Why the Upper Cervicals? C1 (Atlas) and C2 (Axis)

A closer look at the Upper Cervicals..

Upper Cervicals

The most common questions we get as upper cervical specific chiropractors are “why the upper cervicals?” “What about the rest of the spine?”. Now this is a very valid question. Upper cervical chiropractic is a unique approach unlike any other focusing on just one area of the spine. How can such a small area be so important? In this article I hope to answer that question.

When we analyse the upper cervical spine we are looking at the relationship between four different bones; the occiput, Atlas (C1), Axis (C2), and C3. The joint between Atlas and Axis is highly moveable and is sometimes referred to as a “sloppy joint”.

Due to the high mobility of this joint it allows for the possibility for the joints above and below to misalign; specifically the joints between Atlas and occiput, and between C2 and C3. Now some people may argue that other joints in the spine also have the possibility of misalignment, now this is true however there is something unique about the way the upper cervicals misalign. Because of the unique structure of these joints there is the opportunity for a vertebra to become locked in its misaligned position in a way which the surrounding muscles are unable to correct by themselves. This gives the misalignment at the upper cervical region something which lower spine misalignments do not have, permanency.

The function of the spine is to protect the spinal cord whilst it carries nervous impulses from the brain to every organ, tissue, and cell in the body, and from every cell, tissue, and organ back to the brain. This is how the body and brain communicate and coordinate, this process is essential for the maintenance of normal function and health. However, when a vertebra misaligns there is potential for irritation to nerves affecting their proper function. Often the body is able to correct this by changes in muscle tone around the lower spine, but at the upper cervical spine it is unable to do this.

At the upper cervical it is not just peripheral nerves that become irritated but the spinal cord itself. Therefore if the spinal cord is interfered with in any way by vertebral misalignment it has potential to impact nerve fibres going to any area of the body. If the misalignment goes unidentified and uncorrected for a long period of time there are potential negative effects for not only the spinal cord but the peripheral tissues where the nerve fibres are travelling. And with the permanency of the misalignment the effects will compound over time and can eventually become symptomatic.

This is where the upper cervical chiropractor comes in. We specifically analyse the position of the upper cervical vertebrae to find out where and how they are misaligned and what impact they are having on the nervous system. Once we have performed all of our clinical tests we make a highly specific adjustment in order to unlock the misalignment at the top of the neck and allow the body to restore normal function.

This is “why the upper cervicals”.


To find out more about what you can expect visit What to Expect | topchiro | Marylebone, London (topchiropractic.co.uk)

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