Is it possible that blood pressure, both too high and too low, could be affected by a misalignment in the spine? Yes, it’s possible! In fact, there are many medical conditions that are caused by vertebral misalignment.
Several studies have been done . What they concluded may surprise you.
Study Concludes Atlas Vertebra Alignment Improves High Blood Pressure
During the 8-week study, patients received only atlas/C1 adjustments. The researchers randomly chose patients in the group and corrected the misalignment in their atlas/C1 vertebra (Using the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association procedure.) At the end of the 8-week period, the patients who were adjusted saw a decrease in blood pressure (diastolic BP -10+/-11 mm Hg and systolic BP -17+/-9mm Hg) as well as a lower heart rate.
The other group received a “sham procedure”, which means that they thought they were adjusted but instead nothing was done. Those patients didn’t see a change in their heart rate or much change to their blood pressure (diastolic BP -2+/-7 mm Hg and systolic BP -3+/-11 mm Hg).
Of the two groups, patients that had their atlas/C1 adjusted saw a large reduction in their BP similar to patients that use two-drug combination therapy. Wait, did you read that right?? Yes, patients who were adjusted had a decrease in their blood pressure similar to patients who were given TWO blood pressure medications!
They Even Did the Study in Rats
Scientists have even done this study in rats. To give the rats a misalignment, they “surgically induced” a 15 degree rotation in to the atlas by partially cutting some ligaments and placing a fixture to keep the rotation. Before the study, the rats all demonstrated normal blood pressure. Then, after the forced misalignment surgery, they took the blood pressure again and found that both the diastolic BP and systolic BP had increased significantly. To follow up, the removed the fixture and aligned the atlas. The rat blood pressure returned to normal!
The Connection Atlas Adjustment and Blood Pressure
So what’s the connection between the atlas alignment and blood pressure? The answer lies in the anatomy of the bone, ligament, and nerve of the atlas/ C1 area. In this study put out by the Mayer Chiropractic Clinic and the National Institute of Health we can see on MRIs of the spinal canal that the bone and the nerve are connected by a ligament called the dentate ligament. When the vertebra moves out of alignment the attached ligament moves with it, resulting in pulling on the dura matter at the brain stem. (1,2) In fact, the ligament is so strong that it can cause significant distortion, first researched by Dr. John Grostic in the 1950s with The Dentate Ligament Cord Distortion Hypothesis. (1)
The lower part of the brain stem, the medulla, is responsible for regulating blood pressure. Interference at this level could explain the relationship between CCJ (the area made up of the atlas, axis and the base of the skull) misalignment and hypertension. In other words, when the bone moves out of alignment, it pulls on the delicate nerve tissue that creates mechanical tension into the lower brain stem- and creating a stress response of increased blood pressure.
Case Studies Show Improvement
Many case studies within the Upper Cervical Chiropractic field have demonstrated the correlation of reducing hypertension and orthostatic hypotension after specific atlas/C1 misalignment correction.
Case Study With 25-Year-Old Female
A female, age 25, presented with neuromediated hypotension. She had a history of cervicalgia. She went through 8 weeks of Atlas Orthogonality (AO) care. At the end of the treatment time, her mean pulse pressure improved. (3)
Case Study With 68-Year-Old Female
A female, age 68, with atrial fibrillation and hypertension improved her heart rate and blood pressure from Knee Chest adjustments. After 4 visits to the chiropractor, she was able to stop using her hypertensive medication. (3)
Case Study With 42 Patients
A private AO practice looked at 42 of their patients that experienced hypotension or hypertension. They measured their arterial blood pressure before starting treatments and after. The patients that experienced hypotension saw an increase of arterial blood pressure. Patients with hypertension saw a decrease in their hypertension. Both were treated with the same UC procedures. (4)
How is The Upper Cervical Alignment Achieved?
Specific films that are taken to determine the exact positioning of the skull/C1/C2. We call this the patient's "listing". If it is determined that they have a misalignment, we use the specific mathematical vectors of each patient to correct the misalignment specifically and gently. The goal is to have the adjustment "hold" in order to create an optimal neurological function, particularly at the brain stem.
Atlas Alignment: How is it done?
HealthWorks: A Family Wellness Center offers specific atlas/ C1 alignment with the gentle Grostic technique. Here is what an atlas/C1 adjustment looks like at HealthWorks: A Family Wellness Center. Most patients sit up and say, "that's it!?", because they're surprised that such a small tap can make such a big difference.
If you experience hypertension, this may be a good option for you. Give us a call at HealthWorks: A Family Wellness Center, or find an upper cervical chiropractor near you.
1. Grostic, J.D.; Dentate Ligament – cord distortion hypothesis; Chiropractic Research Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, pp 47-55, 1988. Reference
2. Eriksen, K.; Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: a Review of the Chiropractic and Medical Literature; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.
3. Hannah JSH. Changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure for a hypotensive patient receiving upper cervical specific: a case report. Chir J Aust. 2009 Sep;39(3):118–121. Reference
4. Qualls TQ, Lester CL. Resolution of atrial fibrillation & hypertension in a patient undergoing upper-cervical chiropractic care. J Upr Cerv Chiropr Res. 2012 Win;1:9–15. Reference