Migraines are a debilitating neurological condition that is often related to the alignment of the upper neck. After considering the vital role that the upper cervical spine plays, the reason for this connection becomes clearer.
What the Cervical Spine Does
To understand migraines better, know that there are three primary roles fulfilled by the upper bones of the neck.
- Protecting the Brainstem and Spinal Cord – The brainstem is protected by the C1 vertebra right at the point where it meets the spinal cord. Subsequent bones in the neck protect the spinal cord itself.
- Support for the Head – A human head weighs 10 to 13 pounds. The upper cervical spine keeps the head properly balanced and allows the head to turn from side to side as well as forward and back.
- Allowing for Blood Flow – The vertebral arteries provide the brain with vital oxygen by facilitating blood flow. The upper cervical spine provides the openings for this flow of blood.
So what happens when a misalignment occurs here? Pressure may be placed on the brainstem or spinal cord. The head may become off-balanced. The righting reflex kicks in to level things out, thus causing shifts in bone, muscle, and soft tissue throughout the spine. Blood flow to the brain may be restricted.
Any of the above conditions can lead to migraines.
Migraines and Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Because the top bones of the neck are designed to provide extra mobility for the head, they are also subject to misalignment. A head or neck injury, even a seemingly minor one, can be the underlying cause. Car accidents, sports injuries, and every day falls are often the culprit. Before long, migraines begin to set in.
Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on identifying and correcting these specific alignments in the upper cervical spine. Gentle adjustments give the body time to heal the affected nerves and soft tissue. As a result, many find that migraines occur less frequently and become less severe. They may even go away altogether.