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The Atlas and the Axis

Did you know that 33% of all Americans suffer from tension headaches? Sadly, medical doctors can do little to help headache sufferers. The most they can do is offer pain medicine and muscle relaxants to ease the pain but they can’t prevent headaches from reoccurring.

Upper Cervical Chiropractors, on the other hand, may be able to not only decrease the frequency and length of tension headaches, they may also be able to help patients cut down on or even eliminate the need for the painkillers they use. Of course, this kind of an outcome depends on the exact nature of the headache itself.

The cause of headaches has yet to be pinpointed by the medical community.

In actuality, there might be a cause worth talking about, and it is something that has been known by Chiropractors for over 100 years.

When you experience a trauma of any kind, be it the birth process, falling down as a toddler, slipping on ice, falling off a horse, or being involved in a car accident, oftentimes the top vertebra in our spine, Atlas or C1, can be jarred from its normal position.

This vertebra is the only one in the entire spine not connected by discs to the vertebra below, Axis or C2. It is held in place by ligaments and tendons alone. In the case of an injury, these ligaments and tendons can be stretched to make way for the C1′s new position. Couple this with the fact that the Atlas is the only vertebra that can actually induce increased pressure or tension on the spinal cord by its ability to move so freely and you have a bigger problem.

Sitting just above the Atlas is the brain stem, which is essentially the precursor to the spinal cord. The brain stem is the part of your nervous system that controls and regulates all of your necessary and vital organ functions; things like breathing, heart beat, blood pressure, coordination, balance, immune system.

When the Atlas has encroached upon the neural canal that the spinal cord descends through, this added stress and tension affects the brain stem, essentially disrupting or blocking communication to the rest of the body. This is what we call a vertebral subluxation. This vertebral subluxation can lead to various problems throughout the body, not the least of which are headaches.
If the origin of the headache is cervicogenic–that is, arising from neck problems–then spinal manipulation and soft tissue therapy could be just what a patient needs. According to a 1997 Danish study, sufferers who received these two forms of chiropractic treatment together have significantly better outcomes than those who received one therapy in isolation from the other.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic is a very gentle and specific form of Chiropractic that specifically address the vertebral subluxation at the top of the spine. Removing the vertebral subluxation near the brain stem ensures proper flow of communication between the nervous system and the rest of the body. This is what allows healing properties and the full range of proper brain stem function to effectively coordinate your vital organ systems. This is also what will diminish those migraine headaches to virtually nothing over the course of time, leaving you with nothing but a happy, migraine-free life.

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