Critical Junction: The Head and Neck

Dr. Anderson

By: Dr. Craig Anderson

Published 1/8/2018 – Original Article


Have you ever just felt off?

Something is not right, but you can’t put your finger on it. Maybe you feel tired, or mentally foggy. You know you’re not on your game but your doctors says you are in perfect health.

Let me introduce to you a critically important part of your body; it’s not part of most regular physicals, yet it’s an important component to healthy living. It’s a part of the neck just below your skull called the suboccipital area.

Aside from the obvious functions, like attaching your skull to your spine and allowing your head to move, your upper neck sends vital neurological information to the brain to;

  • Regulate blood pressure and blood flow
  • Work as a gyroscope for your nervous system
  • Maintain thinking pathways and alertness
  • Coordinate head movement and eye movement
  • And much more.

If the upper cervical spine is not working properly you simply aren’t going to be at your best.

The skull sits on the highest vertebra, a ring-like bone called the atlas, named after the Greek god who holds up the globe. This bone has 5 attachment sites for other bones, creating joints that send mission-critical information to the cerebellum (a part of the brain behind the ear that controls movement, among other things.)  This collection of joints and muscles is called the suboccipital area.

The second bone is called the axis.  This ring-like bone acts as a pivot point for the head to rotate.  Ligaments are strategically placed to prevent too much movement. These ligaments are stretched when we look down too long, like when staring at a phone or iPad for an extended period.  These ligaments are essential keep your head on straight and are capable of holding a tremendous amount of weight.

This entire area is hardwired into the eyes, synchronizing the movement of your skull with your eyes. It’s quite an amazing orchestration of design and functionality. All this amazingness comes at a cost.  When we abuse this area we can end up with regular headaches, foggy thinking, TMJ problems and dizziness.

This month in my office we are celebrating Cervical Spine Awareness month.  Each week you will find an article from me as well as supporting podcasts.  To top it off I’ll be hosting a seminar in my office on the cervical spine.  The topic is specifically on dizziness but the entire neck will to reviewed and it will be informative for anyone to attend.  

If you have any questions comment on this Facebook post.

Listen to my podcast on this very topic here.

-Dr. A

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