Can upper cervical chiropractic help neck pain?

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Nov 25, 2019

"I’ve tried everything for my neck pain, but nothing’s worked.”

If you experience neck pain, do you think that neck pain is the CAUSE of the problem? Or simply an EFFECT?

Let’s look at it this way. Consider some of the different types of neck pain that people can experience:

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  • Dull neck pain ache that radiates into the head and can also cause a headache
  • Sharp stabbing neck pain that grabs when you try to turn your head
  • “heavy head” feeling with neck pain and fatigue
  • Shooting neck pain that radiates either into your arms, hands or between your shoulder blades


Neck pain is often attributed to a wide variety of things: tight muscles, sprained ligaments, arthritis, disc damage, whiplash, etc. But again, WHAT IF ALL THESE THINGS ARE ALSO ON THE EFFECTS OF ANOTHER UNDERLYING ISSUE?

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You see, muscles don’t get tight for no reason. Ligaments don’t get sprained for no reason. And even arthritis and the complications associated with whiplash don’t happen for no reason either. So if you experience neck pain and have been diagnosed with all these things, I want to raise the possibility that there could be a more fundamental underlying issue that could actually be responsible,

If so, I’d like to bring your attention to the top two bones in your neck - the Atlas (C1) and Axis (C2) vertebrae - that could well be responsible for your neck pain … and thus, may offer a natural, powerful solution for your neck pain, health, and overall wellbeing.


How do the Atlas and Axis affect neck pain?

The most flexible area of your spine is your upper neck: the atlas and axis. These two bones allow for 50% of your total ability to nod your head up-and-down, and also to turn your head side to side.

The trade-off for this level of flexibility is that these bones are especially susceptible to injury. Not necessarily fracture or dislocation, but an injury where the normal center of gravity ends up shifting to the side or forwards. 

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It can be any type of injury, notably the ones that you think you got away without injury:

  • Tripping on the footpath and scraping your knees or elbows … the fall can cause a w ripple effect that can hurt your neck
  • Falling off a bike (or motorbike or skateboard)
  • Being involved in a “low speed” car accident. Event the low-speed ones can cause damage because the force of the impact may not be absorbed by the car, and may instead knock your body around on the inside.
  • The thousands of mini-injuries that you may have experienced either as a kid playing on the swings or other sports including swimming (hitting your head on the pool wall), football, and even dance (if you ever slipped and fell hard on your tailbone)


You see, unlike fractures or dislocations or even superficial wounds, unless you experience neck pain immediately after the injury, there may be no visible sign of the underlying problem. But an injury or misalignment with the upper bones of your neck is like a deep bruise: you can’t necessarily see it. In addition, if the injury does not affect the sensory nerves, you might “feel just fine” even though the problem is actually there. 


The old, “small” injuries may be the CAUSE

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As small as some of these injuries may seem, the misalignments they cause are actually smaller! The total movement of your C1 and C2 vertebrae are 10-20mm. That’s it!  And we are talking about misalignments as small as 2-5mm. However, as small as these injuries might be, consider that they represent a 10-30% disruption from the normal center of gravity between the weight of your skull and the movement of your neck.

Then - of your compound, those effects over months, years, or decades - those small injuries can actually make very big differences! It’s not that every single injury can cause your atlas or axis to shift their normal position. It only needs to be that 1/100 time. However, if it happens, then your brain will need to also make certain compensations.

Your head normally weighs 3-5Kg, which is typically the weight of a small backpack. If the alignment of the C1 or C2 is affected, this injury can cause the center of gravity to shift. Typically, this will cause people’s heads to start to shift forwards, which puts excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments through your neck.

For every 2.5cm that you stick your head forwards over its neutral position, the effective weight of your head doubles! When I see people on their computers and phones, I know that they are sitting with at least 20Kg - a fully loaded suitcase! - on their shoulders!!

Now, if this stress remains constant, do you think it is possible that there will eventually be a consequence?

  • When the muscles fatigue, they may become sore and tight
  • When the ligaments are stretched just a bit too far, they may “ping,” which causes the whole neck pain to lock and spasm
  • When the bones are overloaded, they may remodel themselves due to the physical wear and tear, leading to arthritis.

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So you see, when it comes to neck pain, muscles, ligaments, and arthritis, all these processes may only be in the consequences - the EFFECTS - and not necessarily the cause of the neck pain. So with many people, the underlying issue may actually be an injury - and potentially an OLD injury - that has finally accumulated to a point where your body simply cannot compensate anymore, and the result is that is it now causing you neck pain.


Have you had your atlas alignment checked?

If you experience neck pain, one of the most important things that we can recommend is that you have the alignment of your atlas and axis checked in proper detail. There are many approaches to working on the neck for neck pain including spinal manipulation, stretching, exercising, massage, trigger point therapy, etc. And there is a time and place for each of these therapies.

The approach that we use as Atlas Health Brisbane is a special division of chiropractic known as “Atlas” or “Upper Cervical Care.” The procedure is actually remarkably different from what many people think of as chiropractic because there is NO twisting or cracking the neck. NO SPINAL MANIPULATION AT ALL. So how does it work then? And how is it different?

The first thing that we do is a detailed assessment to determine the nature of your condition. In brief, there are three types of nerves in your neck.

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  1. Sensory Nerves, which are responsible for pain and your sense of balance … so if you are experiencing neck pain, that box is already ticked that there is a problem.
  2. Motor Nerves, which are responsible for muscle activity and your posture.
  3. Autonomic Nerves, which control all the functions in your body that keep you alive that you don’t have to think about! 


So what we do before any treatment is a series of tests to determine three things:

#1 Is your neck pain related to an underlying condition affecting your nervous system and the function of your body?

#2 Is the problem likely due to an injury to the alignment of your upper neck?

#3 Do we think that we can help? And if so, how and how long will it take?

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We also take a series of 3D x-rays, which help us see the exact direction and degree of any misalignment in your neck. 

With all this information, we do not need to use spinal manipulation to move the joint into your neck. Instead, we are able to apply a specific correction that is custom-tailored for your unique body structure with the least amount of force but for the greatest potential for a positive outcome.

It is our opinion and experience that the direction of the correction is often the key difference in what we do at Atlas Health Chiropractic in being able to help people.


When is the last time you have your atlas checked?

When was your last dental checkup? Your last car service? Or even your last haircut?

We believe that prevention is better than cure. And if you do too, you would agree that if you do have a problem with your neck, it is a good idea to get it checked out in detail before you experience problems. And if you already do experience something like neck pain, you would agree that it’s not a wise idea leaving things to chance. Instead, your belief that it is important to find out what is going on and what you can do about it.

So let me ask you: when is the last time that you had the alignment of your neck checked by an upper cervical doctor of chiropractic? If the answer is, “A long time ago,” or like most people, “Never.” then we would like to take this opportunity too invite you to have a chat with us Dr. Jeffrey Hannah is the principle chiropractic doctor at Atlas Health Chiropractic in North Lakes. He has over 12 years of professional experience in upper cervical work, is an international lecturer and published author. 

If you would like to speak personally with Dr. Hannah to discuss your particular condition, to ask any questions, and to find out is upper cervical care is right for you, please click the Contact Us link on this page, or alternatively call us at 07 3188 9329.

Dr. Hannah is an exclusive provider for Blair Upper cervical chiropractic care in Brisbane. Our office is conveniently located in North Lakes along the Bruce Highway to service the greater Brisbane area and also the south Sunshine Coast. 

It is common for many of our clients to travel 60-90 minutes in one direction. And although we wish that we COULD refer you to a more local practitioner, we are still the only upper cervical specific chiropractic in the Brisbane area.

Even if you are outside the Brisbane chiropractor area but would still like more information, please contact our office at 07 3188 9329, and we may be able to direct you to your nearest upper cervical chiropractor.



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