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Cervical Chiropractic Care


Cervical chiropractic, also known as upper cervical treatment, refers to a specific area of chiropractic care that focuses on restoring the body’s balance by aligning the vertebrae that support the head. Upper cervical chiropractors believe that keeping the spine’s top two vertebrae, also known as C1, or Atlas, and C2, or Axis, aligned is essential to maintaining optimal overall health.

What Is Cervical Chiropractic?

The philosophy behind upper cervical chiropractic treatment is that a subluxation, or misaligned vertebrae, in the upper neck can interfere with nerve function throughout the rest of the body. Therefore, chiropractors focus on restoring proper alignment to the upper neck to maintain overall health throughout the body.

The spine’s top two vertebrae sit directly below the brain stem and serve to support the head, making them an integral part of the nervous system, which sends messages from the brain to all other parts of the body.

The top vertebra, also known as C1 or Atlas, is a donut-shaped bone that supports your skull. The spinal cord originates out of the brain and brain stem and passes through the center of the donut-shaped vertebra, branching out through the spine to all other parts of the body including major organs. Think of your spinal cord as a bundle of electrical cords, consisting of trillions of nerve fibers. These cords bottleneck through the opening in the Atlas to travel through the spine and carry information and nerve impulses to every part of the body.

Understanding Nerve Impulses

The nervous system is essentially responsible for controlling and regulating all parts and functions in the body. If one of the top two vertebrae is misaligned, chiropractors believe the subluxation can interfere with messages being sent from the brain to other parts of the body, such as the heart, stomach, arms, etc., and jeopardize your body’s ability to properly regulate, heal, and function. As a result, a patient may experience pain and illness. Chiropractors refer to this condition as body imbalance, and chiropractors who focus on the upper neck use treatment to help recreate the body’s natural symmetry and balance.

What Causes Body Imbalance?

Body imbalance, or misalignment, can occur as early as childbirth when tremendous pressure on the head and neck move the Atlas out of position as the baby passes down the birth canal. Misalignments can also occur from more obvious injuries, such as car or bicycling accidents, falls, head trauma, and sports-related injuries. Less obvious injuries, such as bumping your head while getting out of the car or tripping and falling down, can cause ailments that appear later on. Pain is often the last noticeable sign that your Atlas or Axis vertebrae are subluxated and require attention.


It is common for patients to notice that they have more colds than usual or ringing in their ears, for example, shortly after a misalignment occurs. These are typical signs that the body is not at its optimal function due to nerve interference. While pain in the upper neck may be the last noticeable sign of a misalignment, it can also be a prelude to a serious illness that may take time to manifest, depending on the patient’s weakness and susceptibility.

Patients with body imbalance have also noticed that one leg is slightly shorter than the other or that one shoulder or hip is slightly higher. Upper cervical misalignment may also cause other symptoms in your body that your medical doctor cannot explain or diagnose.

Benefit Of Cervical Chiropractic

Upper cervical chiropractic care aims to help you recreate natural symmetry and balance. This non-invasive, drug-free healing practice employs gentle correction to eliminate neurological irritation. Using one of the many adjustment techniques available, the chiropractor can help the body’s neural pathways return to their optimal flow pattern, allowing body tissues to mend themselves.


There are multiple upper cervical chiropractic techniques, including Blair, NUCCA, Atlas Orthogonal, Knee Chest, Orthospinology, and Toggle Recoil.

While the techniques may differ, the aims are the same: to restore proper alignment in the upper neck. There is no twisting of the neck. Rather, the chiropractor may use a technique that feels like a brisk thrust, a light tap, or a massage on the side of the neck just below the earlobe, which is where the Atlas is located. It is common to hear loud pops or tiny ticks as the bone moves back into place.

The goal is to reposition the head, which weighs about 10 to 14 pounds (think of a heavy bowling ball), over the center of the body in order to restore the body’s balance and communication through the nervous system. After a successful correction, the body’s muscles begin to relax, blood and oxygen circulation is increased, the brain is able to communicate with the affected area, and the body’s natural healing process is restored. As long as the body’s balance is maintained, the healing process can continue as the pathways from the brain to all parts of the body remain open.

If you are concerned that you may have a body imbalance, consult with a chiropractor in your area to determine if you are a good candidate for upper cervical chiropractic care.

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