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The Stress Response
Stress changes the way the brain and the body function. This stress response is called the fight-or flight response. It is the brain’s response to both real and perceived threats. In response to a stressful stimulus the brain will:
- Increase stress hormones
- Increase muscle tension
- Increase heart rate and blood pressure
- Increase the reflex response
- Increase adrenaline
- Decrease immune system responses
- Decrease digestion
- Decrease excretion and urination
- Dramatically slow healing responses
- Decrease cognitive function
You may have experienced this response in your body when someone jumped out at you to scare you.
Healthy and Unhealthy Responses
This stress response is designed to help the body react and adapt to potentially dangerous situations. For example, if you are hiking and you spot a bear not far from you, your body will respond with a stress response. It helps prepare your body and brain for survival, which is why it is called “fight-or-flight” response. In this scenario, you may need to take flight and run. However, when the threat is no longer there, the nervous system and the body’s function returns to normal.
In situations where there is no immediate threat, this response is inappropriate, unhelpful, and even harmful. Chronic stress from unhealthy work environments or challenging life events can be perceived as a threat to your brain. Because these stressors are encountered chronically, it drives your brain into this fight-or-flight state long term. Instead of your nervous system calming down, you end up with long term adrenal fatigue, inability to think clearly, high blood pressure, muscle tension and more. This will also compromise the strength of your immune system and hormonal balance.
Brain Changes from Within
A misalignment of the craniocervical junction can cause an imbalance in nerve signals that travel up to the brain from the body (1). These nerve signals, called mechanoreceptors, influence the balance of our spine and posture (2). They can also influence changes deeper in the brain.
The amygdala (3), which is part of the limbic system or “emotional brain”, is also influenced by these nerve signals. Imbalanced signals from the upper neck are interpreted by the limbic system as a stressful stimulus. The hypothalamus (4), which is also part of the limbic system, then makes the body change its function by turning on this fight-or-flight response (5). Because this response is being caused by a misalignment within the upper cervical spine, the symptoms listed earlier become a chronic problem. Relaxation therapies and even medications only have minimal or short term effects because the problem is caused from within.
Upper cervical care addresses the craniocervical misalignment. Using innovative and precise procedures, upper cervical chiropractors are able to correct the misalignment of the craniocervical junction, allowing the limbic system to respond as it should to your everyday encounters. You sleep better, think better, relax better, and your health returns.
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.