An important piece of the Fibromyalgia puzzle may be in the upper neck

Posted in Fibromyalgia on Jan 31, 2021

The health of your upper neck may be an important piece of solving the mystery that is fibromyalgia.

A 2020 study looked at the MRI scans of people diagnoses with fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In brief, the researchers were looking at 4 things:


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  1. Joint Hypermobility between the vertebrae in the upper neck, aka excessive ligament stretching that can occur due to physical injury and/or genetic conditions such as Ehler’s Danos syndrome
  2. Intracranial Hypertension, which is caused when there is a blockage or obstruction of the veins that drain blood from the brain and that causes pressure to build inside the head
  3. Bulging of the brainstem called a Chiari malformation, which occurs when the base of the brain (aka cerebellum) descends into the upper neck canal
  4. Blockages or obstructions of cerebrospinal fluid, which can also lead to increased pressure and nerve dysfunction in the brain.


The study involves 229 people. Here is what the researchers discovered:

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  1. Hypermobility was present in 50% of participants
  2. Intracranial pressure was increased in 55% of participants (although actually, 83% of participants demonstrated signs of increased brain pressure)
  3. Chiari malformations were present in 56% of participants
  4. Disruptions in cerebrospinal fluid flow (aka “obstructions) were present in 80% of participants

These are big numbers!

Indeed, conditions such as fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, and chronic fatigue syndrome are often multifactorial, which means that there are often multiple things going on simultaneously that are creating the problems … and that treatment needs to involve a combination of different approaches

But for over 50% of participants with fibromyalgia to exhibit physical problems that all revolve around the upper neck, it means that the health of this critical area of the body may be one of the most important things that any person experiencing fibromyalgia can do to improve their quality of life.


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The relationship between the upper neck and fibromyalgia

The alignment and normal movement of the upper neck has been linked to a number of health conditions including headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, neuralgia, TMJ, and also fibromyalgia.

The top vertebra in your neck is known as the “atlas” or C1, and it is responsible for your ability to nod your head. The second vertebrae in your neck are known as the “axis” or C2, and it is responsible for your ability to rotate your head.

The atlas and axis are the only two vertebrae that do not have discs to hold them in place. Instead, they are supported by sensitive muscles and strong ligaments that actually anchor onto the connective tissue around the brainstem. These ligaments are known as “myodural bridges,” and they are believed to be essential for normal neurological integrity and also the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.

The atlas and axis also contain a pair of vertebral veins, which drain blood from the base of the brain when you are sitting or standing upright.

It is not hard to see how a problem with the alignment of these vertebrae could produce tension on the brainstem or obstruction of venous or cerebrospinal fluid.

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A team of upper cervical chiropractic researchers in the USA have demonstrated how misalignments in the upper neck can directly affect cerebrospinal fluid flow. More importantly, they have also shown how a specific correction to the alignment of the C1 vertebra can actually restore normal flow!

This same team has also demonstrated how an atlas correction can also reduce the magnitude of Chiari malformations and brainstem pressure, and even brain swelling that may be associated with post-concussion syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis.

There is also a fascinating structural relationship between the alignment of the upper neck and the jaw (aka TMJ).

In brief, the orientation of the TMJ directly affects the alignment of the upper neck, and the alignment of the upper neck directly affects the alignment of the TMJ.

  A team of researchers from Europe has demonstrated a 77-84% improvement in symptoms associated with fibromyalgia by treating the TMJ with dental appliances!

These studies plus an increasing body of evidence is revealing that conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, and fibromyalgia - conditions that were once believed to be psychological and treatment - may have a physical underlying origin!

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More importantly, there may be physical treatments that can help!


Upper Cervical Chiropractic and Fibromyalgia Treatment Brisbane

A novel form of healthcare known as Blair upper cervical chiropractic may be uniquely positioned to help people experience relief from the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic developed and researched in the USA that focuses on the health and alignment of the upper neck - the C1 and C2 vertebrae - and their impact on the health of your brain, body, and nerve system.

The general procedure begins first with a health history (because there are a number of factors that can lead to fibromyalgia, and not simply the upper neck), physical and neurological assessment.

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If it is determined that there is a mechanical issue with the alignment or motion in your upper neck, a Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor will refer or take a specialised series of images that help show the exact location, direction, and degree of misalignment of the vertebrae in your upper neck.  

Such misalignments could be playing a significant role in your symptoms. If so, your upper cervical chiropractor will recommend an initial course of treatment. 

Unlike general spinal manipulation, a Blair upper cervical adjustment does not use any twisting, popping, or cracking the neck. The procedure is precise, light, and quick using no more force than you would use to click a pen.

The ultimate purpose for improving the alignment and motion through the upper neck is to reduce the nerve tension and brainstem pressure, which could be related to your symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.

In this way, Blair upper cervical chiropractic is not a treatment for the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but an approach that believes in the natural healing abilities of the body if simply relieved of interference to its normal function.


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Upper Cervical Chiropractor Brisbane

At Atlas Health in North Lakes (north Brisbane), we believe in the innate potential for every human being to be well and to have the freedom to enjoy the quality go life that they desire. Our practice focuses on Blair upper cervical care for people with chronic, often challenging health conditions including fibromyalgia so that people can experience the best possible opportunities for long-term improvements with their quality of life.

Our principal chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced certified practitioner with the Blair upper cervical society, He is a published author, speaker, international lecturer, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical chiropractic care.

If you have been suffering the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, or fibromyalgia, we would like to offer you a complementary 15-minute over the phone consultation with Dr. Hannah so that you can discuss your condition and ask any questions that you might have so that you can decide if care may be right for you.

To schedule your no-obligation consultation, you can reach us through the Contact Us Link on this page or call us direct at 07 3188 9339.

We hope this article has been both informative and valuable for you. It will be our privilege to speak with you and assist in any capacity that we can.


Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”



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