Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in treating a specific set of vertebrae in the spine–the cervical spine. This part of the spine affects your upper neck, providing stability and support for the rest of your shoulders and back. Keeping this part of your spine aligned is also essential for migraines and headaches.

Many patients suffer from cervical spine issues without identifying them on their own and only get down to the root of their pain when visiting an experienced upper cervical chiropractor. Signs that you may need to see a chiropractor for the care of your cervical spine include neck pain and pain in the head, jaw, and extremities. Patients also report tingling, weakness, and numbness in the affected areas.

Even more severe problems that can accompany cervical spine issues can include difficulty balancing and breathing, as well as irregularities regarding bowel and bladder function. Since the symptoms and areas of pain vary greatly, the thought of seeing an upper cervical spine chiropractor may not initially come to mind.

At ChiroCare of Florida, we have experienced cervical spine treatment providers on staff to help correctly identify the root cause of your pain and develop a customized treatment plan to meet your needs. Misalignments in this area can be debilitating and negatively impact your quality of life, but treatment is available. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Keep reading to learn more about upper cervical spine care, what cervical chiropractors do, how treatment can help ease your symptoms, the course of treatment, and more.

Table of Contents

What Is Upper Cervical Care

Upper cervical care relates to adequately aligning the first two vertebrae at the top of your neck (vertebrae C1 and C2). These are two vertebrae in your cervical spinal column, which includes C1-C7. These first two vertebrae, C1 and C2, are deeply connected to your central nervous system, including your brain and the rest of your spinal cord. You may also hear these two vertebrae referred to as the Axel and the Axis at the top of your neck.

A subluxation or misalignment in these two bones can lead to a wide variety of pain and complications. These bones help balance your head and skull and play a crucial role in the mobility of your neck. Additionally, a misalignment in this area can negatively impact blood flow through the brain stem, which can cause more of the most severe complications mentioned above.

By properly caring for and addressing any issues in the upper cervical spine, you can significantly improve many symptoms and pain, enabling you to find relief and a better quality of life.

What Does an Upper Cervical Chiropractor Do?

First, an upper cervical spine chiropractor will evaluate your pain and main symptom complaints. They may perform a physical evaluation and review your medical history to discuss any injuries or trauma to the area. Additionally, imaging such as X-rays or MRIs may be required to identify that it is C1 and C2 causing the issues. This is to give your chiropractor the best possible view of the area, though it may only sometimes be necessary.

Or, you may be referred to a chiropractor by a specialist or primary care physician following an accident, injury, or initial visit once they identify that misalignment or subluxation may cause your symptoms and pain.

Chiropractic adjustments are often the first line of defense when treating issues stemming from the upper neck. Properly aligning these top two vertebrae can help relieve nerve pain and inflammation, helping you feel better.

Manual adjustments are often how upper cervical chiropractors use their hands to carefully manipulate your head, neck, and shoulders to set the bones in their correct position. These adjustments are usually associated with the “cracking” or “popping” sound you hear at the chiropractor. Alternatively, your provider may determine that “gentle chiropractic care” is best for this area. The procedure consists of slow, light, and gentle movements that do not produce the cracking or popping sound associated with traditional alignments.

You’ll likely need a series of appointments to best treat these misalignments in C1 and C2. At first, patients may visit the office several times a week, and as the condition improves, drop down to fewer and fewer visits spaced out over time. For others with chronic instability or injuries, ongoing treatment may be necessary for pain management and maintenance.

Can a Chiropractor Help with Upper Cervical Instability?

The answer is yes! Upper cervical chiropractors can help treat instability in this neck region. In fact, chiropractic care is often the leading treatment method for this issue. Not only can they perform manipulations of the spine, but they can offer complementary services that may help reduce pain too.

For example, many patients undergo massage therapy, instrument-assisted therapy, ultrasound therapy, hot and cold treatment methods, and more. Your chiropractor may also recommend that you participate in physical therapy and provide you with exercises to complete at home between appointments.

How Long Does It Take an Upper Cervical Chiropractor to Work?

Chiropractic treatments, such as those addressing the upper cervical spine, may be short-term or long-term therapies. Many patients report at least some level of relief after just one session. However, you’ll likely require several appointments to see the full results.

Over time, most patients will experience a significant improvement in symptoms in about three weeks. For those struggling with migraines, back pain, and other ailments, this can be a life-changing experience. The pain you once thought was here to stay can resolve with the right treatment plan.

When You Need Upper Cervical Care

If you notice any symptoms related to a misalignment in the upper cervical spine, speak with your medical provider today. However, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of your current treating physician to rule out any other medical issues that can be causing your pain. This is especially important if you experience numbness, weakness, and problems with balance or breathing. These can result from severe conditions for which chiropractic care may not be appropriate.

Otherwise, upper cervical care can benefit those experiencing upper neck and back pain, migraines and headaches, stiffness or lack of motion in the neck and shoulders, or a general feeling of aches and tension in the back and neck. Sometimes, pain in other areas of the spine may be related to the C1 and C2 vertebrae.

Benefits of Upper Cervical Care

Seeing an upper cervical chiropractor can help improve a wide variety of conditions, providing relief to many. Benefits you may see from treating C1, and C2 misalignments include:

  • Chronic pain in the neck, back, shoulders, and more
  • Effective headache and migraine treatment
  • Relief from TMJ symptoms
  • Feeling less stress and tension
  • Improvements in mood, mental health, and quality of life
  • Better control over hypertension
  • Pain resulting from chronic conditions such as Fibromyalgia
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Relief from vertigo
  • Relief from tinnitus
  • And more

Additionally, many patients report that the holistic and non-invasive approach to treatment with chiropractic care is a bonus. You won’t risk post-surgical complications or infection, and there’s no downtime associated with treating upper cervical subluxations.

Chiropractic care can have substantial benefits to serious pain, without ever having to undergo the knife or seek extreme treatments. It’s generally proven to be safe and effective, though speak with your doctor should you have any additional concerns.

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With many locations throughout South Florida, extended evening hours, and weekend appointments available upon request, we make it easy to seek treatment at ChiroCare of Florida. Our chiropractors are experienced in treating an extensive range of symptoms and conditions and will help develop a plan you need to start living pain-free.