The Link Between Upper Neck Health and High Blood Pressure

Understanding the Connection

Atlas Alignment and High Blood Pressure

Research shows a link with upper neck alignment (atlas vertebra) and autonomic imbalances that can contribute toward high blood pressure. Clear Chiropractic is an upper cervical specialist practice in Spokane, Washington that is a natural choice in healthcare without twisting, stretching or cracking.

When discussing high blood pressure, or hypertension, most people focus on lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and hormone balance. While these factors are undeniably significant, recent research suggests that the health of your cervical spine, or neck, may also play a crucial role in regulating blood pressure. This blog explores how the upper neck can contribute to high blood pressure and offers insights into a novel approach to managing this condition.

The Role of the Cervical Spine in High Blood Pressure

The cervical spine houses crucial components of the nervous system, including the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves. These nerves exit the base of the skull and travel along the front side of the neck’s vertebrae.

  • Glossopharyngeal Nerve: This nerve is involved in regulating substances in the bloodstream and controlling blood pressure through the carotid sinus and carotid body.
  • Vagus Nerve: This nerve transmits information between the brain and major organs such as the heart, lungs, digestive system, and more. It plays a significant role in the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions.

Dysfunction in these nerves, often caused by cervical spine disorders, can lead to abnormalities in blood flow. Conditions such as whiplash or concussion can result in dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, leading to either hypertension or hypotension.

Especially if you experience other symptoms related to the neck – migraines, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, dizziness or vertigo, chronic fatigue syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome – this points there could be a connection.

Research Findings

Several studies highlight the impact of the cervical spine on blood pressure:

  1. 2007 Study on Atlas Vertebra Realignment: A pilot study found that precise corrections in the alignment, motion, and stability of the top vertebra in the neck (the atlas) significantly normalized high blood pressure, often eliminating the need for multiple medications (Bakris et al., 2007).
  2. Mobilization of the Upper Cervical Spine: Other research indicates that restoring normal movement in the upper cervical joints promotes parasympathetic activity (the body’s “rest and digest” state), predominantly mediated by the vagus nerve. Increased parasympathetic activity typically results in lower blood pressure (Farrell et al., 2024).

Brain Inflammation and Blood Pressure

The vagus nerve is crucial in regulating brain inflammation, which, in turn, affects the entire body. Chronic inflammation can lead to elevated blood pressure. While healthy lifestyle habits are essential, they may not be sufficient for everyone. Ensuring the proper function of the body’s electrical regulatory system, including the cervical spine, can help manage these types of conditions more effectively.

Circulation Between the Brain and Body

Misalignments or damage to the upper neck joints can impede cerebrospinal fluid and venous circulation, adversely affecting brain function and potentially leading to brain inflammation. Inflammation in the brain can disrupt various bodily systems, contributing to high blood pressure.

The upper cervical spine’s joints have nerve receptors that directly influence the brain stem and cerebellum, which coordinates a significant portion of brain activity. Dysfunction in these areas can lead to increased cortisol (the stress hormone), which raises blood pressure.

A Holistic Approach to Blood Pressure Management

Blood pressure management often involves medication, especially when levels are dangerously high. However, addressing the underlying causes is equally important. The cervical spine’s health is a crucial, yet often overlooked, factor in this equation.

Upper cervical specific healthcare, a unique chiropractic approach, offers a drug-free, non-invasive method to improve cervical spine health. This approach involves precise corrections in the upper neck’s alignment and stability, which promotes better brain circulation and overall body function without the need for surgery or medications.


While blood pressure has many contributing factors, the health of the cervical spine plays a significant and often underappreciated role. Addressing issues in the upper neck can enhance autonomic balance, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation, all of which can help manage blood pressure more effectively. For those who have already optimized their diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management, considering the state of their cervical spine may provide the missing piece in the puzzle of controlling high blood pressure.

If you are looking for help with a chiropractor in Spokane, visit our home page more information. To schedule a new patient appointment with our Mead (north Spokane) or South Hill offices, complete a new patient request form here, or call us direct at 509-315-8166.


Bakris G, Dickholtz M Sr, Meyer PM, et al. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. J Hum Hypertens. 2007 May;21(5):347-52. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Farrell G. Chapple C. Kennedy E. Reily-Bell M. Sampath K. Gisselman AS. Cook C. Katare R. Tumilty S. Autonomic nervous system and endocrine system response to upper or lower cervical spine mobilization. In males with persistent post-concussion symptoms: a proof-of-concept trial. J Man Manip Ther. 2024 Jun 21:1-17. doi: 10.1080/10669817.2024.2363018. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38904298.

Welch A, Boone R. Sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to specific diversified adjustments to chiropractic vertebral subluxations of the cervical and thoracic spine. J Chiropr Med. 2008;7(3):86-93. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2008.04.001.

Win NN. Jorgensen AMS. Chen YS,.Haneline MT. Effects of Upper and Lower Cervical Spinal Manipulative Therapy on Blood Pressure. And Heart Rate Variability in Volunteers and Patients With Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled, Cross-Over, Preliminary Study. J Chiropr Med. 2015;14(1):1-9. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2014.12.005.