“It feels like my head is too heavy for my neck” This is actually one of the most common things that people who have a misalignment of the top vertebra in their neck actually say. The top vertebra in the neck, known as the C1 or atlas vertebra, which weighs approximately 5 grams supports the weight of your head, which weight approximately 5 g … approximately 1000x heavier!
Now, normally when the vertebrae often spine are properly aligned and moving correctly, the muscles and ligaments that support their position are able to balance the weight of your head with ease atop your shoulders. In other words, even though the head is actually heavy, your atlas bone is quite able to support the weight easily.
However, if you’ve ever suffered a physical injury such as the neck, head, or whiplash trauma, even if you don’t break, bleed or bruise, it can still be possible that the normal position of your spine gets knocked out of place. And if it so happens that it affects the alignment of your atlas, that normal balancing act suddenly gets much harder.
And although an atlas misalignment may contribute towards lots of different health challenges, feeling like your head is too heavy for your neck is one of the most common things.
“Why does my head feel like it is too heavy for my neck?”
Feeling like your head is too heavy for your neck is often associated with other problems as well. It is because a misalignment of the top bone in your neck can also cause lots of other problems that affect the function of your muscles and also of your nerves. And because your atlas bone protects your brainstem and upper spinal cord, the problems can occur anywhere in your body:
- Neck Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Low Back Pain
- TMJ Pain
- Chronic Pain disorders
- Chronic Fatigue disorders
The list goes on and on! It is because if your head feels too heavy for your neck, simply put, your brain and body are not able to move or function and freely as they are designed. And as a consequence, eventually, some part of your body and health end up suffering.
What to do if your head feels like it is too heavy for your neck?
When people feel like their head is too heavy for their neck, one of the first things that they often have checked is a brain MRI or CT to make sure that they don’t have a tumour or a bleed. And the vast majority of the time, the scans come back as normal.
So how can it be possible to have a misalignment in your neck that is responsible for feeling like your head is too heavy for your neck but for your tests to be “normal.” It’s because even a CT or an MRI doesn’t always show what is going on! The reason is that CT and MRI scans are often taking from the front, top, and sideways angles.
However, the structure and alignment of your bones - including your atlas - occur in three dimensions. In other words, unless you’re dealing with a fracture or dislocation, you can’t detect the actual problem from standard angles. You have to look at the views from a different angle - customised and based on your unique bone structure - in order to see what is actually going on!
There is where a profession known as upper cervical chiropractic may be able to help. An upper cervical doctor is a chiropractor with additional study and training in the advanced dynamics of the alignment of the upper neck, the function of the brainstem and nervous system, and how that relates to health issues, a feeling like your head is too heavy for your neck is one of the most common descriptions.
What an upper cervical chiropractor does is perform a series of precise tests very different from a general chiropractor and also from a medical doctor in order to determent the exact location, directions, and degree of any misalignment in your neck, including the atlas vertebra. With this information, they are able to perform a precise series of corrections for that alignment, which can help restore the normal motion and function of the neck.
And as this occurs, that feel of the head being too heavy for the neck frequently goes away. Why, because the vertebrae are back under the body’s normal alignment and control, where it is able to maintain balance. In addition, if that misalignment is no longer present, it may also free up the function of the nerve system so that the body is able to heal from other things that go wrong at the same time.
In this way, upper cervical chiropractic isn’t a treatment per se for any condition or disease. Nevertheless, it is an important and powerful approach that helps the body to function and heal the way that it is designed naturally.
Atlas Treatment Brisbane
Atlas Health Australia is the premier upper cervical chiropractic health centre in Brisbane. Our principal is Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, who is an advanced certified instructor with the Blair upper cervical society. If you would like to schedule a consultation with our practice here in North Lakes, we would be delighted to assist you. Simply contact our office at 07 3188 9329 or click the Contact Us link through this page, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Atlas Health Australia - “Hope healing and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”
Bogduk N. The cervical-cranial connection. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1992;15(1):67-70.
Damadian RV, Chu D. The possible role of cranio-cervical trauma and abnormal CSF hydrodynamics in the genesis of multiple sclerosis. Physiol Chem Phys Med NMR. 2011;41:1-17.
Eriksen K. Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: a review of the chiropractic and medical literature. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins. Baltimore (MD). 2004.
Flanagan MF. The Downside of Upright Posture. Two Harbors Press, 2010.
Flanagan MF. The role of the craniocervical junction in craniospinal hydrodynamics and neurodegenerative conditions. Neurology Research International, 2015; Article ID 794829: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/794829.
Hannah J. The Doctors who Give no Medicine. Health Publishing Intl. 2012.
Martinez-Merinero P, Nuñez-Nagy S, Achalandabaso-Ochoa A, Fernandez-Matias R, Pecos-Martin D, Gallego-Izquierdo T. Relationship between Forward Head Posture and Tissue Mechanosensitivity: A Cross-Sectional Study. J Clin Med. 2020 Feb 27;9(3):634. doi: 10.3390/jcm9030634. PMID: 32120895; PMCID: PMC7141123.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32120895/
Rosa S, Baird JW. The craniocervical junction: observations regarding the relationship between misalignment, obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid flow, cerebellar tonsillar ectopia, and image-guided correction. Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015, pp 48-66 (DOI:10.1159/000365470).
Vernon H.The cranio-cervical syndrome. London, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001.