Blair Upper Cervical Care

Protect your lower back in standing forehead to knee Pose

Standing poses are fantastic for improving balance and as an added benefit, this pose stretches those often too tight hamstrings.  Yet the standing forehead to knee pose is one that I see done incorrectly the most.  The chiropractor in me winces because I know how easy it is to compromise the lower back when this one is done incorrectly.  

If you are holding up that outstretched leg with your arms, and you know who you are, then you are at risk for straining your lower back.  With the weight of the leg in the arms and your lower back folded over, you're putting a lot of pressure on your spine, and the muscles in the lower back.  The group of muscles at risk is called your erector spinae muscles.  In an ideal world, the leg should actually be held up by its own strength and supported with the abdomen. 

Test yourself to see if you can stand on one leg and extend the other out without using your hands for support.  If you can, you're ready for this pose.  If not, then back off a bit: standing up right with the leg outstretched just at a lower angle or even with the knee bent.  In these modified versions you will still get the benefit of improved balance and increase muscle strength, all while your lower back is being protected! 

Reverse Warrior: Engage your abdominal muscles to spare your spine!

Reverse warrior posture is one of the foundation poses for many yoga practices and is one of my favorites.  It just feels so good to get that deep stretch through the side body while strengthening your legs.  Although as with all yoga poses, alignment is crucial for this posture or lower back injuries can be created or exacerbated.  There is so much going on in this posture that it can be easy to forget to engage your abdomen as you lean back and yet it is crucial to remember this to protect your lower back.    

In this posture you are not just leaning to one side but your also leaning back.  This oblique movement can be compromising to your lower back and should be avoided if you have a recent injury.  Even with the healthiest backs, remember that this movement starts and ends in your abs! 

Low Back Pain and Headaches Improved with Upper Cervical Care

We all know that pain and fear of injury can stop us from doing the things in life that we really want to do and make us feel...well...just not like ourselves. Ryan came to us experiencing low back pain, which was keeping him from exercising. Ryan was becoming frustrated because when he would exercise, his low back would flair up. He was also getting headaches two to three times a week and neck pain. Ryan’s upper cervical spine was corrected and immediately he felt the pressure off his low back. He has now had four upper cervical corrections and his low back pain, neck pain and headaches are all dramatically improved just by getting his head on straight! Is your head on straight?

Whiplash Relief with Upper Cervical Care

Craig was in a bad head-on motor vehicle accident about five years ago, which had suffered from bad whiplash.  When he first came in about eight months ago, he felt unstable in his spine, he had left arm pain, numbness and tingling, as well as low back and neck pain.  Also after the accident, he found that he couldn't work out with being in pain or injuring himself. After the first four weeks of corrections, Craig was reporting dramatic improvements and was able to get back in the gym. Now he has been holding his alignment for about six months - meaning he hasn’t needed to be adjusted! He has his confidence back and is feeling strong!

WARRIOR THREE POSE FOR A STRONGER CORE AND BACK

Warrior three pose or Virabhadrasana III is a more advanced posture and requires the practitioner to have a solid foundation and balance.  This is a pose that is wonderful for strengthening: ankles, legs, back, core, and shoulders.  It is also a pose that if done incorrectly can cause some problems in the body, especially for the hip of the standing leg and for the lower back.  For the ideal benefits of this pose make sure that your foot, knee, hip, shoulders, head and arm of the raised leg are in a straight line, and that the raised leg, toes, hip points, and fronts of the shoulder all point towards the ground.  

This pose also helps with focus, concentration and invigorating the body.   

Remember that keeping a body moving is an important part of keeping a body healthy! 

Happy Practicing. 

MIGRAINE AND BACK PAIN RELIEF AFTER CAR ACCIDENT WITH UPPER CERVICAL CARE

Car accidents can be traumatic and life changing. They can leave you with chronic headaches, neck and back pain, and rob you of your ability to concentrate and complete day to day tasks. Janelle was in a car accident and suffered with those symptoms for over a year before finally finding relief with Upper Cervical Care.

One of the most common injuries car accident victims experience is whiplash, which occurs when the tissues supporting the head and neck are damaged and the bones in the neck are forced out of alignment. No one wants their neck cracked or twisted after getting whiplash, but the technique we use involves gentle adjustments that cause no additional trauma to the neck and give the body time to heal.

HELP FOR MIGRAINE SUFFERERS IN PORTSMOUTH, NH

When you body has a recurring symptom that doesn't resolve medication can be helpful to get you through the day to day, it masks the symptom but you should ask yourself... WHY?   Why can't my body self correct this?  Why does the problem continually recur?  With migraines often the causes can be many factors from environmental triggers like chemicals to life stress but often a big factor is also neurological and structural. 

At Arete Chiropractic, we work at correcting the underlying problem that causes migraines. For many, this is a misalignment of the C1 and C2 vertebrae. These vertebrae are located at the base of the skull. The C1 (atlas) provides protection for the brainstem. If misaligned, however, pressure may be placed on the atlas resulting in various symptoms such as migraines.

Also, a misalignment in this sensitive part of the body may restrict blood flow to the brain keeping it from getting enough oxygen. It could also result in reduced drainage of cerebrospinal fluid, thus causing pressure to build up.

Regardless of the way in which the misalignment causes or contributes the migraines, a correction can help to resolve the issue.   Watch the story below of a woman who's entire life was affected by chronic daily headaches.  

Imaging of the ligaments in the Upper Neck

Follow-Up MR Imaging of the Alar and Transverse Ligaments after Whiplash Injury:

A Prospective Controlled Study

Vetti N., Krakenes J. et al. American Journal of Neuroradiology 32: 1836-41, Nov 2011

 

Why do we do research? To answer questions?  Yet, how often do we seek out research that validates our paradigm?  My guess would be almost always.  Therein is the problem.  To be a true question, we must not think we already know the answer or outcome.  That was the reason that this study caught my eye.

This study was a prospective case controlled study that followed 91 symptomatic whiplash patients and 52 neck pain control patients for 1 year.  MR Imaging was done at baseline on neck pain patients and after the accident and on a 1 year follow up, results were also correlated with the neck disability index. 

The inclusion criteria for the whiplash included: MVA in the past 7 days with onset of neck pain within 48 hours.  No previous history of neck pain, and classified as WAD 1-2 (Whiplash Associated Disorders without any neurological signs, factures or dislocations).

The symptomatic control patients were included when they reported to an outpatient spine clinic with a history >3 months of neck pain with a non-traumatic onset.

The researchers concluded that the areas of high signal intensity (indicating inflammation/fibrosis/fat replacement) in the alar and transverse ligaments did not change significantly at baseline or at 1 year follow up for WAD patients.  Further the prevalence of the alar and transverse ligament high signal intensity did not differ significantly between traumatic and non-injured neck pain controls.

What the researchers concluded is that the alar and transverse ligament high signal intensity in patients with WAD1-2 observed in the first year after injury cannot be explained by the trauma.

Clinical Pearls:

“High signal intensity could theoretically be due to altered ligament function cause by neck pain.”

“Pain induced immobility causes morphologic changes in muscles, tendons and ligaments.”

“High signal intensity of the alar and transverse ligaments is also reported to be frequent in healthy non-injured persons without neck pain.”

Author’s Note: This study is a bit confounding however provides an interesting observation on neck pain related MR imaging. 

Fibromyalgia responds to upper cervical care: A Case Study

Alibhoy N. Resolution of Fibromyalgia Following Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A Case Study. J. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research; June 20, 2011.

The case follows a 45 year old fibromyalgia patient with additional complaints of migraines, neck, upper back and low back pain, numbness in her fingers, bilateral sciatica, right knee pain, depression and duodenal ulcer.   She had a history of two major cervical traumas and 11 car accidents, and had seen 5 different chiropractors in 12 years.  Her activity levels were severely limited and she frequently used a wheel chair. 

Knee Chest protocol was used and the patient was seen 79 times in 17 months with 47 adjustments performed to both atlas and axis. 

At resolution of care the patient did not need the use of her wheel chair and self-reported fibromyalgia and left leg sciatica, right knee pain, chronic back pain and migraines had completely resolved.  Right leg sciatica improved 98%.  The patient was also no longer taking any of her previous routine medications. 

 Case studies are an invaluable starting point for more in-depth research.    

 

Is your neck pain affecting your balance?

Chronic neck pain, standing balance, and suboccipital muscle atrophy--a pilot study

 McPartland JM, Brodeur RR, Hallgren RC, JMPT 1997 Jan;20(1):24-9

 

This study was completed at the University of Michigan and looked at 7 chronic neck pain patients and 7 controls.

The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between chronic neck pain, standing balance and sub-occipital (the base of the skull) muscle atrophy. 

Palpation was used to determine any somatic dysfunction (misalignment) of the upper cervical spine (top of the neck), a force platform was used to measure standing balance, and MRI was used to examine fatty infiltration (evidence of injury and disfunction) of the sub-occipital muscles.

The study found that chronic neck pain patients have almost twice the amount of somatic dysfunction (tenderness, asymmetry of joint position, restriction in range of motion, and tissue texture abnormality) as compared to normal subjects. 

The greatest changes where noted at C0-C1 (where your skull meets your neck) joints and the authors concluded that this area needed the greatest amount of consideration during evaluation.  (IE upper cervical chiropractic)

Further the study showed that chronic neck pain patients demonstrated a decrease standing balance using a force plate, and MR imaging indicated that they had increased atrophy of rectus capitus posterior minor and rectus capitus posterior major. 

The authors also have a wonderful discussion with a compelling hypothesis of the far reaching implications of chronic neck pain…

“Somatic dysfunction can cause a sustained facilitation of motor neurons and reflex contraction of muscles, which may lead to impaired circulation and localized tissue ischemia, followed by atrophic changes in muscles and fatty degeneration.  Muscle atrophy and degeneration have been associated with chronic pain.  Muscles in the cervical region also contain a high density of muscle spindles… Atrophy of these muscles might reduce proprioceptive input into the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and higher centers… A reduction of proprioceptive input might result in facilitation of neural activity which is perceived by the patient as chronic pain.”

In review:  Misalignment of the upper neck causes changes in the muscles and nerves in that area that affect your standing balance!  Standing balance influences your posture, your posture contributes to breathing, hormone production, blood pressure, and more because it’s all connected! Further, the longer you have the neck pain the more negative changes develop.  

Trigeminal neuralgia and migraine pain: One patient's response

Trigeminal neuralgia and migraine pain: One patient's response

Trigeminal Neuralgia and Chronic Migraine: One Patient's response to Blair Upper Cervical Care