Chronic neck pain and the upper cervical spine
Living with chronic neck pain has a detrimental effect on one’s quality of life. Most patients suffering from chronic pain are impacted not only physically but also psychologically. According to a study by the Academy of Pain Management, chronic pain impacts an individual’s overall enjoyment of life and can lead to depression, trouble concentrating, reduced energy and an inability to sleep.
When pain syndromes originate in the cervical (neck) spine, there can be a number of associated symptoms. Neck pain patients often report experiencing pain in the back of the head and neck, difficulty turning the head side-to-side, nerve pain and/or numbness and tingling down the arms, headaches, jaw pain, cognitive fog, dizziness, muscle fatigue and pain extending from the neck into the shoulders and upper back.
Many chronic neck pain sufferers are unaware of the importance of the alignment of the upper cervical vertebrae (the top two vertebrae) in the neck, directly underneath the head. These top vertebrae are chiefly responsible for the rotation and flexibility of the head and neck and are susceptible to injury through trauma and overuse.
The upper cervical area of the spine refers to the two vertebrae located at the top of the spine, directly underneath the head. C1 (known as Atlas) along with C2 (known as Axis) are chiefly responsible for the rotation and flexibility of the head and neck.
In order to determine whether you have sustained a misalignment of your head and neck, you can undergo an evaluation with a chiropractor specializing in the upper cervical (neck) spine. This rare specialty, known as upper cervical care, utilizes two diagnostic tools – thermal imaging and digital X-rays – to accurately assess the alignment of your head and neck. Each patient’s injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially designed knee chest table. Many patients notice improvement in symptoms with just a few treatments.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has maintained a practice on Maui for the past three years. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.