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  • Writer's pictureJerry Kennedy

Upper Cervical Chiropractic for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Upper cervical specific care chiropractic is a natural approach to helping people suffering Trigeminal Neuralgia.

If you have been recently diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia - or if you have been experiencing Trigeminal Neuralgia for a long time and you are looking for treatment options, you surely have a lot of questions:

  • Are surgery and medication my only option?

  • If my MRI scans are normal, why am I still experiencing the pain?

  • How can a chiropractor help Trigeminal Neuralgia?

  • I’ve already been to a physiotherapist (or chiropractor). How is this “upper cervical” treatment any different?

In this article, we will do our best to answer these common questions about upper cervical chiropractic treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Trigeminal Neuralgia - We believe in Hope.

Before we get into the details, we want to share with you just a few things that we, as Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractors, believe.

  • We believe in the Innate Healing power that gives life to the human body.

  • We believe that no matter who you are or what you are experiencing that as long as a you have a breath of life in your body, that there is hope and that you do have the ability to heal.

Trigeminal neuralgia is no exception to this rule. Yes, trigeminal neuralgia is one of the very cruelest syndromes that any human being can endure. And believe it or not, trigeminal neuralgia is actually far more common that you would otherwise believe. You are not alone in this.

And most fortunately, we have been able to help many people over the years experiencing trigeminal neuralgia. We have been able to help them find relief and get back to enjoying the things in life that matter most to them.

You are not your pain, and we know that healing is possible.

Of course, every human being is different, and so we will not be so stupid to promise you the world without at least meeting you and assessing your unique circumstances first. Nevertheless, we do know that healing from Trigeminal Neuralgia is possible.

Trigeminal Neuralgia - What your neurologists or specialists may not have told you

Okay, this is not an article about the “types” or categories or Trigeminal Neuralgia: classic, atypical type, I, II, III and so forth. Specifically, this is an article for people who are experiencing the idiopathic type of Trigeminal Neuralgia.

In other words, you are experiencing the head and facial pain (the exact location doesn’t really matter, and we will explain why in just a few

moments), but your MRI scans appear normal. This means that your specialists and neurologists can’t identify the exact cause of your symptoms.

And if you are an intelligent, logical human being, this will not make any sense to you.

How can it be possible that you can experience the symptoms so fierce as Trigeminal Neuralgia but there isn’t any “cause” showing up on your tests?!

We believe in a cause an effect universe. All effects have a cause, and all causes have effects. Now, in fairness, when people experience symptoms, we don’t always know what the true underlying cause is. Nevertheless, there are two general categories that we can discuss that relate to Trigeminal Neuralgia.

The first is what is known as “objective pathology.” Things like a tumour, an infection, a bleed, a other discrete lesion (e.g., rubbing against an artery or nerve) that are clearly observable. Think of it like a frayed wire inside your computer that is causing it to malfunction. These types of lesions are the traditional things that trigeminal neuralgia specialists are commonly looking for. However, these types of conditions only account for approximately 50% of Trigeminal Neuralgia cases.

The second type is what is known as “functional pathology.” Think of it like a computer virus. You can’t see it, but something is affecting how the software works, and can still cause the computer to malfunction. In these cases, when you perform an MRI scan, everything will appear normal … and yet there can still be a major problem!

In these cases, the only tool that many neurologists or specialists for Trigeminal Neuralgia have are increasingly powerful drugs and medications. While many of these medications can often help to reduce the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, many of them also have side effects.

And if you are the type of person who doesn’t like taking drugs, this is not a palliative options … especially if you know that the drugs are simply masking the symptoms but aren’t getting to the underlying cause.

It is at this point when people typically start exploring other options for Trigeminal Neuralgia:

  • To understand what the cause of trigeminal neuralgia is

  • To understand what trigeminal neuralgia treatments are available that don’t involve drugs to surgery

  • To understand what they need to do to get back to enjoying life!

The role of the upper neck in Trigeminal Neuralgia

When many people research trigeminal neuralgia, they focus on the three primary nerve divisions - the Ophthalmic, the Maxillary and Mandibular Nerves - of the Trigeminal Nerve. As a result, they focus on treatments on the head, face and teeth.

But let me ask you, where do you think all those nerves (which are like messengers on a road) ultimately travel? Yes, into the brain, but more specifically where? Where is the primary processing centre for all of the touch, pain, and temperature related information from the trigeminal nerve.

It is a centre known as the “Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus,” which is located in the brainstem (pone and medulla) … and that actually descends all the way into the spinal canal in the upper neck.

The reason that this orientation matters as it relates to trigeminal neuralgia is that any problem that affects the Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus may have the potential to produce the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia.

In other words, Trigeminal Neuralgia isn’t always caused by a problem in the head or brain. It can also be caused by a problem in the upper neck!

There are three primary ways that a mechanical issue in the upper neck can actually lead to Trigeminal Neuralgia.

  1. Mechanical tension. The top three vertebrae in your neck (C1, C2 and C3) contain ligaments that anchor the bone, surrounding muscles, and the outside of the spinal cord. Therefore, if the vertebrae move or get locked into the wrong position, they can exert a physical pull on the spinal cord, cause deformation, and thus produce a wide array of symptoms including trigeminal neuralgia.

  2. Information overload. The joints in the upper neck also transmit a huge volume of information about your shoulders, neck and head. If these joints are injured, they can send an abnormal cascade of noxious information that overwhelms the sensory processing centre. Like a computer processing too much information all at once, this can cause the system to break down and even “spill over” to produce the symptoms of original neuralgia.

  3. Fluid pressure. If the top vertebrae in the neck misalign and get locked in the wrong position, they can inferrer with the normal flow of blood and fluid to, from and within the cranial vault. The consequence is that fluid can build up and produce pressure or irritation on the nerves, which has been linked with a number of chronic pain and neurological disorders related with trigeminal neuralgia.

What is the take-away message here?

It is that a mechanical problem with your upper neck can affect the function of your nerve system and lead to a functional pathology such as Trigeminal Neuralgia.

… But what it also means is that the reverse can also be true. If the original cause is actually coming from your neck, then the solution for your trigeminal neuralgia may also involve the neck as well!

The Blair Technique and Trigeminal Neuralgia

Because the upper neck is such a sensitive and important area, it is important that any treatment is just as precise.

This is one of the major points of difference in what is known as the Blair upper cervical technique. The Blair technique is a specific method of chiropractic researched and developed in the USA (which is one of the reasons why it is still so rare here in Australia). It is similar it many ways to the NUCCA and Atlas Orthogonal techniques.

Unlike general spinal manipulation that may use twisting or cracking the neck, or other physiotherapeutic methods that involves trigger points, stretching or reading the muscles in the back of the neck, the Blair technique uses a completely different method of analysis that is actually based on your unique body structure.

Every human being is different on both the outside and also on the inside. So when it comes to getting the most precise and effective solutions, it is important to take these individual differences into account. Otherwise, you can be working in the right area … but in the completely wrong direction!

(It is one of the reasons if you have had different types of treatment for your upper neck but found that the treatment stirred up your trigeminal neuralgia that happened. Right area, but wrong way).

In order to minimise the chance of error and to maximise the chance of success, what a Blair upper cervical chiropractor does are a series of physical, neurological and diagnostic images that show what CTs and MRIs do not: they show the exact direction and degree of the displacement in your neck that is disrupting the normal life and healing flow between your brain and your body.

With this information, a Blair chiropractor is then able to perceive a personalised care recommendation, and perform a series of corrections, designed just for you, to restore and repair the normal alignment and movement through your upper neck. The principle here is that by restoring the function through the upper neck that it also restores the normal function of your nerve system to heal itself, the byproduct being a natural, drug-free and surgery-free option for trigeminal neuralgia.

As we have stated earlier in this article, every human being with trigeminal neuralgia is different. Therefore, before we would make any recommendations, we would simply advise having a conversation so that we may be able to answer any questions that you have to decide if Blair upper cervical care may be right for you.


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