What is Upper Cervical Care?

Upper Cervical care is a uniqe type of Chiropractic treatment that involves the upper neck bones, which includes the occiput, atlas and axis. Treatment in this area is very different compared to regular, full spine adjustment. It’s almost like a specialty within the Chiropractic realm.

Upper Cervical Head View

There are many techniques and procedures on how to adjust the upper cervical region, but the goal is to remove nerve impingement at the very top of the spine.

Why is this area so important? There are multiple nerve fibers around this area, as well as nerves passing through, where the brain stem (the most inferior part of the brain) first exits the skull and becomes the spinal cord.

There are also major arteries passing through this area to supply blood to the brain as well as veins to drain blood exiting the brain. Because of this, it is important to make sure that the bones are in the proper position to allow proper nerve function and blood flow.

Profile Head View

Any misalignment to this region will create nerve interference and possibly partial occlusion of blood flow and/or drainage to and from the brain. However, the occiput, atlas, and axis area is the least stable in the spine due to mobility. The rest of the spine has interlocking facet joints where the vertebrae are able to stack one on top of another, similar to stackable chair legs. This prevents the spine from extreme misalignment.

The upper cervical bones, however, are only held in place by muscle and ligaments. These muscles give you the ability to turn your head and neck, bend your head forward and backward and tilt from side to side. Not having the same bony interlocking facet joints makes these bones more vulnerable to slip out of position. When that happens, they push up against the spinal nerve and possibly even the brainstem and/or spinal cord, which affects nerve function between the brain down to the rest of the body and vice versa.

Brainstem Compression

This is why upper cervical chiropractic care is so distinctive compared to traditional chiropractic treatment. A TRUE upper cervical chiropractor in Largo will take a specific series of x-rays, thoroughly analyze them to determine the true misalignment, and adjust off of that patient’s personal misalignment pattern.


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