Consequences to Upper Cervical Malformations and Misalignments

Serious stuff today, you may only want to read this if you are ready to concentrate and know more about the Upper Cervical Spine and what consequences misalignments might have.


As many chiropractors and other health professionals I’m sure will back me up with, there is this thing that happens where we seem to go through themes with new clients from time to time. All clients with one specific problem will suddenly decide to call in at the same time. So my theme of the month has been upper cervical problems, so why not get into some detail about these problems, what causes them and what can be certain consequences associated to them and why the upper cervical area is one of the most important areas of the spine to have regularly checked.


While I was studying the upper cervical technique with a few of my classmates at uni, I was in charge of going through all of the research behind this area and the chiropractic techniques associated to it and I found one really good paper at giving an overview. This paper was written by Michael F. Flanagan and you can find it in the references if you’d like to read through it, but let me give you a very summarised summary:

Some terms:

In this blog we will be using the term cranio-cervical junction to identify that area of the spine comprised of the two top vertebrae C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) – if you’ve been in our clinic you’ll see a statue of these two bones in our waiting room -, the base of the skull and the muscles and connective tissues that connect the skull and the cervical spine. Some of these connective tissues also include what we call the Dura Mater – a membrane that basically wraps around the spinal cord, brainstem and brain – and the extensions of this membrane (dentate ligaments) that attach it to different points of the skull and spine.

So why is it important?

It is important to understand that the cranio-cervical junction serves as a crucial link between the vascular and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF: a substance that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, it protects it, provides nutrients and removes toxins from the central nervous system) in the cranial vault and spinal canal. The delicate relationship between blood and cerebrospinal fluid volume, exerted pressure and flow determine craniospinal hydrodynamics.


Anatomical malformations are of no exception, as much as we would all like to be symmetrical, that is not the case and they are very largely present in the structure of the upper cervical bones. These malformations as well as misalignments of the cranio-cervical junction cause deformation and obstruction of blood and CSF pathways between the skull and spine, this can result in faulty hydrodynamics and subsequent neurological and neurodegenerative disorders.


To put it simply…


Your brain and spinal cord require constant blood and CSF flow, and this flow is controlled by several things including the pulse of the arteries, respiration, body movements and upright posture. The pressure exerted by these factors allows the inflow and the outflow of blood and CSF. If the flow is obstructed by a malformation or misalignment in the cranio-cervical junction there is going to be a change in pressure around the brain and spinal cord, if the lack of arterial supply is significant this might even lead to death of brain cells. As you can imagine this can have many different consequences.

What are the consequences?

Faulty function of this pressure change is thought to play a role in

  • neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, multiple sclerosis, dementia and motor neuron disease.
  • migraines, silent-strokes, seizures, psychosis and depression.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic

There are specific chiropractic techniques that allow us to identify and correct these misalignments to ensure that we can re-establish the natural pressure, flow and volume of blood and CSF to the cranial vault. If you think you, or anyone you know could benefit from reading this blog to have a better understanding of their problems, or who simply want to maintain their upper cervical health and potentially prevent neurodegenerative conditions, send them this link or book a consultation here.


Hope that wasn’t too overwhelming ;)


Ciao for now,




  • Flanagan, M.F., 2015. The Role of the Craniocervical Junction in Craniospinal Hydrodynamics and Neurodegenerative Conditions. Neurology Research International.