The Connection Between the Upper Neck and the Jaw
I’ve written in other places about the relationship between the skull (cranium), the jaw (temporomandibular joints), and the upper neck. Ultimately, what I’m getting at is that chronic pain - especially in cases of fibromyalgia or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) - many people experience massive relief by addressing previously undiagnosed problems with their jaw and with their upper neck.
There is a massive connection between what happens in your upper neck and your jaw ... and these two areas may hold the key to solving your chronic pain. One study of 555 people suffering from chronic pain had a combination of dental procedures to correct problems with their jaw (craniomandibular dysfunction) in conjunction with therapy to address neuromuscular imbalances with their upper neck (craniocervical dysfunction).
Guess what the researchers’ success rate was? A whopping 84%! (1) As I mentioned at the beginning of this article series, what saddens me from the results of the National Chronic Pain Survey is that a combination of therapies with a potential 84% success rate isn’t mentioned at all!!
An additional study considered the relationship between correcting TMJ and upper neck disorders and concluded by saying that dentists and chiropractors need to work together to effectively correct cranial disorders that can result in chronic pain syndromes. (2) Further work by Dr. Scott Rosa, an upper cervical chiropractor in the USA, who is using advanced MRI imaging is demonstrating that the brain swelling associated with myalgic encephalomyelitis can actually decrease with a vectored, specific upper cervical adjustment.
Not just that, but an atlas adjustment can also improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which is further implicated as a contributing factor in the development of chronic pain. (3)
What is the Next Logical Step for You?
Even if you have suffered from chronic pain for a long time, if you have NOT sought Upper Cervical Care there may be a range of possibilities that you have still not explored.
Even if you have been to see a chiropractor, I would strongly advise that you get in touch with an Upper Cervical doctor in your nearest capital city. My field of expertise is in the way that the C1 and C2 vertebrae specifically can affect the brainstem, leading to a wide variety of neurological problems.
Often these types of conditions are slightly different from things that improve with general spinal manipulation and thus require a more measured approach. One of the things that I also know when addressing chronic pain is that it is multifactorial.
If it was caused by a single entity, surely someone would have been able to figure it out by now! That is the reason there is no single treatment that works 100% of the time. It is because its possible to experience chronic pain for a large number of reasons. Even I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: if something is wrong with the alignment of your upper neck - and if it is disrupting the normal function of your brain - it will be impossible to ever achieve a significant break-through until that is addressed.
Moreover, it is entirely possible that your problems are being caused by a “combination lock” type of problem (which I would strongly encourage you to read about if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I don’t pretend to be all things for all people. I’m not a dentist, I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not a psychologist.
However, I do know how to identify when many of these other factors are present. I appreciate that if you’ve been through the wringer - going from one doctor to the next, each offering hope, but finding no long-lasting solutions - that you may be burned out from the entire process.
I don’t blame you, and I’m not asking for you to put your faith in me either. Hope is an critical element to get through whatever hardship in life you are experiencing.
The only thing that I would advise is simply that if you have never explored the possibility that something with your upper neck or even jaw is having an impact on your chronic pain that you do your research.
And then if it makes sense that you reach out to us. In our practice, the most common group of people that we see are the ones who have been to XYZ specialists over the years (or even decades) … but when we go ahead and get their atlas adjusted, they are able to find the relief that has eluded them for so long.
If you have questions and would like to speak with us directly, you can reach us at 07 3188 9329.
I am grateful that groups like Chronic Pain Australia exist to promote awareness of chronic pain disorders because they are so invisible: i.e, people look 100% normal on the outside, but on the inside, they fight a terrible daily battle.
They are your greatest advocates. Alas, I am still disappointed in the simple lack of recognition that upper cervical care - let alone general chiropractic and dentistry! - can have in helping people, who are so desperate for the answers they deserve.
Again, I get it: Chronic Pain Awareness as an organisation can't exactly endorse a procedure that they have never heard about either! I hope that in my own way I’ve been able to provide an additional degree of awareness with a new approach for you to take to find your own solution.
I wish that there could be an easier way: that I could simply snap my fingers so you could wake from your nightmare. The reality is that there is no magic bullet and no simple solution. But a specific approach following simple principles ... that very well may be the missing piece of the puzzle. We look forward to hearing from you and will do our absolute best to assist you.
- 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.
- Westersund CD, Scholten J, Turner RJ. Relationship between craniocervical orientation and the center of force of occlusion in adults. Cranio. 2016 Oct 20:1-7. doi: 10.1080/08869634.2016.1235254.
- Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015. DOI:10.1159/000365463.