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The Purpose of CSF
The brain is surrounded by a protective fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is very important to brain function and brain protection. This CSF provides protection from shock such as falls and head injuries. The CSF is also responsible for delivering nutrients to the brain from the bloodstream. Not only does it provide nutrients, but it plays a major role in clearing out waste between the nerve cells of the brain.
The cerebrospinal fluid is produced deep inside the brain in an area called the ventricles. Once the fluid is made, it is transported down the center of the spinal cord and out of the ventricles at the brainstem. As it exits the ventricles, the CSF surrounds the brain and the outside of the spinal cord.
Turbulent Flow Patterns
The CSF has a pumping effect that pumps with each beat of your heart. The fluid will circulate around the brain and down the spinal cord in a particular flow pattern. The flow is not noticeable under normal circumstances. Fluid flow can, however, be disrupted and cause turbulence, much like rough river beds that cause rapids. A significant cause of this turbulent CSF flow is a misalignment at the craniocervical junction (the joints between the skull and the top bone of the spine). A craniocervical junction misalignment can twist or torque the covering over the spinal cord (called dura matter) and cause the fluid to pound on the brainstem. This pounding turbulence is linked to pounding headaches and multiple neurodegenerative conditions including multiple sclerosis.
In some instances, the brainstem can also plug the bottom of the brain and cause a blockage of the CSF flow. This blockage is like putting a cork in the bottom of your brain cavity, backing up the fluid. This blockage occurs commonly with people who have Arnold-Chiari malformations, especially if they also have an upper cervical misalignment. It can also occur in individuals who have had traumatic whiplash-type injuries that have pulled the spinal cord and brainstem down. These injuries will often lead to a misalignment of the upper cervical spine.
When the CSF fluid flow is blocked at the upper cervical spine, the fluid can back up and can increase pressure in the cranium (linked to hydrocephalus and ventriculomegaly). This backed up fluid can lead to migraines and pain behind the eyes. If the fluid is not draining properly, waste products from the brain can accumulate which can slow down cognitive function. If left long enough, it can progress to more severe conditions such as hydrocephalus and neurodegeneration, including dementia type symptoms.
Correcting the Problem
Correcting the misalignment of the craniocervical junction can improve flow of CSF through the brain and down the spinal cord. By improving CSF flow, the nerves are able to calm down and heal. Correcting the misalignment can improve pressure regulation by allowing the fluid to drain and filter correctly.
Non-surgical restoration of the cerebrospinal fluid can be influenced through upper cervical care. It is one of many factors involved with a craniocervical misalignment that can negatively affect your health. Upper cervical chiropractic care is known for gentle and precise correction of the craniocervical junction. There are a number of these gentle procedures used, but the goal of this care is to restore health to the body through the stability of the upper cervical spine.
Seek the Experts
Upper cervical chiropractors have a unique focus on correcting misalignments of the craniocervical junction that can lead to brain and body dysfunction. Their post-graduate training prepares them to identify subtle misalignments in this area and correct it using a variety of gentle and precise corrective techniques. Designed to be a long-term solution, the goal of these doctors is to correct and stabilize the upper cervical spine to restore the integrity of the nervous system. If you have concerns about you or your family’s health care, seek your local upper cervical chiropractor.