There is an intrinsic neurological attempt to maintain the eyes in a horizontal level and as a result the upper neck segments are constant adapting to maintain proper neck and head position, this contributes to the high compensatory misalignments seen in this region.
The alignment of the occiput, atlas and axis make up this important upper cervical complex as its the gateway for all neurological input from and to the brain, there is a vast amount of peripheral and central neurological network controlled and influence by this area, this explain the variety of health conditions that are likened with dysfunction in this area.
Neurological syndromes associated with Upper cervical dysfunction.
Occipital Headaches: Is characterized by a severe pain in the upper neck and back of the head that may radiate toward the eyes. Is caused by an irritation of the lesser and greater occipital nerves at the base of the skull. Upper cervical dysfunction is generally associated with this type of headache.
Tension Headaches: Is generally triggered by an upper cervical dysfunction causing the muscles of the neck and head to become hypertonic and tight eventually resulting in the full-blown tension headache symptomatology.
Cluster Headaches; Is considered one of the most painful conditions. The symptoms usually locate around the forehead and eyes and is described as sharp and extremely debilitating disorder. Chronic upper cervical dysfunctions may alter the central neurological connections and create several patterns of referred pain as seen in this type of HA.
Migrane: There are several factors that influence the development of migraines, upper neck dysfunction is a common precursor as per the significant central neurological connection is has with other bodily function structures resulting in the development of this type of headache
Bell’s Palsy: This condition causes a paralysis of certain muscles of the face. There are two areas of the nervous system that influence this disorder, the peripheral part of the nervous system may be associated with atlas conditions as per the close relationship is has with the facial nerve.
Trigeminal neuralgia Affects the trigeminal ganglion and corresponding branches casing significant pain in the areas of the face supplied by this nerve. Due to the close peripheral and central neurological relationship the jaw, upper cervical dysfunction is generally a predisposing factor for the development of trigeminal neuralgia. Acute Herpes Zoster, is an associated neurological disorder caused by an infectious trigeminal ganglion and nerve.
The TMJ biomechanical chain must be evaluated as part of the upper neck analyses as per the neurological and mechanical influences of the TMJ.
Clinical assessment of the spine and TMJ.
Anterior – Posterior (AP) and lateral X-ray views of the cervical/Jaw are essential to check the patterns of TMJ misalignment and upper neck.
Important exam to verify the level of narrowing of the nerve passage and the exact point of irritation
Rule out any other condition; There are rare disorders that may create similar patterns of dysfunction, is advisable to rule out these conditions prior to the start of the treatment.
Restore the biomechanical alignment of upper neck and TMJ
Neuromobilization techniques may be used once the direct compression of the nerve is reduced.
Specific therapeutic essential oils are applied to reduce nerve inflammation and enhance healing.
Depending on the level of nerve compromised and chronicity of the misalignment a minimum of 6 weeks up to 12 weeks of treatment care may be necessary to resolve this deformity.