Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic focuses on the top two bones of the neck. This area is also referrred to as the Craniocervical Junction. In other words, this is where the head connects to the neck. This is also where most of the movement of the neck originates. Our ability to turn our heads and nod up and down comes from this area. That means this area is critical to how our neck functions.
These top two bones, C1 (also known as Atlas) and C2 (also known as Axis), are shaped differently than the rest of the vertebra in the neck. This unique shape allows our neck to have such broad movements. However, this increased mobility comes at the expense of stability. This means that these two bones are prone to subluxation, or misalignment, due to injury or trauma. When these bones move out of position, it can cause our head to be imbalanced slightly, which causes increased strain on the small muscles in the neck. Over time, other muscles in the neck, shoulders, back, etc. are used to help support the head. This can cause changes to posture, and even lead to other problems in the spine such as mid back pain, low back pain, hip pain, or even problems with our knees and feet.
In addition to keeping our head balanced, C1 and C2 also hug the transition from brain stem to spinal cord. When these bones are out of alignment, this can cause increased tension on the structures of our neck (such as the dura mater, nerves, cerebrospinal fluid flow, and blood flow). This can contribute to things like headaches and migraines, dizziness and vertigo, nerve pain and/or tingling in the arms and legs, etc.
In our office, we use two gentle, specific techniques to appropriately align C1 and C2. This decreases muscle strain and increases nerve and blood flow, which allows the head to balance on the neck as it was designed to do. Read more about these techniques below.
The Blair Technique was founded by Dr. William Blair. This technique looks at the individual joints of the Atlas (C1) and Axis (C2), and adjusts the bones accordingly. The adjustment is delivered using the hand and a drop piece. This technique uses about the amount of pressure it would take to squish a grape between your fingers.
Orthospinology is an instrument based technique pioneered by Dr. John Grostic and Dr. Cecil Laney. This technique uses an instrument to deliver a small impulse to move the Atlas vertebra back into proper alignment. This technique uses about as much force as you would use to tap your pencil on the table.