The Role of the Upper Cervical Spine and Neurodegenerative Conditions

Can the alignment of the bones in my upper neck prevent Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers, Parkinson's and Dementia?...

The paper we are reviewing this week is called “The role of the craniocervical junction in Craniospinal Hydrodynamics and Neurodegenerative Conditions. Well that’s a lot of big words, what do they all mean and how are they connected!? The Craniocervical Junction (CCJ), aka the Upper Cervical spine, is the joint between your head and your spine. This is important because all of the nerve signals between your brain and your body go through there and the blood and Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) flow travels between the joint as well. The CCJ is comprised of the Base of the Skull or occiput, the Atlas or first Cervical vertebra, and the Axis or second cervical vertebra. What makes this joint different is that it doesn’t have a disc above it or below it and gives rise to approximately half of the Flexion and extension and left and right rotation in your neck. Therefore the joint is prone to injury as it is the most mobile joint in the spine but also the most unprotected as it is held together by ligaments, tendons, and muscles unlike the rest of the joints in the spine that have boney locks. 20% of the arterial fluid that travels to the brain travels up through the CCJ as well as when you are upright the venous drainage route of choice for the blood is through the vertebral venous plexous through the CCJ, not the larger jugular veins! This is important to understand because if the CCJ is misaligned at either ATLAS (C1) or AXIS (C2) it can create fluid imbalances in the brain which can be very bad. So If you experience feelings of pressure in the head or pounding or whooshing it might be something an Upper Cervical Chiropractor could help with by correcting the alignment of C1 or C2. Call today to find out more 603.380.9184.

The fluid flow balance to the brain is very sensitive. When arterial blood travels up to the brain it is very carefully balanced by venous blood coming back down out of the skull through the Upper cervical spine or CCJ. This is also balanced by the CSF fluid leaving through the venous system as well. So all of this fluid is constantly moving based on heart beat rhythms, respiration or breathing, and movements of the rest of the body especially when going from standing up to laying down or inverting. When the blood leaves the skull it prefers to go through the vertebral plexus which can be an issue for some people backing up into the brain causing what is known as Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency or (CCSVI) and this can in turn cause things like Multiple Sclerosis. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain so the brain balances the blood very carefully coming to it and going away because if blood isn’t getting to the brain we can have hypoxia or nutrient deficiency. As well going away from the brain if blood is getting away quickly enough it can cause pooling or build up of toxins in the blood which can injure brain tissue. The brain tissue is very sensitive to changes in environment so having the cervical spine which is a gatekeeper for the brain in good alignment can prevent any of these such build up of toxins or lack of nutrients. So if you know of someone suffering from Multiple sclerosis or a chronic neurodegenerative disease getting their neck checked by an Upper Cervical Specialist can be greatly helpful.

Finally the Cerebrospinal Fluid flow or CSF flow is a very important piece as well. The CSF can be obstructed by either a malformation of the CCJ or misalignment of C1 or C2. This can happen in cases of Chiari Malformations where the Cerebellar tonsils actually drop down into the foramen magnum at the base of the skull and into C1 which ends up rerouting CSF flow and can cause eddies and jets in the brain. This is bad for the brain tissue again as the tissue is very sensitive to changes in the environment. Alignment of C1 and C2 can greatly impact the CSF flow in these Chiari patients as there symptoms are a result of pressure imbalances and direct brainstem pressure. If you know of someone who struggles with Chirari malformation or malformations of the CCJ getting their upper Cervical spine checked can be a great help to their bodies function.