Children experience different health concerns from adults. However, some issues that arise in childhood can be outgrown while others continue to get worse into adulthood. Upper cervical issues can contribute to many of these chronic health issues. We’re going to discuss how upper cervical misalignments occur, what conditions they can contribute to, and how upper cervical chiropractic is a safe way to care for children’s health.
How Do Upper Cervical Misalignments Occur?
The upper cervical spine is made up of the top two bones of the neck, located at the base of the skull. The C1 and C2 vertebrae, also called the atlas and axis, are responsible for many important bodily functions, such as protecting the brainstem and supporting proper blood flow to the brain. How may a misalignment occur in this sensitive part of the body?
- Birth – When an infant comes into the world, even during natural childbirth, pressure can be put on the neck and head, resulting in a misalignment. The risks are compounded when there are complications that result in a difficult childbirth or if instruments are used to help extract the baby from the birthing canal.
- Trauma – Kids will be kids, and that can mean injuries around the house or on the playground. While kids are pretty resilient, an underlying misalignment could occur and lead to future issues. Thus, it is important to have the upper cervical spine checked following any sort of head or neck trauma, even if your child doesn’t seem to have any neck pain.
- Sports Injuries – Kids love to play sports in school, and they don’t want to be benched for a minor injury. However, it is important to examine the upper cervical spine when a head or neck injury occurs, especially in a contact sport.
- Car Accidents – A car accident can be jarring on the neck of an adult, so imagine how it would be for a young child. Even if whiplash is not diagnosed, a misalignment can occur during an accident at as little as 5 mph.
- Assault – If a child is a victim of a physical assault (whether at the hands of another child or an adult) a misalignment in the neck can occur.
What Conditions Are Related to the Upper Cervical Spine?
The upper cervical spine is in a prime location to affect the following parts of the body:
- Brainstem – Instead of protecting the brainstem, a misaligned atlas can apply pressure and affect brainstem function.
- Blood flow – A misalignment can reduce blood flow to the brain as the cervical vertebrae are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood to the brain through loops of bone called the vertebral foramen.
- Intracranial pressure – A misalignment of the upper cervical spine can inhibit proper drainage of cerebral spinal fluid. This, in turn, can result in increased intracranial pressure.
- Ear function – Because the atlas is so close to the ears, a misalignment can affect how the ears drain. This, in turn, can lead to issues such as chronic ear infections or problems with dizziness.
There are numerous physiological and neurological conditions that are related to consequences of an upper cervical misalignment. Everything from migraines to acid reflux can relate to these changes in brainstem function, blood flow to the brain, and other complications.
How to Relieve Upper Cervical Misalignments Safely
You may have been to a chiropractor yourself and decided that the popping and twisting are not for your child, especially if he or she is still an infant. However, there is a chiropractic subspecialty called upper cervical chiropractic that offers gentle adjustments of the C1 and C2. Here are a few things you should know about upper cervical chiropractic care:
- Precise – Upper cervical misalignments may be measured in fractions of a millimeter or hundredths of a degree. This allows for a very precise and gentle adjustment.
- Gentle – Low force corrections are administered by hand or with an adjusting instrument. These adjustments are gentle enough for all members of a household, from infants to the very elderly.
- As-Needed – Upper cervical chiropractic offers as-needed care, so you don’t have to worry about your child getting a weekly adjustment if it is not needed. An examination is always performed prior to an adjustment to determine if the atlas is out of alignment.
Because upper cervical care is non-invasive and there is no pain associated with the adjustments, parents can rest assured that their children are receiving the best care without the risk of injury. While upper cervical care often uses diagnostic imaging techniques to pinpoint misalignments, a physical examination is also part of the adjusting process, and your chiropractor won’t use imaging techniques that are not safe for your child or that you are not comfortable with.
To learn more about how upper cervical chiropractic can be beneficial for the health of your entire family, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with a practitioner in your area. This will allow you to discuss the patient ages that your local practitioner is comfortable working with. You can also determine the best form of examination for your child and the potential benefits that your kids may see after receiving care.
This website can help you to find a local doctor who specializes in upper cervical chiropractic care. Your no-obligation consultation may be the first step down the path to better overall health for your children and the rest of your family.