Upper Neck Injury | Chronic Pain And Health Problems | Neck Trauma And Neurodegenerative Pain and Disease
In 2015 Neurology Research International published a 20 page article written by Mike Flannagan D.C. discussing the relationship of the upper neck and its role in overall health and human physiology. It has long been known the upper neck and its working parts, brain-stem, spinal nerves, arteries, joints, and soft tissue are of great significance in overall body function. Dr. Flanagan puts together a 20 page rigorous article with over 258 pub med reviewed articles to back up his statements.
The neck head junction, from here on referred to as cranio-cervical junction (CCJ), is the most important anatomical and physiological region of the body. The CCJ is critical as it is the seat of control of all autonomic function including blood pressure regulation, heart function, respiratory centers, muscle tone regulation, thermo regulation and more. Health is the result of normal function. Since the CCJ controls most function in the body its role in your health is paramount. In this article we would like to discuss the CCJ’s role in health and disease.
What is the Role Of The Upper Cervical Spine In Neuro-Degenerative Disease and Pain?
In Dr. Flanagan’s Research Paper he refers to the upper cervical spine as a “choke” point for CSF, Blood, and nerve flow. When you understand the anatomy of this region it becomes clear why he gave it this name “Choke Point”(fig 1) The bottom of the skull has a hole called the foramen magnum. The brain stem, the seat of control of most body function, passes
down through this hole. The skull rests on the c-1 . Atlas(c-1) and Axis(c-2) support the weight of the head and house the brain-stem. The spinal cord is covered by a sheath known as the dura mater. Also brain blood flow is supplied by two arteries that travel up through the cervical verteba and then up though the foramen magnum. Almost all cranial nerve nuclei’s are centered in the brain-stem. Because of the confluence of all these factors the Craniocervical Junction’s(head – neck) effect on overall body function and health is unprecedented anywhere else in the body.
We have established the importance that the CCJ has in overall body function. There are over 100 years of evidence that clearly demonstrates the upper cervical spine being the Pentium Chip of human function. Next we would like to delve into the effects of trauma on the CCJ. Whiplash , concussions, sports injuries, and other accidents can cause structural damage to the CCJ. Evidence is beginning to pile up implicating trauma and CCJ misalignment being a cause for chronic disease processes.(1,2,3,4,5) Flanagan along with other Doctors that specialize in Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care believe that CCJ brain-stem interference plays a causative role in Meniere’s Disease, Vertigo, Migraine Headaches, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, other disease processes and pain syndromes.
How Does Injury Affect The Upper Cervical Spine?
Throughout life most of us suffer through various traumas. Because of the precarious nature of the head neck relationship, trauma can cause structural injuries to the CCJ. Whiplash, sports injuries and other trauma can damage the soft tissue, ligaments and muscles that govern normal bio-mechanics of the CCJ. When injury occurs , soft tissue swells, muscle spasm, joints misalign and the dynamics of this very important junction are impaired. If the structural faults are not corrected the body heals up in a misaligned state. The overall impact of this area being “choked off” has far-reaching health implications for the body. Even though the body is a wondrous adaptive organism, any injury to the CCJ can have long-term severe implications to one’s health.
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Atlas (c-1)and axis (c-2) misalignments causes structural deformation to the brain-stem and affects CSF, arterial, and nerve flow to the body.(6) There are many theories that exists as to what is happening at a neurological level and the mechanism creating cord interference.
Two Mechanisms-Upper Cervical Spine Instability and Nervous System Interference
Several theories exist explaining how an upper neck injury can cause neurological problems throughout the body. We have linked in articles that explain what each of these are and how they can cause abnormal nervous system function.
1. Dentate Cord Hypothesis
2. Trauma induced chiarri and tethering of spinal cord
What Does An Upper Cervical Chiropractor Do? | Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care is a niche technique within the chiropractic profession. It focuses ALL of its attention in the upper neck. Injuries to the neck cause misalignments to the vertebra and damage to the ligaments and soft tissue. Upper Cervical Doctors are trained to locate these misalignments and precisely correct them. There is no pulling , twisting, or cracking of the neck. It is painless precise and effective. Once corrected the goal of the upper cervical doctor is to monitor the patient over time to ensure healing occurs. When the spinal segment locks again a correction is made. When the patient is “holding ” the correction nothing is done. The goal is stabilization.
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1.Elster E. Eighty-one patients with multiple sclerosis & Parkinsons disease undergoing chiropractic care. J Vertebral Subluxation Res. 2 Aug 2004
2.Eriksen K. Upper cervical subluxation complex: a review of the chiropractic andmedical literature. Baltimore, MD. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins. 2004.
3.Damadian R and Chu D. The possible role of cranio-cervical trauma and abnormal CSF hydrodynamics in the genesis of multiple sclerosis. Physiol Chem and Physics and Medical NMR. 20 Sept 2011;41:1-17. http://www.fonar.com/pdf/PCP41_damadian.pdf.