The Upper Neck Connection
The Body’s Silent Control System
Imagine waking up to your heart racing, breaking out in a cold sweat as a furnace burns inside you, feeling like the world is falling away from your feet as you stand. These are only a few of the sensations that people suffering from autonomic dysfunction may experience. Why this happens remains to be conclusively determined. Some postulate that there may be an autoimmune connection, others chalk it up to an inability of the body to handle stress. But in order to address why this occurs we must first look at where this dysfunction begins.
The autonomic nervous system is housed largely within a part of the central nervous system called the brainstem. The brainstem is found between the brain and the spinal cord, at the junction of the skull and upper spine. Any information coming to or from the brain passes through the brainstem. The brainstem controls several body functions, such as:
- heart rate
- breathing rate
Stress at the level of the brainstem may affect any one of these functions. The region between the skull and the upper spine is one of the most vulnerable areas for injury, which can lead to excess stress and alter the functioning of the brainstem.
Our Neck’s Weak Spot
The skull is balanced on the first vertebrae, called the atlas (C1). The atlas sits on top of the second vertebrae (C2), called the axis. Together these joints form what is known as the craniocervical junction and are the most mobile joints in the spine. This gives us the ability to move our head and neck with greater freedom of motion; however, this increased mobility creates an underlying fragility.
Accidents and injuries over a lifetime, in combination with the micro-stressors of everyday life, such as poor posture, can create misalignments of the joints in the upper neck. These misalignments can directly affect the functioning of the nervous system and lead to further dysfunction throughout the body.
The Effects of a Misaligned Upper Neck
Researchers are beginning to examine the effects of joint misalignments in the upper neck on cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) flow and blood flow. Altered dynamics of fluid flow between the head and neck can have drastic effects on neurological function.
Possible symptoms of unresolved upper cervical misalignments include:
- neck pain
- jaw pain
- brain fog
- digestive distress
- postural distortion
- sleep disturbances
Correcting the Upper Neck can Avoid Serious Long Term Problems
Correcting misalignments of the upper neck is important for reducing excess stress on the nervous system and restoring balanced function to the brain and body. The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) is dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of upper neck misalignments. The NUCCA technique is a highly specific, gentle procedure that enables chiropractors trained in this treatment to safely and effectively correct these spinal misalignments. Restoring proper joint biomechanics helps to reduce neurological stress and return the body to a more balanced state. To learn more about NUCCA and how it may help you please visit our About NUCCA page.
Is someone you know struggling with symptoms like these?
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Do you have questions?
Are these symptoms ringing true in your life? Not sure what to do next? Dr. Michelle Speranza would love to answer any questions you may have about dysautonomia or the upper neck region. Use the form below to send her a direct message.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Does this seem to fit your symptoms? Book a consultation to see if your posture is interfering with your ability to function.