The Upper Neck Misalignment - The Trigeminal Neuralgia Connection
Misalignments happen at all levels of your spine. Usually, your body is able to self-correct them (like stretching your arms above your head and feeling a few “clicks” between your shoulder blades). The problem is a specific type of misalignment that your body is unable to correct on its own. Experts in the Upper Cervical spine identify these types of misalignments as subluxations.
The problem with a subluxation is not the bone itself, but how a shift in the normal position of the bone pulls the dura, which in turn exerts abnormal tension on the spinal cord itself. There are two differences between a subluxation in your lower spine versus a subluxation in your upper neck.
The first reason is the strength of the dentate ligaments. In the lower spine, the ligaments are rather slack. It is much less likely for misalignments of the vertebrae in the lower spine to exert sufficient tension on the spinal cord as to cause neurological problems (although it does happen!).
The brainstem is the vital control center for all functions in your body. The brainstem contains a tremendous number of cell clusters (nucleus or nuclei) that control and coordinate all the vital functions of your body. These functions include all circulatory (heart), pulmonary (lung), digestive (stomach, pancreas, and intestines), detoxification (liver), excretory (kidneys), hormonal (pituitary, thyroid, and adrenals) and immune system activities. In other words, your brainstem is your life.
Remember also what I mentioned before: your brainstem also includes the Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus, which receives all sensory information from the branches of the Trigeminal Nerve and from the face. So let me pose you two questions:
- IF you have a subluxation involving the C1, C2 and/or C3 vertebrae in your neck that exerts tension on your brainstem via the dura mater and the dentate ligaments, do you suppose that this tension will cause a disruption of the normal neurological processes that occur in your brainstem?
- And IF you answered “yes” to the first question, what do you suppose would happen if the specific cluster of cells being affected by this tension was the Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus? What symptoms or symptoms do you think you would experience?
(If you didn’t already guess it, I’ll give you a hint: the brain often perceives abnormal sensory information, specifically, information called nociception, as pain.) That is the connection between your upper neck and Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Upper Cervical Care
If you search the internet, blogs and support forums, it will not take you long to discover people who have experienced significant relief from Trigeminal Neuralgia naturally and without surgery or medication after seeing an Upper Cervical Specific Doctor.
So how is Upper Cervical Doctor different from a normal chiropractor? Just as there are specialties within medicine and dentists, the same is true within chiropractic. And it does NOT involve cracking, twisting or neck manipulation. An Upper Cervical doctor focuses on the top vertebrae in the neck: the C1 (atlas), C2 (axis), and C3.
The first part of an Upper Cervical examination is to determine IF you have a misalignment of C1, C2, or C3 in the first place. In our office, we use Paraspinal Thermography as an objective tool to measure if your nervous system is working properly.
Like an electrician tracing a faulty wire, we also perform a full-body nerve assessment, which including the Trigeminal Nerve. In this way, we can trace the most likely origin of your symptoms. If we determine that you do have a problem with your upper neck, the next step involves advanced x-ray imaging. Standard Medicare views look for things like broken bones and arthritis. There are two additional things that we need to see:
- Are the joints in your upper neck properly aligned? and
- Are they moving properly?
The only way to see these two things is to take customized views that are based on your unique bone structure. Because this procedure requires specialized equipment, we take our own images on site. In fact, our office is the only facility in Queensland with all the equipment necessary to take these views.
When we determine exactly what is happening with your neck, we will propose an Upper Cervical care plan for you. Indeed, many people have experienced rapid relief from Trigeminal Neuralgia following even one correction. However true, our experience is that long term recovery from Trigeminal Neuralgia takes time.
The Upper Cervical Correction - Trigeminal Neuralgia
The method we employ is our office is called a “Blair Upper Cervical specific adjustment.” The procedure involves a precise impulse given by hand to correct the misalignment of the C1, C2, or C3 vertebrae. The force of the adjustment is equivalent to the amount of pressure it takes to squeeze a grape.
There is no twisting, cracking, or neck manipulation with this procedure, which makes it highly safe. After the adjustment, most people actually say that they didn’t feel anything (and wonder if the adjustment did anything at all!).
The Blair method is our preferred approach, but we are well versed in a variety of Upper Cervical specific techniques that include a modified Atlas Orthogonal adjustment, QSM3 correction (similar to NUCCA) and “HIO” Knee Chest procedure.
In fact, our office is one of only 10 in all Australia that focuses specifically on Upper Cervical care, and we are one of only 3 in Queensland. Ultimately we know that the technique does not matter when it comes to Trigeminal Neuralgia. The only thing that matters is, “Can we help?”
Our One Guarantee is to Do Our Best to Help You
It would be folly to guarantee that Upper Cervical Care will resolve your Trigeminal Neuralgia. Upper Cervical Care is not a cure for even direct treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia. It is an approach to restore the correct alignment of the top three vertebrae in the neck.
We believe that the procedure reduces abnormal tension on the spinal cord and brainstem, which can provide relief from Trigeminal Neuralgia. There is only one guarantee that we make in our office: i.e. to do our absolute best to help you experience the relief you are seeking.
At the time of writing this article (June 2018), I looked through office records to determine our success in helping people with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Our records indicate a 90% quality of life improvement for people suffering Trigeminal Neuralgia with 60% experiencing complete or near-complete resolution while under care.
- Yarnitsky D, Goor-Aryeh I, Bajwa ZH, et al. 2003 Wolff Award: Possible parasympathetic contributions to peripheral and central sensitization during migraine.
- Burstein R, Jakubowski M, Rauch SD. The science of migraine. J Vestib Res. 2011;21(6):305-14. doi: 10.3233/VES-2012-0433.
- Häggman-Henrikson B, Rezvani M, List T. Prevalence of whiplash trauma in TMD patients: a systematic review. J Oral Rehabil. 2014 Jan;41(1):59-68. doi: 10.1111/joor.12123. Epub 2013 Dec 30.
- Burgos-Vega C, Moy J, and Dussor G. Meningeal afferent signaling and the pathophysiology of migraine. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;131:537-64. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.01.001. Epub 2015 Feb 9.
- Losert-Bruggner B, Hülse M, Hülse R. Fibromyalgia in patients with chronic CCD and CMD - a retrospective study of 555 patients. Cranio. 2017 Jun 5:1-9. doi: 10.1080/08869634.2017.1334376.