenerated Joints
- Joint Pain
Phase III: 30+ Years of Adaptation
A lifetime of neglect may cause the eventual fusion of the malfunctioning joints. Atrophy, permanent nerve damage, and soft tissue degeneration are prevalent. Reduced mobility and impaired nervous system function diminish one’s quality of life.
Common symptoms of Phase III Degeneration include:
- Chronic Pain
- Irreversible Damage
- Spine Disease (stenosis)
- Relief Care Only
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