(Keywords: Atlanto Axial joint anatomy, chiropractic help, whiplash research, cervical facet syndrome)
"Greetings from Winnipeg, Canada. While net surfing I found your site and found it to be very informative and well done!"
This page provides information on a joint that is hugely important in the treatment of headaches, dizziness and severe neck pain.
The atlas is the first bone in the neck. It is quite unlike any other bone in the body; it's simply a ring, with facets above and below which articulate with it's nearest neighbours, namely the occiput of the skull above, and the axis below.
The axis too is quite unique. It is not unlike the other neck vertebrae, except that it has peg called the dens jutting straight upwards.
The atlas rotates on this dens, giving the neck about 50 percent of its rotation.
The Japanese call the axis the Little Buddha. Without too much imagination, you can see why.
The spinal cord, perhaps the most sensitive tissue in the body, passes down through the atlas and axis, carrying vital information to and from the body. Because of this intimate relationship in the atlanto axial joint anatomy, subluxations of the atlas have a profoundly negative effect on the body. Whiplash almost invariably leaves its mark on the atlanto axial joint anatomy, hence today there is much whiplash research being done.
The rules are simple; belt up, don't drink and drive, drive more slowly, obey the laws of the road and take a break every couple hours. The consequences of doing your own thing when behind the wheel are too ghastly to contemplate. Death, life long pain and disability are not uncommon.
Don't you too have family and friends who have been thus affected?
There is no disc between the atlas and the axis. Thus the facet joints, and numerous ligaments of course, provide the only stability between the two bones causing a facet syndrome.
Early chiropractors, known for a reason that escapes me as hole in one, adjusted only the atlas. If you consulted him or her with low back pain, only your atlas would be adjusted. Newer findings confirm that there is an intimate relationship between the atlas and L5, the vertebra that is the most common cause of low back pain.
Read more about the effect whiplash research may have on your choice of treatment for your neck pain. WHIPLASH RESEARCH ...
The Greater Occipital nerve
This nerve emerges between the atlas and the axis, and supplies the base of the skull, the so called occipital region. Irritation of the greater occipital nerve is probably the most frequent cause of headaches located at the top of the neck, especially the atlanto axial joint anatomy. It's an area that chiropractors specialise in.
Just how safe is manipulation of the upper neck; are there dangers? Could you have a stroke?
There simple answer is yes, there are dangers. Having said that, the chances of you having a stroke chiropractic episode are so slight that you can to all intents ignore it. Depending on which research you read, about 1 per 6 million manipulations will cause a serious injury.
I have given probably two hundred thousand cervical manipulations in my career without a serious mishap. Yet they do happen, and the wise chiropractor adjusts the upper cervical spine warily knowing well that's where angels fear to tread.
Part of the solution is to be particularly wary with the patient suffering from dizziness or vertigo; yet the irony is that some of these folk only get relief from adjustment of the neck. The vertebral artery passes up through the atlanto axial joint anatomy to the balance area of the brain. It too can be affected by upper cervical subluxations.
Nevertheless, research shows that seventy percent of vertigo is caused by loose crystals in the inner ear; neither drugs nor the chiropractic adjustment should be used in the first instance.
The warning sign is a postive hallpark dix test; avoid adjusting that patient and the chances of stroke are even more remote.
Ever seen the kidney olympics on television? You'll quickly realise the dangers
of swallowing bucket loads of pills for your headaches is far
more dangerous. Most of those young people lost their kidneys and are on dialysis through taking analgesic medication.
In thirty four years of chiropractic, not one of my patients has, touch wood, had a stroke. One elderly lady had a temporary ischemic attack a week after treatment; it was almost certainly unrelated, and in any event recovered completely, and still consults me once a month. I do tread warily when approaching her neck, naturally.
See lower down more about the potential dangers of stroke chiropractic and particularly dual antiinflammatory drugs. An occasional, regular cervical massage has much merit for the dizzy patient suffering from chronic upper cervical pain and headache.
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The atlanto axial joint anatomy, the jaw joint and the sinuses are intimately interconnected.
The sensory nucleus of the nerve that supplies the jaw joint and sinuses, the largest of the cranial nerves is located in the upper neck. Very frequently folk with popping, grating, painful jaw joints, also suffer from upper cervical pain, migraine and severe facial pain.
Many sufferers from chronic sinusitis also will tell you that they have upper cervical neck pain. There is anecdotal evidence incidentally that chewing the wax cappings from a local beekeeper may help sinusitis. Studies show bees don’t just bring flower pollen back to the hive but also tree and grass pollens thought to be the main cause of chronic sinusitis. A regular inoculation of these pollens may help your sinusitis.
It's for this reason that some beekeepers are now specialising in raw honey that is unheated, and only lightly filtered so that it also contains pollen granules and small wax particles.
Notice how the spinal trigeminal tract marked in italics below caries information from the jaw joint to the sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve which is actually located in the neck and not in the brain. You feel jaw pain in the neck, odd as that may seem.
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Don't underestimate the influence of diet on your neck pain. Firstly, 60% of the brain itself is made of fat, half of which is based on the omega-3 fatty acids. The fats found abundantly in fish, flaxseed and walnuts, and to a lesser extent pecan nuts.
Secondly there is heaps of research showing that the omega-3 fats have a vital role to play in the management of arthritis in general, and in this instance, arthritis in the neck.
Even more important is the omega-6/ omega-3 ratio in your diet. If you're into seed oils like corn and sunflower oil, soybean oil, and have no knowledge of fish oil and olive oil benefits then there's a good chance you would benefit from the thoughts of this heart surgeon on foods to reduce inflammation ...
Thirdly, all nerves are coated in a fatty myelin sheath that is predominantly oleic acid, the fat found abundantly in olives and avocados.
Neck pain? When last did you eat
A long, long time? That could well be part of the cause of your neck pain, even a large part, and it would be generally beneficial to your overall to include more omega 3 foods that have an overall anti inflammatory effect on the whole body, and not just your joints.
The benefits of massage therapy
One of the rules in my health philosophy is to first try the simple thing, before treatment that has potential dangers as well as benefits. The benefits of massage therapy include very few if any misadventures if sensibly applied. An occasional, but regular massage will do wonders for
your neck pain.
If you have cervical pain, and massage doesn't help, then consult a chiropractor for an examination to see if your pain is being caused by a subluxation in your neck.
If that doesn't help, only then consider taking drugs.
Important considerations @ Chiropractic Help
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Interesting challenges of the day
1. Mr B came initially for a painful and stiff neck and then asked whether chiropractic could help the cold numb feeling running down the side of his thigh for six months. Meralgia paresthetica is a double crush syndrome with the nerve affected in the back and groin. He's 80% improved after five treatments.
2. Mrs C has a long history of severe, disabling migraine headaches since having her wisdom teeth removed. She clenches her teeth at night. After six treatments she has no migraines but some jaw joint discomfort remains; a bite plate is in the offing.
3. Mrs U has the trophy for the worst back this year. After major surgery with plates and screws two years later she still had paresis in the lower leg and severe disabling back pain. She's doing far better than expected, in no little part due to a lift in her shoe for a very short leg.
4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.
5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.
6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of her foot. It started after a long drive in the car. After six treatments she is 60 percent better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal.
And now a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.
7. This lady is a 70 year old woman, is on maintenance care for a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection after a total shoulder replacement. After four operations he is incapacitated.
8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.
9. This man is a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. I reassured him it's not hip arthritis.
10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.
11. Mr C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.
12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.
13. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.
And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.
Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?
Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.
Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question
Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.
You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.
The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.