Vagus Nerve

How does an Atlas Misalignment Affect your Vagus Nerve?

The vagus nerve is one of the most important nerves in your body. It communicates all of the messages between your brain and every single one of your vital organs:

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Digestive System
  • Reproductive System
  • All of your glands (e.g., Thyroid, Adrenals, etc)

Often times when we experience problems with our health, we usually focus on where we feel our symptoms. For example, if we experience digestive problems, we think that we need to either work on our diet or see a gastroenterologist. While it is always important to make suer we aren’t dealing with overt pathology – and while diet is an exceptionally big piece of the puzzle as well – one of the other most important things that can affect the function of our body is a misalignment at the top of our neck.


The Connection between the Vagus Nerve and your C1 Vertebra

The C1 (atlas) vertebra supports the weight of your head. It is also the only bone in your entire spine that does not have a disc that locks it into place. As a result, it is the proverbial weak link in the chain. Whenever we may experience a physical injury – even if there aren’t any broken bones, bleeding or even bruising – the impact can cause this particular vertebra to misalign. Even a 2mm misalignment (as small as it seems), if that vertebra gets locked into an abnormal position, it can affect the function of your vagus nerve and the health of your entire body.

How is that possible? Well, your vagus nerve actually comes off the base of your brainstem at the exact level of the C1 vertebra before it travels down to all your vital organs. More specifically, it passes along the front of the vertebrae in your neck.

The reason this is important is because of the types of activities that we do that cause our head to lean forward: sitting, standing, sleeping, texting, typing, reading and writing. This action can cause your atlas to encroach upon your vagus nerve. Think of it like having a pebble in your shoe. As small as the pebble might be, if it rubs against your foot over-and-over again, it can lead to large amounts of irritation over time.

Your atlas and vagus nerve are no exceptions to this rule.


Why are all my tests saying that everything is normal?

Even when people have MRI or CT scans, these types of problems typically do not show up for two reasons:

  1. The medical radiologist is looking for overt signs of compression, and compression is relatively rare. As a result, your report comes back saying that everything is normal.
  2. Most MRI and CTs are taken in a lying down position, which creates a little more space between your atlas and vagus nerve. This also makes everything look like things are “normal” when they are actually not.

In this way, people can experience all kinds of symptoms that they never think could be connected to a misalignment in their neck:

  • Sleeping disorders (including sleep apnea)
  • Faintness, dizziness and a “passing out” feeling (aka vasovagal syncope)
  • Hormone imbalances (including thyroid, reproductive and adrenal)
  • Blood pressure and heart irregularities (including positional orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, aka POTS)
  • Breathing issues
  • Digestive issues (including reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and colic in infants)


Are my Vagus Nerve symptoms are connected to my neck?

Now, if you experience any of these symptoms, here’s an important clue that the problem is coming from your neck. Your vagus nerve also regulates circulation and inflammation in your brain.

So, if you also experience headaches, migraines, vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus or have ever suffered a whiplash injury (again, even if you didn’t have any broken bones or bleeding), there is a strong probability that there is a connection.

The question then is, “What do you do about it? If you suspect you have a vagus nerve problem, who do I see?” This is where a unique speciality known as the Blair technique can help you. The Blair technique is a special division of upper cervical specific chiropractic that does NOT involve any twisting, cracking or popping the neck. A Blair chiropractor undergoes advanced training that includes specialized diagnostic upright imaging in order to discover the exact location, direction and degree of misalignment in your neck that can be affecting your vagus nerve. The procedure then involves a very precise correction that uses only the amount go force you would use to click a pen … and again, without any twisting or cracking the neck.

 Find out if the Blair technique might be the solution you are looking for if you’ve been experiencing symptoms connected to your vagus nerve,. If you are looking for 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.