Friday, April 29, 2011

Questions About Upper Cervical Care?


adapted from: Frequently Asked Questions About Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care

By Dr. Brandon Harshe

Below are typical questions regarding Upper Cervical Care by new patients. If you find you have a question about Upper Cervical Care that is not addressed below, contact Dr. Harshe here (or myself and we) will be happy to answer it for you.

What is Upper Cervical Care?

Upper Cervical Care is a very specific technique in which a misalignment of one or both of the top two cervical vertebrae is reduced. These misalignments cause interference to nervous system communication between the brain and body. The specific direction of the misalignment is carefully analyzed so that restoring normal alignment of one of these two upper cervical bones will be as precise as possible. The specificity of Upper Cervical Care is what makes it so gentle. The top vertebra in your spine, the Atlas, is the only vertebra capable of freely moving and narrowing the opening in which the spinal cord travels through. Because of its relative instability compared to the other 23 vertebrae, the Atlas only requires a quick, gentle force to restore its proper position.

Is Upper Cervical Care painful?

No. As stated above, the specificity of the Upper Cervical analysis allows for a very gentle force to move the Atlas (C1) and/or Axis (C2) in a very specific direction. This allows the body to begin its return to its optimal spinal alignment and thus proper brain to body communication.

Will Upper Cervical Care make me sore?

Usually no. In some rare cases, people might experience more pain after an upper cervical correction simply because their spine is realigning, doing something it hasn’t done in a while, maybe ever. This is similar to exercising for the first time after being sedentary for years. In these cases, healing may take longer.

Is Upper Cervical Care a one time thing?

No. However, the goal of Upper Cervical Care is to have you holding your spinal alignment as long as possible. Depending on the person, this may be days, weeks, or months at a time. It is similar to getting in shape. You won’t achieve the level of fitness you desire after one workout, and the alignment in your spine won’t return to its optimal position after one office visit. It may change significantly, but in most cases, will take time to restore completely. Holding your alignment is what keeps the stress and tension off your spinal cord. This allows your body to function at its highest potential and heal itself optimally. We want you to only come in as often as your spine dictates to us, ie. if you are maintaining your correction on multiple visits in a row then we need to see you less.

Will Upper Cervical Care relieve my pain?

It depends. When the Atlas has become misaligned, it can cause endangering stress or tension on the spinal cord near the brain stem. This can result in any combination of symptoms; from conditions like low back pain and headaches to digestive issues and high blood pressure.

The goal of Upper Cervical Care is not to relieve your pain, but to open up the nervous system communication between the brain and the body so that your body can heal itself effectively. This happens by reducing head neck misalignment. This will not only reduce the stress and tension on the spinal cord, but may also balance the body by returning it to a more optimal alignment.

Often times when these things happen people experience an immediate reduction in their painful symptoms.

If you only practice Upper Cervical Care, does that mean you can’t help the back or other parts of the body?

No. Reducing the misalignment in the upper cervical spine allows the spine to reduce its compensations. If you think about the spine as three segments, it makes more sense. There is the skull, the Atlas (c1), and the rest of the spine from Axis (C2) down to the sacrum. Since the rest of the spine from C2 and below is connected by intervertebral discs and ligaments, it moves similar to a wave when head/neck misalignment is present. Think of it as if the spine has been wound up. This winding up involves vertebral compensations, stress and tension on the nervous system pathways, with often a resulting muscular and/or visceral disfunction.

By reducing head/neck misalignment, the spine is able to unwind, so to speak. As a result, the spinal compensations diminish, the nervous system can communicate optimally with the body, and overall bodily function improves.

In short, reducing interference at the level of Atlas affects the entire body, not simply the upper cervical spine.

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