The Atlas and the Axis are the top two vertebrae in your spine, the C1 and C2 respectively. Upper Cervical treatment focuses on these two – if we ensure that these two vertebrae are in alignment and functioning properly, the rest of the spin and body will follow suit. The Atlas by itself is a very important bone, your head is supported by the Atlas and it is the vertebrae that allows you to nod your head up and down. You are able to turn your head solely because of the joint between your Atlas and the Axis. Without these two bones, there are many things you and your spine would not be able to do. Going to an Upper Cervical doctor to care for these bones is as important as seeing a dentist for the care of your teeth.
There are many functions and structures of your body that can be directly affected by a misaligned C1 or C2 vertebrae including:
- Vertebral Arteries – These arteries run up the side of your spine and directly around the C1 to your brain. A misalignment in your C1 can put pressure on one of these arteries and disrupt blood flow to your brain, which studies have shown to be the cause of the intensity and frequency of headaches and migraines.
- The Dura Mater – A membrane sack encloses the brain and spinal cord, called the Dura Mater, and is attached to the Atlas and the Axis. A misalignment in this area can place pressure on the Dura Mater, interfering with the production and containment of cerebral spinal fluid.
- Your Neck Muscles – When your spine is misaligned, your muscles will work to counter the effects of a crooked or twisted spine, placing additional stress on some muscles over others. Tension, stiffness, pain, and even headaches form because of this imbalance.
- Your TMJ – The TMJ is your jaw joint; it is only ¾ of an inch from the Atlas and the only thing holding it in place is soft tissue. Movement of your TMJ can be affected by the position of the Atlas and issues with your jaw can occur.
- The C1 and C2 Nerve Roots – Located at the base of your skull, sitting above and below the Atlas vertebrae, are the C1 and C2 nerve roots. These nerves can find themselves easily pinched or swell from pressure from misaligned vertebrae causing an cervicogenic headache.
- Your Eustachian Tubes – More commonly known as the ear canal, your Eustachian Tubes, can become blocked because of an out of position Atlas or Axis. When your ear canal is blocked off, fluid builds up, causing an ear infection.