Have you been experiencing “brain fog?”
It certainly isn’t a fancy diagnosis, but I appreciate that it’s hard to describe. It’s like your brain isn’t quite as sharp as normal - like everything is fuzzy - affecting your vision, your concentration, your memory, etc.
Believe it or not, “brain fog” is an exceptionally common description that people say to describe this phenomenon. The question is, as I’m sure you are hearing to learn, “What is the cause of brain fog?" And then the quick followup question, “How fo you treat brain fog?”
Because there’s no such thing as a “brain fog specialist,” you aren’t exactly going to be able to find that on Google. In this particular article, I want to answer those two questions about brain fog. And I want to tell you about a novel approach to healthcare that looks at the alignment of the atlas (C1 bone in the neck) that may help you find the natural solution you are looking for.
What no one has ever told you about Brain Fog
Sometimes, people with brain fog describe the sensation as if their brain isn’t getting enough blood. Other people say it’s more like there’s a pressure inside that’s causing the brain fog. And others say there is no pressure, but it’s like things just aren’t clicking.
All of the above, kind of. Let me give you some brief anatomy to help clarify the situation. Ultimately, the “thinking” part of your brain is called the prefrontal cortex, which collects information from all other brain centres in order to form a clear thought.
The major sources of input relate to your external environment (e.g., temperature, noise, time of day, etc) and also your internal environment (e.g., body position, how well your organs work if there is any internal damage, etc).
If your upper brain had to process all this information on its own, your head you metaphorically explode! It would simply be too much information. Therefore are two major filters in place that prioritise the signals. The secondary filter is called the thalamus, which is located in the middle part of your brain.
However, the primary filter is called the reticular activating system (RAS), which belongs to a cluster of cells in your brainstem.
So here’s the thing: if you experience dysfunction of your RAS, it can go onto affect your ability to think. In addition to brain fog, some of the more common symptoms that people experience include difficulties sleeping, insomnia, anxiety, depression, general moodiness, pain disorders anywhere in the body (including fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome).
What is the Role of your Upper Neck in Brain Fog?
The top two bones if your neck - the C1 (atlas) and the C2 (axis) have a profound impact on the health of your brain and body. Foremost, the pair of arteries that supply blood to your brainstem (called the vertebral arteries) transmit directly through the C1 and C2 vertebrae.
Potentially, a problem that affects the alignment of these bones may cause a “kinking” of the arteries … not necessarily to the degree of blocking off the flow, but in such a way that may reproduce turbulence or reduce flow. Amongst other potential problems, such a reduction can disrupt the normal functions of your brainstem and thus create the sensation of brain fog.
Along with the vertebral arteries are a pair of vertebral veins, which drain blood from the brain. The same thing can happen with a misalignment of the upper neck if it constricts the flow of blood, causing to dam backward into the brain.
The resulting pressure and disruption to the flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is a well-documented phenomenon. Many people who describe brain fog and receive a specific correction to restore the alignment to the neck report significant changes, like “things just got brighter” or like the pressure released “like water flowing down a drain.”
There’s a third important mechanism that you may want to know if you experience brain fog. Researchers from the New Zealand College of Chiropractic have demonstrated that improving the motion through the joints in the neck that brain function improves! And not just in one area.
The research team has discovered changes a) in the cerebellum which is the primary balance, coordination and muscle tone center of the body; b) in the primary motor cortex, which is the primary movement center of the body; c) in the sensory-motor cortex, which is the part of your brain that processes pain and other signals correctly; and also d) the prefrontal cortex.
The researchers believe that the abnormal information coming from the neck overwhelms and disrupts the normal function of the RAS and thalamus, which in turn affects the ability of your brain to process information. It is a process called the Dysafferentation Hypothesis. Therefore, by restoring normal motion and alignment through affected joints in the neck, it may be possible to enhance normal brain function and resolve issues including brain fog.
Can Upper Cervical Care Help your Brain Fog?
At Atlas Health - a North Lakes chiropractic clinic - our focus is on the specific alignment of the top bones in your neck: the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2). It is a special division of Brisbane chiropractic practice known as Blair Upper Cervical Care. And at the time of this writing, we are the exclusive Brisbane chiropractic provider of this unique and powerful approach.
You may have just read the word “chiropractic” and had all kinds of images come to your mind about spinal manipulation, twisting or cracking the neck. Maybe you have had a positive or even a negative experience with chiropractic in the past. In either case, what I need to share with you that the approach that we use is different.
Blair upper cervical care is a personalised approach to healthcare that first uses a series of specific structural and neurological tests to diagnose if you have a misalignment in your neck that could be affecting the health of your brain or body.
These tests include computerised paraspinal thermography, which measures the function of your nervous system: and also 3D, customised x-rays, which allow us to see the alignment of your neck from angles that aren’t looked at with standard x-rays including CT or MRI scans.
In brief, the extra level of detail allows us to design a care plan for you that will allow us to restore the motion in your neck without twisting or cracking - I repeat no spinal manipulation - using the amount of force that you would use to feel your pulse. We then monitor your condition using objective testing to determine when your nervous system is functioning and healing properly.
As you heal, we often see changes in any areas of health including less pain, better movement, better body function, and - of course - brain fog.
Have you Tried Upper Cervical Care to Help your Brain Fog?
Even if brain fog hasn’t stopped you from doing anything in your daily life, it can certainly make it difficult - especially if you do lots of work or study that involves reading, writing, computer work, or even just thinking.
But don’t be fooled by it. Brain fog can be a sign that there is a genuine problem there that will only get worse unless addressed. You see, brain fog - of where you just don’t feel quite as sharp as you normally would - can be one of the initial signs that your body uses to let you know that there is a problem.
After that, things like mild neck pain, headaches, or back pain may appear. But then, if you still don’t address the cause of the problem, those minor annoyances can evolve into more sinister things like migraines, dizziness or vertigo, radiating pain into the hand or legs, or other neurological conditions.
So if you do experience brain fog, consider it your fortunate sign that you may only be at the stage where you can take the right action that may allow you to avoid all these other types of conditions later in life.
So if you are the type of person who prefers to prevent illness so that you don’t have to find a cure … if you are the type of person who prefers to correct the cause instead of just treating the symptoms … and if you are the type of person who prefers a natural approach to healthcare instead of relying on medication, then reaches out to us today at our North Lakes chiropractic clinic to find out how Blair Upper Cervical care may be able to help you.
If you or a loved one are looking for a natural option that may be able to help your brain fog, please contact our office at 07 3188 9329 to speak with one of our doctors of chiropractic. Our practice is located in North Lakes to service your North Lakes chiropractic needs, and also if you are looking for an upper cervical chiropractor Brisbane or upper cervical chiropractor Sunshine Coast.
Take care of your neck with Blair upper cervical care and Atlas Health.
Daligadu J, Haavik H., Yielder PC, et al. Alterations in cortical and cerebellar motor processing in subclinical neck pain patients following spinal manipulation. Manipulative Physiol Therap. 36(8); 2013:527-537. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24035521
Haavik-Taylor H and Murphy B. The effects of spinal manipulation on central integration of dual somatosensory input observed after motor training: a crossover study. J Manipulative Physiol Therap. 33(4);2010:261-272. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20534312
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Seaman D, Winterstein J (1998). "Dysafferentation: a novel term for the neuropathophysiological effects of joint complex dysfunction. A look at likely mechanisms of symptom generation". J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 21 (4): 267–80. https://chiro.org/ChiroZine/ABSTRACTS/Seaman_dysafferentiation.shtml
Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015. DOI:10.1159/000365463.