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Questions About Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care? 

 May 28, 2011

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

 

Mechanicsville, Virginia – Here is some great Q & A about upper cervical chiropractic care.  It comes from the Upper Cervical Blog.  I’ve copied, pasted, combined, and adapted two posts that answer questions and give insightful answers.  The two posts are by: Dr. Brandon Harshe, and Dr. William R. Davis Jr.

Why is the upper cervical area (upper neck) so important to health and well-being?

This is essentially the epicenter of your body. The most important area for communication from your brain to your body. Complete loss of that communication can be devastating . Do you remember Christopher Reeve? Superman had a severe injury to his upper cervical spine which resulted in a 100% loss of function from that area. When you have a upper cervical misalignment you are not losing 100% of the function but you may be losing 30%, 50% or more of the function of your body.

What is Upper Cervical Care?


Says Dr. Davis:

A unique health care solution that focuses on correcting an underlying source of interference to proper body function. Accidents and injuries can tear loose the connective tissue that holds the spine in place. This can create a weakness and allow the spine to breakdown and lock into a stressed position. This most frequently starts in the upper neck since it is the most vulnerable to injury and this leads to, in the standing position, one of the hips often can be higher than the other, laying down one of the legs often can be shorter than the other. The head could tilt to one side. And it can be progressive …so that the longer the spine is locked in this position, the more wear and tear can happen.

And by Dr. Harche:

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.

What makes Upper Cervical Care unique compared to other care?

There are many forms of spinal health care today. Many focus on addressing local joint motion by administering a short, quick thrust to a localized area. Upper Cervical Doctors influence the entire spinal columns postural balance by returning the heavy head to a more balanced position on top of the narrow neck. Without any popping, cracking or twisting of the spine. It is a gentle, accurate and precise procedure for correcting the spine. With upper cervical care it is not about adjusting someone thousands of times…it is about holding the correction. Staying in alignment is how a person expresses the potential for health.

Who can benefit from Upper Cervical Care?

Any adult or child who wants their body to function at a higher level. Especially those who have experienced head or neck trauma. Not all individuals are misaligned however. Many children and some adults have been assessed in our office who were found to be in alignment and no care was necessary.

How can such a light pressure make such dramatic changes?

For the same reason why one is able to move a pile of heavy bricks with a light push of a wheelbarrow: leverage. Using the first vertebra and the weight of the head to gain a biomechanical advantage, the doctor places their own body on a calculated angle to ensure the correction is specific to the patient’s individual misalignment. The force generated by the doctor is transferred to the patient in such a gentle and precise fashion that many patients are surprised by the light feel. Although the procedure is subtle in it’s application the results often are not! Our patients typically experience fast changes and long lasting results!

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 analysisallows 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.

At Stover Chiropractic, P.C. I practice orthospinology (otherwise known as Grostic) style of upper cervical chiropractic.  If you have questions, please give us a call (804-559-1100) or explore the website.


Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.


Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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