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Upper Cervical Treatment and Dysautonomia

Dysautonomia is an umbrella term used to describe several different medical conditions that cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System controls the "automatic" functions of the body that we do not consciously think about, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, dilation and constriction of the pupils of the eye, kidney function, and temperature control. 

When the autonomic nervous system is not functioning correctly, the body has a hard time balancing the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) portion of your autonomic nervous nervous system. This can cause systemic chaos throughout the body and explains why the symptoms of dysautonomia can be so intense and vary significantly from individual.  


The exact cause of dysautonomia is unknown but it is probable that the cause is multifactorial and is different from case to case.


However, one of the most likely causes is dysfunction of the vagus nerve which is a key part to controlling the parasympathetic nervous system. As you can see on the image, the vagus nerve approximates very closely to the C1 and C2 (upper cervical spine) as it exits the skull. The theory is that, if there is a misalignment in the upper neck, that it can potentially comprimise the vagus nerve. This would explain why upper cervical doctors have such great success in treating patients with dysautonomia/POTS

Vagus Nerve Compression in the Neck

There are around 15 types of dysautonomia with the most common being neurocardiogenic syncope, which leads to fainting and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). 

Common symptoms of dysautonomia include:

  • An inability to stay upright

  • Dizziness, vertigo, and fainting

  • Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat

  • Low blood pressure

  • Problems with the gastrointestinal system

  • "Brain Fog"

  • Disturbances in the visual field

  • Weakness

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue and intolerance to exercise

  • Migraines

  • Tremors

  • Disrupted sleep pattern

  • Heart palpitations

How Our Chiropractors Can Help

While Dysautonomia can have various complexities from case to case. We have had success with patients suffering from this potentially debilitating condition. 

Due to the proximity of the upper cervical spine to the autonomic processing portion of the brain stem/spinal cord as well as the vagus nerve, an upper cervical misalignment can cause these signals to become distorted and affect the way that your brain/body perceives information. The upper cervical region is also a choking point for fluid flow to and from the brain which can have a significant impact on some of the conditions listed above. 

Pierce Upper Cervical Chiropractic uses a revolutionary healthcare procedure that focuses on the Upper Cervical Spine. This procedure identifies subtle misalignments of the top vertebrae in the neck and corrects them using a light-force instrument adjustment.

I absolutely love Pierce Upper Cervical. Dr. Culig was very knowledgeable about my rare condition, POTS, and helped me with my cervical instability. When I first started going I had really bad migraines and now they are gone! 10/10 recommend for all of your back / neck problems.

Chloe W.

I recently was diagnosed with cervical dysautonomia and suffer a wide range of symptoms such as near passing out, black outs, spasms and twitching, breathing issues, dizziness, chest pain (costochondritis/ sternum related) because of it. I have seen upwards of 10 doctors and a naturopath without much improvement and Dr. Culig has created a super personalized plan that truly focuses on whatever issue I am having that week. It’s not just upper cervical adjustments, it’s muscle work, putting ribs back into place, etc. He truly cares about his patients and you can tell he’s super passionate about what he is doing. He really is a modern day healer- I had chronic eye twitching nearly every day for two years, he fixed it. My breathing issues, black outs, and costochondritis have greatly improved and I feel like I’m finally getting my life back.

Caroline C

This practice is so current and up to speed on clinical care for complex health conditions that I have had really good experiences with their cautious informed approach. I can’t recommend them highly enough. This is THE place to go for excellent chiropractic care, particularly those of us with chronic conditions that need special management such as dysautonomia.

Melissa B.

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