Written by: Dr. Kyle Troyer, DC, Upper Cervical Health Center, Cedar Falls, IA
As a specific Upper Cervical Chiropractor, focusing on the upper cervical spine (atlas and axis), I meet a lot of people with pain issues throughout the spine. Many times we find out through a systems check in a history there are other issues too, like digestive problems, asthma, trouble sleeping, etc. Many times people are surprised that they may actually be related to each other. The answer is that it’s all about the nervous system!
I’d like to share a story with you about you that you may have forgotten. Your body is a self-healing organism! We all know that to be true, as we watch before our eyes cuts and wounds heal from the inside out. Well, that happens on the inside too with fractures of bone, stomach ulcers, even after surgeries! How this happens is the most important part of the story.
Your brain, brainstem, spinal cord, and spinal nerves make up your nervous system. The brain and brainstem send out messages over this intricate telecommunications system out to all the cells in your body, telling them what to do and how to heal. The cells (all 70 trillion of them, give or take a few!) receive these healing messages, do the work, and communicate back to the brain a “status update.” Once the brain and brainstem hear what’s going on, they respond in kind with new instructions and on and on. This is the cycle of healing and function. As long as there is an unimpeded flow of communication through your body, guess how well your body can work? That’s right, just the way you were designed to: perfectly!
The next part of the story is the casing for the nervous system, which is the spinal column. You have 24 stackable vertebrae on top of each other, with a hole down the middle. The hole is where the spinal cord goes through, and as it travels down your spine the nerves come off as branches, leading to different body organs. As long as the spine is lined up and flexible, the nerve flow is unimpeded and we’ve already decided that health is the result. The issue, particularly in our Clinic, is what happens at the atlas and axis (Upper Cervical spine, or the top two bones of the neck).
When one of these vertebrae slip off center, even a millimeter, they can put pressure on the nerve signals trying to get through. This is like a kink in the hose up by the house. You have to unkink the hose before the flowers can get water! The upper part of the spinal cord and lower part of the brain stem are protected by these two vertebra and if they are getting squeezed, you lose signal to different parts of the body. The result over time is less than optimal health.
The goal, if health is our desired outcome, needs to be to start with a healthy nervous system. That’s where people like me come in. The whole purpose of Chiropractic is to clear the nervous system of pressure so your incredibly designed body can function the way it’s intended, withoutdrugs or surgery. These things are necessary in trauma and crisis situations, but over the long term it’s important to know that true health can only come from the Inside-Out. We have sensitive instrumentation to measure if there is nerve pressure and then take X-rays to see the exact misalignment before making any corrections. As we keep the pressure OFF the nervous system, the body is able to communicate the healthy messages to and from the body and things just work better! As you’ve now figured out, in specific Upper Cervical Chiropractic, it’s not really about the spine but it is all about the nervous system!