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The Holy Grail

Cross section of the spinal cord.

Cross section of the spinal cord.

If there is one thing chiropractors can agree on, it is that the nervous system can be disturbed and cause negative effects on the body. There are varying theories as to the reason for this but most chiropractors conclude it is related to the bones in the vertebral column being out of alignment. The Dentate Ligament – Cord Distortion Hypothesis is just one of those theories. This is, to some chiropractors, the Holy Grail to their rational and purpose in caring for patients.

The Dentate Ligament theory follows the premise that the spinal cord is anchored to various points in the vertebral column and chronic mal-positioning of these structures could lead to torsion of the spinal cord. The torsion on the spinal cord may irritate and cause disturbances in transmission of mental signals or impulses leading to a diverse number of symptoms to appear in the person.

If the spinal cord is directly attached to the upper cervical spine, and if the vertebra were put out of alignment, would that cause interference with the nervous system?

Dr. John D. Grostic explains in his research:

This hypothesis states that misalignments of the upper cervical vertebrae, because of their unique attachment to the spinal cord by means of the dentate ligaments, can directly stress and deform the spinal cord. Subsequently, this stress on the cord, in addition to direct mechanical irritation, may produce venous occlusion with stasis of blood and resulting anoxia in particular areas of the upper cervical cord.

Venous occlusion and stasis of blood in the cranial region is something being heavily researched for it implications on neuro-degenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. This is being looked at by vascular surgeons as a possible accessory to the cause of some of these diseases.

The research identifies three “challenges” that validate the presupposition that a misaligned vertebra in the upper cervical region will cause torsion on the spinal cord rendering interference of mental impulses and demonstrating physical and/or neurological manifestations.

Challenge 1

Is the dentate ligament mechanically linked to the osseous structures of the upper cervical spine?

Challenge 2

Is the dentate ligament strong enough to deform the spinal cord?

Challenge 3

Are the osseous misalignments large enough to cause mechanical irritation to the cord?

The author relates positive findings of all three challenges, confirming the theory that the plausibility of a misalignment in the upper cervical region to cause physical and neurological disturbances in the individual.

I encourage you to read the full article to gain a better understanding of how this phenomena is explained.

Read full article

References

  • Grostic, John D. The Dentate Ligament – Cord Distortion Hypothesis Chiropractic Research Journal published 1988
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A Case For Improved Headache Evaluation

Several causes of headaches relate to the alignment of the first two bones of the neck.

Headaches, in general terms, lie on a spectrum from an occasional annoyance to debilitating and causing loss time at work and enjoying family. Headaches come in all shapes and sizes and so do the treatments. There have been studies demonstrating the effectiveness of many types of treatments.

First off, we need to agree that a normal headache does not exist. Headaches are alarms telling you that something is amiss in your body. This could be as subtle as not drinking enough water to experiencing a stroke. If you have headaches, even if they are just occasional, understand that this is not a normal function of the body.

In the study published in the “Headache: The Journal of  Head and Face Pain” on chronic headache due to hypertonic muscles that attach to the dura matter, a surgical intervention was performed to sever the muscles from the spinal cord. The article explains a normally occurring muscle in the sub-occipital region attaches to the spinal cord. The patient, 35 year old male, had a traumatic incident and subsequent tightness of this muscle putting tension and distortion on the spinal cord/brainstem and causing symptoms of a headache. It was noted that since the incident, the patient had developed a poor immune response as evidenced by the frequency of respiratory and intestinal infection.

The intervention was to surgically sever the tight muscle in hopes that this would relieve the tension and torsion on the spinal cord/brainstem and decrease the severity of the headaches. While the intervention was successful in the sense that the muscle was severed and the patient recovered from surgery, the headaches lessened only in intensity, not in frequency. Common side effects of such procedures are described as “post operative headaches”.

The patient’s complaint persists and is a failure on the part of the exam doctor to understand the anatomy and the mechanics involved. The other attachments of this muscle are on the back of the skull and the first bone in the neck – Atlas. It is very probable and likely that during the traumatic incident that the Atlas became misaligned and torqued, a condition called an upper cervical subluxation, pulling on the muscle and various other structures causing distortion of the spinal cord/brainstem. This is evidenced by several features common in an upper cervical subluxation: sudden onset of headaches following a traumatic incident, tight sub-occipital muscles due to misalignment of bone structures, decreased immune response owed to reduced communication of the brain to the body.

Various structures are affected by an upper cervical subluxation.

This is further demonstrated by a failure to only partially reduce the symptoms of a headache. The procedure eliminated one instigating agent but did not address the various other factors of an upper cervical subluxation, so the patient would not be able to fully heal. There is so much happening at this location with skeletal, ligamentous and muscular tissue not to mention the nervous tissue that carries body intelligence to every part of your body. An appropriate evaluation of this area is essential to proper treatment of upper cervical subluxation for the best patient care.

Effective upper cervical care can be accomplished and thousands of patients have been helped by removing the causative agent of many types of headaches. This is done without exposing the patient to chemical drugs, surgery, or other lengthy procedures. Not only do the symptoms subside, the effect is realized throughout the entire body improving the immense response and decreasing blood pressure in many cases. Headaches do not need to interfere with your quality of life. Check out the links on the right for other research and testimonies of patients with headaches and become informed of your treatment options.

Another popular management option that does not address the cause of the symptoms is medication. Medication may silence the symptoms, but the inciting problem persists and you can expect the symptoms to return. The liver and kidneys take the brunt of the effects of the medication and there are almost always negative events in response to these chemicals.

Again there is no such thing as a normal headache. Turning off the alarm without addressing the fire will only result in ashes.

Suspended Nerves

14 February 2012 1 comment

The organization of the body is amazing! Each muscle and ligament has an attachment to another structure and therefore is influenced by or can influence the structure. Everything is tied together and is dependent that each part functions correctly.

I think of a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The road is being suspended by hangers which are themselves suspended by cables. The cables run the length of the bridge and from tower to tower. Each tower provides an anchoring point for the cables but also the rigid structure from which the rest of the bridge can “suspend”. Imagine if one of those towers could pivot. The cables would pull taught or let loose depending on the direction of the pivot. That would cause the road to pull up on the side of increased tension and let down on the opposite. Thus the towers influence the function or dysfunction of the bridge.

There was a study done on where the origin and attachment sites are on each of the cervical nerves. I find it interesting that there are four ligaments that “suspend” each nerve as it passes though the IVF. Each of these ligaments have their own different attachment site and different movements will pull or let loose part of the spinal nerve and therefore cause temporary deformation or obstruction of the nerve. This is normal and the body can tolerate this temporary distortion well. The problem arises when there are chronic mal-positions of these nerves due to misaligned vertebra.

As upper cervical doctors, we have a special interest in the Occipital-Atlas-Axis complex. The article talks about the how the C2 spinal nerve is attached to the transverse process of Atlas. We have seen some wicked rotation films of Atlas, some exceeding 7-8 degrees. I can’t help but wonder how the tension of that ligament is affecting that spinal nerve, not to mention the spinal cord as a whole.

I am so grateful that the knowledge is available so we all can benefit from reducing the subluxation and restore the full functioning potential of the miracle that is our body.

Check out the article for your own enjoyment.

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