Upper Cervical / NUCCA
My Story: Many years ago I had a very negative chiropractic experience, so when an alternative practitioner I was working with suspected an issue with my C-1 was at the root of my vertigo/dizziness problems, I was reluctant to meet with the Upper Cervical/NUCCA chiropractor she recommended. Her reassurance that this was not going to be the same experience I had previously was the only reason I decided to take her advice, and I am so glad I did! The discovery that misalignment of my C-1 was a major contributor to many of my symptoms has improved the quality of my life immensely. If you suffer with back or neck pain, dizziness/vertigo, headaches, depression, even high blood pressure, you may want to consider being evaluated by an Upper Cervical chiropractor. You will find basic information below, but for more detailed information:Atlas Subluxation/C-1 Misalignment
Information In This Article Includes:
- ATLAS SUBLUXATION COMPLEX (ASC)
- HOW THE SPINE INFLUENCES THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
- CHIROPRACTIC CUTS BLOOD PRESSURE
A misaligned spine can lead to a variety of problems in the body, often in ways that may first appear to be unrelated. If the top bone of the spine (Atlas or C-1) is misaligned and distorted, signals from the brain which travel through the nerve system that feeds all parts of the body, can be affected. Because the nervous system has a dominant role in coordinating information and directing responses, this can have a major impact throughout the body.
Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC), the misalignment of theAtlas/C-1, can cause symptoms ranging from headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, allergies, dizziness, ringing in the ears, depression, and high blood pressure to name a few.
The proper adjustment of C-1 can remove interference to normal nerve function and create an opportunity for the body to heal itself.
The diagnosis and treatment is rather simple – a chiropractor who specializes in the NUCCA System (National Upper Cervical Association) will do a visual exam as well as a series of neck x-rays to determine if treatment is required. The treatment itself is fast, painless and very gentle – at least that has been my experience and that of others I have spoken to. The number of treatments you will need depends on many factors, including the type of condition you have, how long you have been subluxated, your general health and how long the adjustment holds its restored position.
For more information on Atlas Subluxation Complex, including articles, illustrations as well as to find a practitioner in your area, visit www.nucca.org or call the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association at 1-800-541-5799. Two other sites of interest are: www.uppercervical.org and www.upcspine.com.
Can chiropractic help me? Isn't it just for neck pain or lower back pain?
I hear these questions quite frequently, and will answer them and explain the basics about how the spine influences the nervous system.
To begin our understanding of the primary importance of the nervous system, we must look at the growing fetus. The nervous system develops before any of the other systems or organs; before there is a heart that beats, before there are kidneys to filter the blood, before intestines exist to break down and absorb food, there already exists a nervous system to control and coordinate the development of the other systems of the body. That relationship is maintained throughout our entire lives. Health depends on maintaining our bodies in a state of balance (homeostasis) with our internal and external environments. The nervous system is the communication pathway that allows the brain to be aware of our environment and respond appropriately to it.
What if the nerves are not functioning at their best? For example, what if the nerves that control and coordinate the stomach are irritated? Could there be overproduction of acid, indigestion, heartburn? You bet. The one thing that most strongly influences the health and function of the nervous system is the spine. The spine consists of 24 movable bones that surround and protect the delicate nervous system. But because the spine is so flexible, it can also misaligned and become fixed, which irritates the nerves that exit between each bone of the spine. These nerves have target organs that they travel to in order to control and coordinate their function. If the nerve suffers, the target organ will be affected to the same extent. Some more examples of this might be: the fifth bone in the neck strongly affects the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and arms; the second bone in the upper back influences the nerves to the heart, blood and lymph to the chest,shoulders, arms, and hands; the eighth bone in the back influences the stomach, food allergies, and the pancreas; the second bone in the lower back influences the bladder, colon, and small intestines. Did you know that neck problems can be a source of ringing in the ears, upset stomach, high blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, loss of balance or coordination, nausea, problems concentrating, short term memory loss, moodiness, irritability, depression? To get you thinking about this, search on www.webmd.com for a hypertension study that proved a good upper cervical adjustment to the top of the neck lowered blood pressure. (Note: See reprint of article below)
If you are looking for a natural, drug-free option to help heal the body and return to a state of optimum health and human performance, you owe it to yourself to look into chiropractic care. Remember that the body is a self-healing organism, but only if you get rid of the interference blocking that healing.
Christopher Dawson, D.C.
Christopher Dawson has been a chiropractor since 1993 and expanded his specialty in 2002 as a member of NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, www.nucca.org). You can reach Dr. Dawson at email@example.com.
The article below from the WebMD website (www.webmd.com) concernsa University of Chicago research study indicating that proper alignment of the C-1 (Atlas vertebra) can have a significant impact on lowering blood pressure. One of the doctors conducting the study says that misaligment of C-1 can trigger release of signals that make the arteries contract, effecting blood flow to the arteries in the base of the skull, which in turn can have an impact on blood pressure. My husband has struggled with high blood pressure for some time and is currently on medication to control it. After one treatment his pressure is now in the low normal range, and has stayed that way for the last week! I would strongly suggest anyone with high blood pressure look in this type of chiropractic procedure - but make sure you find someone experienced in the NUCCA system (www.nucca.org).
March 16, 2007 -- A special chiropractic adjustment can significantly lower high blood pressure, a placebo-controlled study suggests.
"This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination," study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. "And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems," adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center.
Eight weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent a sham chiropractic adjustment. Because patients can't feel the technique, they were unable to tell which group they were in.
X-rays showed that the procedure realigned the Atlas vertebra -- the doughnut-like bone at the very top of the spine -- with the spine in the treated patients, but not in the sham-treated patients.
Compared to the sham-treated patients, those who got the real procedure saw an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).
None of the patients took blood pressure medicine during the eight-week study.
"When the statistician brought me the data, I actually didn't believe it. It was way too good to be true," Bakris says. "The statistician said, 'I don't even believe it.' But we checked for everything, and there it was."
Bakris and colleagues report their findings in the advance online issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension.
Atlas Adjustment and Hypertension
The procedure calls for adjustment of the C-1 vertebra. It's called the Atlas vertebra because it holds up the head, just as the titan Atlas holds up the world in Greek mythology.
Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, of the Chiropractic Health Center, in Chicago, is the 84-year-old chiropractor who performed all the procedures in the study. He calls the Atlas vertebra "the fuse box to the body.
"At the base of the brain are two centers that control all the muscles of the body. If you pinch the base of the brain -- if the Atlas gets locked in a position as little as a half a millimeter out of line -- it doesn't cause any pain but it upsets these centers," Dickholtz tells WebMD.
The subtle adjustment is practiced by the very small subgroup of chiropractors certified in National Upper Cervical Chiropractic (NUCCA) techniques. The procedure employs precise measurements to determine a patient's Atlas vertebra alignment. If realignment is deemed necessary, the chiropractor uses his or her hands to gently manipulate the vertebra.
"We are not doctors. We are spinal engineers," Dickholtz says. "We use mathematics, geometry, and physics to learn how to slide everything back into place."
What does this have to do with high blood pressure?
Bakris notes that some researchers have suggested that injury to the Atlas vertebra can affect blood flow in the arteries at the base of the skull. Dickholtz thinks the misaligned Atlas triggers release of signals that make the arteries contract. Whether the procedure actually fixes such injuries is unknown, Bakris says.
Bakris began the study after a fellow doctor told him that something strange was happening in his family practice. The doctor had been sending some of his patients to a chiropractor. Some of these patients had high blood pressure.
Yet after seeing the chiropractor, the patients' blood pressure had normalized -- and a few of them were able to stop taking their blood pressure medications.
So Bakris, then at Rush University, designed the pilot study with 50 patients. He's now organizing a much bigger clinical trial.
"Is it going to be for everybody with high blood pressure? No," Bakris says. "We clearly need to identify those who can benefit. It is pretty clear that some kind of head or neck trauma early in life is related to this. This is really a work in progress. It is certainly in the early stages of research."
Dickholtz has been teaching, practicing, and studying the NUCCA technique for 50 years. He says high blood pressure is far from the only thing an Atlas misalignment causes.
"On the other hand, if people have high blood pressure, there is a tremendous possibility they need an Atlas adjustment," he says.