Upper Cervical spine and ear function
Ear pain, also known as earache, can occur in either one ear or both sides of the ear and may happen suddenly or develop slowly over time. No matter the case, a lot of ear pain can be caused by a problem associated with the upper cervical spine.
Most people think of chiropractors when they experience back pain or neck pain; however, an upper cervical chiropractor focuses on the upper cervical spine (your neck area) to ensure the top bones of your spine are aligned appropriately to support proper brain stem function. In addition, the upper cervical area can cause discomfort to your ears or cause disruption to your hearing if a misalignment is present.
How Does the Upper Cervical Spine Support Ear Function?
Ear pain can be more than just an ache. Those with ear pain can experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ear fullness, vertigo, sensitivity to sound, and loss of hearing. Many problems within the ear, such as Eustachian tube dysfunction, for example, can be caused by an upper cervical misalignment.
The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx (the upper throat and back of the nasal cavity) and balances the pressure within the inner ear. When someone has eustachian tube dysfunction, they can experience ear pain, reduced hearing, muffled hearing, tinnitus, problems with balance, or a feeling of fullness within the ear.
The eustachian tube has three main functions: ventilate the middle ear, protect the middle ear from pathogens, and help drain secretions. When these functions cannot be performed properly, it is called eustachian tube dysfunction.
A misalignment to the upper cervical spine could cause changes in the soft tissue that affect your eustachian tubes and make it difficult for your ears to drain properly. In addition, pressure on the surrounding nerves can cause more ear pain to occur.
Located at the base of the skull is the top bone of the spine, known as the atlas. The atlas is located almost directly between the ears and can have an effect on their functions even with the slightest misalignment. An upper cervical misalignment may not only apply pressure on the eustachian tube or surrounding nerves, but it can also cause inflammation to the area and lead to a gradual formation of a lesion on the eustachian tube.
An upper cervical misalignment could be from an injury or poor posture habits. Depending on how the misalignment occurs, the onset of ear pain can be either sudden or gradual.
How Do Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustments Help Ear Pain?
Upper cervical chiropractic adjustments are gentle, precise, and safe for any age. Unlike general chiropractic, there is no cracking or “popping” involved. Small movements are made to adjust the upper cervical area of your spine to improve proper brain stem function.
The brain stem controls many of the body’s natural functions such as breathing, blood flow, blood pressure, and healing abilities during sickness or injury.
Ear pain is a signal your body lets out to let you know something is not right – something within the body is causing the ear pain to occur. In order to help correct the cause of the ear pain, the brain needs to be able to interpret the signals the body sends and help it respond accurately.
When an upper cervical misalignment is present, the bone can place pressure onto the brain stem and cause the signals being sent back and forth from the brain to the body to become inaccurate (or not be sent at all). In some cases, the body could harm itself due to the brain stem not functioning properly and signals being misinterpreted.
After an upper cervical adjustment, the pressure is taken off the brain stem and the nerves; it is at this time signals begin to be sent back and forth for the body to begin the repair and healing process immediately.
The amount of adjustments needed to correct a misalignment varies from patient to patient and depends on the severity of the misalignment and how long it has been in that state. However, because a proper adjustment improves the brain stem function, patients have noticed improvements in their condition in as little as one adjustment.
The goal of the upper cervical chiropractor is to adjust the patient as little as possible until the body is capable of holding the alignment correctly without outside help.
Over time, the soft tissue surrounding the upper cervical spine will strengthen to the best of its ability to hold the alignment itself. A proper alignment will also help release tension that occurs within the muscles that surround the ear, neck, and shoulder area.
Patients who have had surgery or used medication for ear pain still reported having significant improvements with upper cervical adjustments. This is because of surgery and medication work by targeting the symptom: pain.
What causes this ear pain is not the primary focus for surgery or medication; the focus of surgery and medication is to reduce ear pain by altering how the body functions and responds to it while the cause of the pain will usually stay unaltered. The body already has natural abilities to heal and repair complications if given the right support: healthy brain stem function.
If you or a loved one is experiencing ear pain and are looking for a natural treatment or have found no ideal relief from surgery or medication, upper cervical adjustments may be exactly what your body needs to help begin its healing and repairing process.