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The History of Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Before you make an appointment to have your upper cervical spine assessed it is important that you understand the importance of this part of your spine and how it relates to overall health.

These four essential facts summarize the importance of upper cervical chiropractic care;

  1. The brain and nervous system controls and co-ordinates every message to the different cells within our body including those that contribute towards health and healing
  2. The upper cervical vertebrae – the atlas and axis – directly affect the spinal cord, some cranial nerves and the control centres of the brain
  3. When the atlas and axis lose their correct alignment, the brain cannot communicate properly with the rest of the body. As a consequence of this, many different health conditions may begin to develop
  4. Upper cervical care is a specialised method of treatment which corrects misalignments of the atlas and axis, thus restoring the body’s ideal function and state of health.

 The atlas vertebrae is named after the Greek god who held the weight of the world on his shoulders. The human head can weigh around 5kgs and it is the job of the atlas and cervical spine to support the head whilst also protecting the delicate nerves and spinal cord.­

The correct alignment of the upper cervical region is for the spine to be straight and the atlas perfectly horizontal with no rotation. This is known as the orthogonal positon, it is an engineering term meaning at 90 degrees. In this position the skull is correctly supported and the brain, spinal cord, and nerves are allowed to function unimpeded.

Even back in the 1920’s the forefathers of modern chiropractic recognized that the upper cervical region and any misalignments could have devastating effects. You only need to consider the often catastrophic results that arise from neck fractures and damage to the spinal cord.

In the 1940’s and 50’s more chiropractors were becoming aware of the power that correcting upper cervical misalignments could have for their patients. Dr Roy Sweat was one such chiropractor, through the work of other chiropractors such as Dr Grostic, Dr Sweat developed an X-ray analysis and series of films to quantify the atlas misalignment. He also invented the instrument to deliver the adjustment as many of the earlier upper cervical chiropractors were using their hand to adjust the atlas.

It is these procedures and protocols that are still used today in Atlas Orthogonal clinics around the world. The next step in the evolution in upper cervical chiropractic is advanced imaging such as upright MRI to carry out Cerebro-spinal Fluid (CSF) flow studies which can identify blockages in the CSF flow due to atlas misalignments. These upright MRI studies can also give a better overall image of the upper cervical region and how it’s affecting the spinal cord and nerves.

The only upright MRI scanner is located in Blacktown, for referrals please enquire with Dr Clegg.

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