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What is Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care?

There you are, turning off your 6:00 AM alarm. Hopping out of bed, with a smile on your face, ready to conquer the day! You make your morning coffee, scroll through Facebook, and then jump into the shower. You get dressed, brush your teeth, and do your hair. Walking to the garage, you feel it coming on. That sensation we are all too fond of…a sneeze! You take a big deep breath in, turn your head, and let it out! Ahhhh chooo! But wait? Why can’t you move your neck now? Oh no! You’re now stiff from your atlas to your ankles! What do you do? It’s time to call the Chiropractor!
Dr Tyler Stewart, chiopractor
Hi everyone, my name is Dr. Tyler Steward and I am an Upper Cervical Chiropractor at North Peak Chiropractic. I often get asked, “What is an Upper Cervical Chiropractor?” Due to the fact that only 3% of the profession practices true Upper Cervical, as well as the name sounding more “OBGYNish” than “Chiropractically” (for lack of better words), the uncertainties are completely understandable.

Chiropractic Defined

So what is Upper Cervical Chiropractic? Let’s start by defining what Chiropractic is, in its general form, first. Chiropractic is the science, art, and philosophy of correcting spinal misalignments that are affecting the nervous system. Our brain controls every cell, tissue, and function in our bodies. It uses the nervous system to rely its messages. The central part of our nervous system is enclosed, and protected within the spine. Our spine is made up of moveable bones called vertebrae. A past accident or injury can tear loose connective tissues that hold the vertebrae in place, thus causing one of them to misalign. This misalignment can put mechanical pressure on the nervous system, affecting the pathway between your brain and other body systems. Chiropractic’s goal is to find these misalignments that are causing nerve interference, and reposition them to allow the brain to properly communicate with every cell, tissue, and bodily function.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Defined

Now that we understand what Chiropractic is, let’s discuss what Upper Cervical Chiropractic is! First, let’s break down the term. Cervical means neck, and upper means…well..upper! So, Upper Cervical means upper neck. The upper neck is very special and unique. It contains 2 vertebrae and 3 joints that are like no other in the rest of the body, anatomically. There are ligaments that attach from the first vertebra to the spinal cord. You have two major arteries, a crucial vein, and a lymphatic tract all traveling through here. Multiple cranial nerve cell centers are located here. Oh, and your brain stem, we mustn’t forget that structure! Anatomically, physiologically, and neurologically, this area is very unique and sensitive.

An accident or injury, no matter how minor, can tear loose the connective tissues that hold this area together causing a misalignment. When this happens, the neurological tract on the side of your spinal cord that controls muscle tone and posture can become distorted. Not enough or too much nerve stimulation will now be sent to the major muscles of the pelvis, causing one hip to go higher and one lower, one leg draws longer and the other shorter. Movement becomes abnormal, you lean to one side or the other, and bodily functions become affected.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Summarized

cervical adjustment

An Upper Cervical Chiropractor checks for these physical and full body signs of an upper neck misalignment. If these signs are found, they will then take very precise x-ray images of the upper neck (see x-ray picture). Upper Cervical technique systems have an x-ray line drawing protocol to calculate the exact angle needed to correct your misalignment. The patient is then positioned on their side, with their head supported by the table (pictured to the right). The Upper Cervical Chiropractor places an instrument behind the patient’s ear, and sets it up at the angle from the patient’s x-ray measurement. A tap that is less than 3 pounds of force will be administered to the upper neck. There is NO twisting, NO cracking, and NO popping involved! After the correction, the Upper Cervical Chiropractor will recheck the patient to verify that both the hips and legs are now balanced. If so, two of the x-ray images will be repeated to verify that the misalignment has been corrected or reduced.

As you can tell, this is a very precise and objective approach to care. By correcting the upper neck misalignment, the entire body benefits. This explains why hip impingement, knee pain, and low back pain patients do so well under care! Being this precise allows the Upper Cervical Chiropractor to determine without hesitation if the patient’s complaint is truly stemming from the upper neck. Being this precise also keeps the Doctor honest with himself. Using these objective measures, the Upper Cervical Chiropractor knows without a doubt if he corrected the misalignment or not. I am pleased to say that I love going into “work” everyday knowing that I get to help people with such a powerful approach to care.

Find out how we can help, give us a call and schedule your appointment today!

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