THE specific BLOG
THE specific BLOG
The Corona Virus Has Nothing On This
You’re sitting in your office chair. Leaned forward, perhaps working but most likely looking through your social feed. That’s when it hits you. A pain that starts at the top of your neck, makes its way down to your shoulders, and settles itself right between your shoulder blades.. Everything feels tight. Uncomfortable. You know that if you just get up and stretch, it will go away. And that may be the case. Not always, but often, yes. Simple stretching and being mindful of your posture are great ways to alleviate basic aches and pains associated with postural changes throughout your day. But let’s face it. We haven’t exactly evolved as beings made to sit all day! We were made to be able to operate in ways that allow us to move. But what if that neck pain your feeling is a warning sign that something else is going on? Something that could spell disaster for you?
These aches and pains your feeling are a minor thing. They might cause an inconvenience for you, or perhaps cause you to be less productive, but overall they are manageable. But long term exposure to these daily practices causes something else to happen deep within your body. As in on a neurological level. Something that can affect you FAR more than some pain. Let’s take these next few minutes to discuss exactly what is going on and how it can alter your life forever.
Getting on my nerves
Do you know what nerves are? I mean really know on the most basic level. Let me explain. Nerves are small wire-like groups of neurological tissue that connect your brain to every tissue in your body. Signals flow through them in a cascade of electrical activity that controls everything from your breathing to muscle movements, your heartbeat and digestion down to the very actions of your blood.It is imperative that synchronized actions of these nerves take place on a second to second basis to ensure you remain functioning.
Larger groupings of these nerves are known as nuclei and they are found all throughout the central nervous system, or your brain, brain stem, and spinal cord. They are essentially processing centers for activity occurring within the body and are super important to your continued survival. You can really think of the brain itself as groupings of nuclei not neatly partitioned into sections, but all mixed together. The view of the brain we are accustomed to is a visual representation to better explain what we understand of its function.
Your central nervous system has three distinct parts that are VERY well protected. Your brain, which is protected by your skull, your brain stem, which is protected by both the bottom portion of your skull as well as the top two bones of your spine (The Atlas and Axis bones), and your spinal cord, which is protected by the rest of the bones in your spine. This protection comes in the form of bone encasing the entire thing, which speaks to just how important the nervous system is.
Heads up: You really must get your nervous system checked for function, which is what we do in my office. Schedule with me directly by heading over to The Specific
I am going to focus this next section on the function and importance of the central nervous system and brain stem itself in your everyday life.
The Stem of the Issue
The stem of your brain houses some of the most important nuclei in your body. The brain stem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and it alsocontrols basic body functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and whether one is awake or sleepy. This is done from its close relationship with a portion of your nervous system known as your autonomic nervous system. This particular system is broken down into 3 parts, two of which we will closely focus on. These three main parts are your sympathetic or your fight/flight system, your parasympathetic, or your rest/digest system, and your enteric system. Let’s talk about the first two.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic system work opposite each other. Think of the sympathetic as the gas pedal, and the parasympathetic as the brake. As we go through a typical day and are put under various types of stress, the sympathetic system will cause the release of stress hormones, will cause an increase in your heart rate, speed up your breathing, and decrease your digestive processes. It will also deplete energy stores within your body. The Parasympathetic system does, in most basic form, the opposite. It slows your heart rate and breathing, increases digestion, and helps to
restore your energy reserves.
Now let’s really think about this. Our various actions throughout our lives contribute to the activation of each of these systems. So with that in mind, let me ask you this: When did you last check your vitals to see what your resting heart rate is, your average breaths per minute, or your blood pressure? These are all decent ways to keep check on how your system is functioning. Your nervous system needs to be in a continuous state of harmony in order for you to function properly. When one side or the other (most often it is the sympathetic side) is over activated, it is noted as dysautonomia, or dysfunction within that system that ultimately manifests as various symptoms. The thing I want to look further into on this however is brought to light in the book Brainstem and Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction: A Neurosurgical Point of View, where it is states, “Central autonomic control nuclei and pathways are mainly integrated within the brainstem, especially in the medulla oblongata. Lesions within these structures can lead to central dysautonomia.”
So what we see is that when the function of the brain stem is altered, all of the areas that we previously mentioned may be affected. For you, this could mean heart issues, breathing issues, digestive issues, fatigue, and more. So where does this information link in with your neck pain? THAT is the right question, and one that takes just a bit more information. So bear with me.
The Small Muscle Discovery
The way that the muscles in our body work is this: Each muscle connects one bone to another, and typically crosses a joint in order for those bones to move upon each other in such a way that produces the desired movement of the body. The brain and muscles communicate via the nerves through small receptors within the muscles known as mechanoreceptors. These small receptors, which are located within joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin are responsible for taking tactile stimuli and converting it into an electrical signal to be sent to the brain. These signals are always letting your brain know what’s going on in terms of muscle position and for the most part, that is not a harmful thing. But what happens when those signals become overwhelming, and what is the outcome? We’re almost there!
Now, we all know the “glamor” muscles. The biceps, pecs, abs, glutes and so forth. However the muscles of the body that are paid less attention to are perhaps the most important: The grouping of muscles that make up what is known as your Sub-Occipital Triangle. These are the muscles that connect your skull, your Atlas (the first bone in your neck), and your Axis (The second bone in your neck). This small grouping of muscles has 80% more mechanoreceptors per square centimeter THAN YOUR GLUTES! THAT IS A TON OF INFORMATION PACKED INTO A SMALL AREA BEING SENT TO THE BRAIN.
Wait…….remember when I said what structure is located right at this junction? And remember what I said happens when this structure is not functioning properly? THAT is the key to all of this. When the mechanoreceptors located within your upper neck are continuously bombarding your brain stem with signals, it becomes overwhelmed, leading to interference in the nervous system itself and as we have already mentioned, that’s not a good thing.
Malalignment of the top two bones in the neck, or the Upper Cervical Complex leads to mixed signals coming from all of the mechanoreceptors in the area. This leads to something we like to call Dysafferentation, and results in both HYPERactivity as well as HYPOactivity of various body systems. THIS DOES INCLUDE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, so if you are someone that suffers from an autoimmune condition, you NEED to have your upper cervical complex checked by a professional that works exclusively with this area!
Let’s take a quick second while I share how this school of thought changed two lives
One of the first patients I ever had once I had been training with a concentration on the brain stem was my wife. She suffered from something known as Paroxysmal atrial fibrillations, which simply means that her heart would go haywire at random times, losing rhythm. Her heart rate would jump to unsafe levels, she would go clammy and pass out. The first time it happened was while she was pregnant with our daughter and was one of the scariest moments of our lives. We were given no solid options on treatment and were left clueless as to how to get it under control. It was around that time I began training on Upper Cervical care with a group known as The Art of the Specific. Once we felt confident enough, we started my wife under this type of care. We had scans of her nervous system done, x rays of her upper cervical spine taken, and she had her first adjustment. It was unlike anything she, or I, had experienced. She described it as a euphoric feeling. She said she felt her face flush as proper blood flow was restored to her brain. Her hands didn’t feel tight anymore. Her heart rate normalized. Over her course of care, her heart condition disappeared completely. She was able to begin to add in complementary activities such as Yoga and hiking. I had my wife back, and she had her life back.
THIS IS IT.
So those pains you feel in your neck? They could be a sign of something worse, they could be your body telling you you need to get checked. They just might be an accessory to a larger problem.
So now is your chance to seize the opportunity. This is something that works. This is something that benefits people everyday. As one of my patients put it “the only reason someone wouldn’t explore this type of care is that they don’t want to get better”. You owe it to yourself to come in, sit down, and discuss your health problems. You are literally losing time each second you don’t schedule. Do it by clicking right here.