Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Highlight of Practicing Upper Cervical Care


Earlier today I had the pleasure of checking a cute little bundle, a baby not quite two weeks old. The parents are firm supporters of upper cervical care and several weeks before the birth had asked me if I would be willing to check their baby once she was born. "Of course!", I said "It would be an honor."

Background -

The upper cervical spine is crucial because as Dr Gott. MD notes, "The head weighs between eight and 14 pounds. It must remain in perfect alignment in order to prevent interference in every brain-to-body function. Misalignment can result from automobile accidents, poor posture, falls and countless other causes. When the head becomes misaligned, it reacts adversely with pain and poor health. This is where upper-cervical chiropractic intervention comes into play. There is no forceful twisting or pulling of the neck. Muscles relax, blood circulation increases, and healing begins." The only thing I would add as a potential cause would be trauma during the birth process. It is also understood that the 8 to 14 pounds refers to adults and newborns/children have much lighter heads. However a newborn's/infant's ratio of head weight to body weight is much greater (heavier heads relative to body weight) and when you take that into consideration along with the diminished control of the head and neck in a newborn/infant it makes this area even more clinically significant.

History -

The mother had some minor issues near the end of pregnancy but birth went smoothly. The baby's presentation was normal and the baby was born vaginally. They opted for a hospital birth and there was no induction of labor or forceful pulling or twisting of the baby's head and neck during the birth. The baby came out fairly quickly with the last push bringing the head and the rest of baby with it. Some normal cone shape to the skull was present at birth which quickly molded to normal over the next 24 hours. Slight bruising to the back left portion of the skull from perhaps pushing against the pubic bone prior to birth. From the mother and father's perspective there was no indication of any trauma during or immediately following the birth. The baby is breastfed and the parents noted that she moves her head with a fair amount of control for her age. Other than a bit of issue from time to time staying latched on when feeding she appears to have no problems.

Analysis -

Upon checking the baby, head was very symetrical and bruising on back of head had healed. Baby was alert and content with no obvious signs of discomfort. Muscle tone in neck was good bilaterally and no sensitivity or irritation from analyzing the area was noted. Bilateral measurements of temperature in the atlas fossa (divet just behind ear lobe) were within an acceptable range and general muscle tone throughout the remainder of the spine was good and symetrical even when the upper cervical spine was stressed. Reversed Fencer's was performed and no abonormality was detected.

Outcome -

Based on the history and the analysis, x-rays were not indicated and no upper cervical correction was needed at this time.

Conclusion -

This provides additional evidence that the nature and progression of the birth process appears to play a significant role in the initial stability of the upper cervical spine. It has been observed that when there is abnormal baby presentation (breech, brow breech, footling) and/or more invasive methods (c-section, forceps, vacuum extraction, or forceful pulling or twisting of the head by hand) are utilized to birth the baby there is a significantly greater possibility of trauma to the upper cervical spine. More research in this area is warranted because not only do we, as upper cervical doctors, make corrections to this region but also those things that prevent them from occuring, especially during the birth process, could drastically reduce the need for care over the course of one's life time.

Remember it is holding/not needing a correction that gets and keeps people well, not correcting them.

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