Neurodegenerative Diseases: Is the CranioCervical Junction The Missing Piece?

By Dr. Bryant Harris
Neurodegenerative Diseases: Is the CranioCervical Junction The Missing Piece?

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis are some of the most costly and critically important health care issues of the day.

Unfortunately, as of right now, these conditions currently do not have a cure.See, these diseases may not lead to an early death; but, they have a devastating impact on a person's quality of life.

Exercising...Writing...Typing...Playing a musical instrument...Can become an arduous task.

In some cases your ability to see or go for a walk are taken away.For those affected, they are looking for a bit of hope, for anything that can help make their lives just a little bit better.

Luckily, research that is released is showing that the craniocervical junction (CCJ) is a potential choke point for craniospinal hydrodynamics and may play a causative or contributory role in the pathogenesis and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.Woohoo!!  

But what does that mean...Let's try and break it down a bit.

Craniocervical Junction & Craniospinal Hydrodynamics

The CCJ is made up of the base of the skull, the atlas (C1), and axis (C2), in addition to the muscles and connective tissues that connect the skull to the cervical spine.

Now, Craniospinal hydrodynamics is the relationship between blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume, pressure, and flow in the skull and spinal canal.

To bring it together , the CCJ links the vascular (blood vessels - arteries and veins) and CSF in the skull to those in the spinal canal.

Now, let's bring it back full circle as to why I'm discussing this...It has been seen that malformations and misalignments of the CCJ (aka Atlas Displacement Complex) cause deformation and obstruction of blood and CSF pathways and flow between the skull and spinal canal that can result in faulty craniospinal hydrodynamics (read venous insufficiency - decreased blood flow from veins) and subsequent neurological and neurodegenerative disorders.


How Chiropractic Can Affect Neurodegenerative Disorders

For chiropractors, that focus specifically on the Upper Cervical spine, this could provide the rationale on how we are affecting the lives of these patients.

When the structural alignment of the head and neck are compromised, it can alter the functionality of the small veins within the head (those responsible for draining the used blood from the nerve system).

When a chronic misalignment is present, the used blood (in conjunction with CSF) gets sluggish and backed up and begin to create damage to these sensitive nerve cells.

Thus, the health of the upper cervical spine is critically important to both blood and CSF flow and that makes it important to overall health.  It is especially important to the health of the brain and cord.With all that being said, there are no guarantees in a resolutions or improvements in the symptoms (for neurodegenerative disorders are complex).

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