You’ve heard of Atlas, the Greek god who holds the world on his shoulders. In your body, your atlas vertebra is the very top bone in the spine. This atlas also holds up the world—well, your head, anyway, which is pretty much the world to you. Most of the bones in your body are interlocking, but not the atlas (also called C1). It’s a free-floating central control system for your body. The free-floating part is important because that’s what allows us to turn our head around to look over our shoulder when it’s time to back out of a parking space, for example.
When the upper neck (the Atlas or the second vertebra, the Axis) gets subluxated or misaligned, it can cause problems throughout the entire body. Structural problems in the upper neck are closely related to symptoms like headaches, sinuses, dizziness, vertigo, ringing in the ears and ear infections in kids.
People are sometimes nervous about having their neck adjusted, but there’s no need for concern. Upper cervical adjusting techniques are well researched and proven to be safe. In fact, the upper spine is the most researched part of the spine in chiropractic.
Upper cervical chiropractors undergo special training to analyze x-rays and position the patient carefully to make a specific type of adjustment to unlock the top two vertebrae. Dr. Martin has over 300 hours of training specific to upper cervical adjustments.
Recent studies both in the chiropractic and medical fields have show correlation between adjustments to upper neck and improvements in blood pressure, creative thinking, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s symptoms, and others.
Chiropractic and Parkinson’s Disease
Adjustments to the upper neck have been shown to improve symptoms associated with progressive neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. We’ve seen this in action numerous times, but the most memorable instance for Dr. Martin happened when he practiced chiropractic in Peru in 2012. There was a man with Parkinson’s disease who could not walk even 50 feet without his cane or walker. He couldn’t go up stairs by himself or navigate his house. He leaned on his can and his wife’s arm every time he slowly entered the clinic. Dr. Martin began adjusting the upper part of his spine with specific upper cervical adjustment techniques. Within three months, the patient was walking on his own from the parking lot into the clinic, going up stairs without help and walking around his house without a cane or walker. His wife wrote Dr. Martin a touching thank-you letter that he will cherish forever.
Upper Cervical Adjustments Help The Immune System
Upper cervical is one of the original chiropractic techniques and has been updated and modified over the years. The upper neck is usually the first area we adjust when a person is sick. Research shows that adjustments to the atlas and axis vertebrae (C1 and C2) strengthen the immune system. We see this all the time with patients in our office. They come in sick and feel better almost instantaneously after an adjustment to their neck. When we work on the upper neck for a period of time, patients tell us they notice a difference in how their body copes with allergies and sinus problems. It’s very common to hear a patient say something like Jose (a real patient):
“Prior to the regular chiropractic care I had sinus headache and infection at least twice a year plus upper respiratory infection. During this past year of care I have not had one of these problems. I have not needed medical care nor have I had to take antibiotics for over a year. For this reason alone I will continue chiropractic care for the rest of my lifetime. I appreciate the results I have experience from chiropractic are. Thank you, Dr. Martin.”
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