What is upper cervical chiropractic?

Posted in Chiropractic on Aug 14, 2019

Can upper cervical adjustments be dangerous?

Many people who are new to chiropractic care have concerns aboutthe safety of adjustments, especially when it comes to the neckregion. Media reports occasionally highlight an injury or seriousadverse event following an adjustment and label chiropractic as“unsafe” or “unscientific.” A critical review of the scientificliterature will reveal that the risk of an adverse event followinga neck adjustment is extremely low, making chiropractic care verysafe and effective. 

Upper cervical chiropractors are a subset of the profession thatfocuses specifically on correcting spinal-related issues stemmingfrom the upper neck. These procedures are differentiated fromconventional chiropractic in a few ways, namely the attention todetail, precision, and minimal force used to correct the spine.Additionally, upper cervical adjustments by qualified uppercervical chiropractors do not twist, crack, or pop the spine –eliminating the risk of a more crude or generalizedmanipulation. 

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Where is the upper cervical spine?

The upper cervical spine is the topmost portion of the spinethat supports the weight of the skull and provides a wide range ofmotion. The upper cervical spine is also known as thecraniocervical junction and is made up of the occiput (base of theskull), atlas (first cervical segment), and axis (second cervicalsegment). 

The upper cervical spine is the most freely movable region ofthe spine and maintains its alignment and structural integritythrough a network of ligaments and soft connective tissues. Thismakes the upper cervical spine extremely mobile, yet prone todisplacement when forces such as motor vehicle collisions, sportsinjuries, whiplash, and falls overwhelm the ligament strength thatmaintains alignment.

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These displacements are prone to neurological irritation due tothe proximity of the upper cervical spine to sensitive nervestructures such as the brain stem, cervical spinal cord, greaterand lesser occipital nerves, and spinal meninges (membranes).Spinalfluid flow can be negatively impacted by abnormal alignment in theupper cervical spine as it travels into and out of the skull. 

What is an upper cervical chiropractor?

An upper cervical chiropractor is a Doctor of Chiropractic whoseunique focus in this area of the spine. In the same way that anorthodontist is a dentist with a specialized set of skills, uppercervical chiropractors are differentiated from conventionalchiropractic methods. Upper cervical chiropractors perform athorough evaluation to assess the alignment and mechanics of theupper cervical spine.

This often involves a battery of testing including imaging(digital x-rays, CBCT, MRI, etc.) to measure the direction andmagnitude of displacement that has occurred. Image-guided adjustingprocedures are then used to make a corrective adjustment designedto have the maximum benefit with a minimal amount of effort. Thereare a variety of methods used to achieve a correction, and eachupper cervical chiropractor will suit their approach to the needsof the patient, making upper cervical care trulypatient-centered.

The Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic Society is an organizationthat trains, equips, and supports upper cervical doctors who areproviding conservative and quality care around the world. To find aBlair Upper Cervical Chiropractor near you, simply search ourdatabase and request a free consultation to learn more.

Does upper cervical chiropractic really work?

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A common question that upper cervical doctors get is – will thiswork for my condition? Upper cervical chiropractic is not atreatment for a symptom or disease but is a focused approach thatcorrects upper cervical subluxation. Upper cervical subluxation isthe term used to describe the combined structural and functionaldysfunction of the upper neck. Patients with an upper cervicalsubluxation may have a variety of side effects including:

  • Neck pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Vertigo
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Low back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Poor posture
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Meniere's Disease

…and more. Many individuals with these types of symptoms havefound relief naturally through upper cervical care. It is notuncommon for upper cervical subluxation to be overlooked inmanaging these conditions, and testing is required to determine ifupper cervical subluxation may be underlying these conditions foran individual. 

For patients experiencing these types of conditions, uppercervical care can provide hope, healing, and answers!

What is the best chiropractic technique?

While there are a variety of upper cervical methods available,it is important to find the right approach for your situation. Hereare a few key considerations when choosing an upper cervicaldoctor:

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  • Have they had success with your condition before?
  • Are they certified through an upper cervical chiropracticorganization?
  • Do they perform a thorough evaluation (including imaging)?

The Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic Technique is at theforefront of upper cervical chiropractic with it’s versatility,advanced imaging procedures, and reproducibility. This means thatcertified Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractors are highly qualifiedto provide conservative and effective care. Search the directory orrequest a consultation with a Blair Upper Cervical chiropractor todetermine if you are a candidate for upper cervical care.

Is neck cracking by chiropractors dangerous?

Generalized spinal manipulation causing cracking and popping ofthe neck and is performed by conventional chiropractors,osteopathic doctors, some physical therapists, and certain medicaldoctors. These procedures are cruder in the application, andalthough the dangers are minimal, tend to be a “one-size-fits-all”approach. Individuals who are uncomfortable with these types ofadjustments are candidates for upper cervical chiropracticcare.

Can chiropractic neck adjustments cause a stroke?

To date, there is no scientific research that proves acause-and-effect relationship between neck adjustments and stroke.There have been reported cases of cerebrovascular accidentsfollowing neck manipulation, but more research is needed todistinguish causation versus correlation. 

Common side effects of stroke events in progress include neckpain and headaches, which are conditions that are routinely treatedby chiropractors. If you experience intense headaches, rapid onsetneck pain of high intensity, or experience additional effects suchas blurry vision, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, ordecreased coordination, a qualified chiropractor should screen fora more serious condition prior to adjusting your neck. 

Research on the effects of spinal manipulation has proven that ahigh amount of force and rotation is required to stretch the bloodvessels in the neck beyond their normal elasticity. This means thatupper cervical adjustments are extremely safe considering they donot rotate, twist, or aggressively move the position of the head orneck. 

Most importantly, proper evaluation helps to identify situationsthat are amenable to chiropractic care and those that are not. Forpatients suffering from intense symptoms, chiropractic care stillprovides a safe and effective method of recovery once it isconfirmed that your symptoms are not related to an issue with ablood vessel.

Can upper cervical chiropractic hurt your neck?

In short, there is no meaningful risk of injury to the neck withupper cervical adjustments. While some patients might experiencemuscle soreness following an adjustment, these sensations are verycommonly short-lived. Perhaps the greatest risk of injury to theneck is the development of degenerative conditions over time, suchas spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis,etc.

These conditions develop over time as improper alignment andmechanical motion of the spine are left uncorrected. In the sameway that teeth decay over time without proper care, the spinalstructure can also decay over time without proper care.

To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care and todetermine if is a potential solution for you, reserve acomplimentary consultation with a Blair Upper Cervicalchiropractor.

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