Is it possible that hypertension could be affected by misalignment in the spine? Absolutely! There are many medical conditions that are caused by vertebral misalignment. 

A pilot study was done to determine if atlas/ C1 vertebra realignment would relieve arterial pressure in patients that experience hypertension. What they concluded may surprise you. 

Study Concludes Atlas Vertebra Alignment Improves Hypertension

During the 8-week study, the patients did not receive antihypertensive medication. The researchers randomly chose patients in the group and corrected the misalignment in their atlas/C1 vertebra (Using the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association procedure.) At the end of the 8-week period, the patients who were adjusted saw a decrease in blood pressure (diastolic BP -10+/-11 mm Hg and systolic BP -17+/-9mm Hg) as well as a lower heart rate. 

The other group received a sham procedure. Those patients didn’t see a change in their heart rate or much change to their blood pressure (diastolic BP -2+/-7 mm Hg and systolic BP -3+/-11 mm Hg). 

It was concluded that patients that had their atlas/C1 vertebrae adjusted saw a large reduction in their BP similar to patients that use two-drug combination therapy. 

They Even Did the Study in Rats! 

In this study, they used rats that had a surgically induced misalignment in their atlantoaxial or atlas/C1 joints. Before the study, they determined a baseline for the blood pressure. Then, after the forced misalignment surgery, they took the blood pressure again and found that the diastolic BP and systolic BP had increased significantly.   

The Correlation Between the Atlas Adjustment and Hypertension

While researchers in both the human and rat study concluded that they “don’t understand the relationship”, between atlas/C1 misalignment and hypertension, but there is a hypothesis. The answer lies in the anatomy of the bone, ligament, and nerve of the atlas/ C1 area.   In this study put out by the Mayer Chiropractic Clinic and the National Institute of Health we can see on MRIs of the spinal canal that the bone and the nerve are connected by a ligament called the Dentate Ligament. When the vertebra moves out of alignment the attached ligament moves with it, resulting in pulling on the dura matter at the brain stem. (1,2) 

The dentate ligaments at this level of the spine are very strong.  The pull and torsion to the brain stem can be significant. Dr. John Grostic began talking about this phenomenon back in the 1950s with The Dentate Ligament Cord Distortion Hypothesis. (1)

The lower part of the brain stem, the medulla, is responsible for regulating blood pressure. Interference at this level could explain the relationship between CCJ (the area made up of the atlas, axis and the base of the skull) misalignment and hypertension.  In other words, when the bone moves out of alignment, it pulls on the delicate nerve tissue that creates mechanical tension into the lower brain stem- and creating a stress response of increased blood pressure.

Case Study Shows Specific Atlas/C1 Misalignment Correction

Many case studies within the Upper Cervical Chiropractic field have demonstrated the correlation of reducing hypertension or orthostatic hypotension after specific atlas/C1 misalignment correction. 

Case Study With 25-Year-Old Female

A female, age 25, presented with neuromediated hypotension. She had a history of cervicalgia. She went through 8 weeks of Atlas Orthogonality (AO) care. At the end of the treatment time, her mean pulse pressure improved. (3)

Case Study With 68-Year-Old Female

A female, age 68, with atrial fibrillation and hypertension improved her heart rate and blood pressure from Knee Chest adjustments. After 4 visits to the chiropractor, she was able to stop using her hypertensive medication. (3)

Case Study With 42 Patients

A private AO practice looked at 42 of their patients that experienced hypotension or hypertension. They measured their arterial blood pressure before starting treatments and after. The patients that experienced hypotension saw an increase of arterial blood pressure. Patients with hypertension saw a decrease in their hypertension. Both were treated with the same UC procedures. (4)

How is The Upper Cervical Alignment Achieved?  

Below are the specific films that are taken to determine the exact positioning of the skull/C1/C2.  We call this the patient’s “listing”. If it is determined that they have a misalignment, we use these vectors to correct it specifically and gently. The goal is to have the adjustment “hold” in order to create an optimal neurological function, particularly at the brain stem. 

Atlas Alignment Treatment

HealthWorks: A Family Wellness Center  offers specificatlas/ C1 alignment with the gentle Grostic technique Here is a look at what we do during a session-

If you experience hypertension, this may be a good option for you. 

Resources: 
1. Grostic, J.D.; Dentate Ligament – cord distortion hypothesis; Chiropractic Research Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, pp 47-55, 1988. Reference
2. Eriksen, K.; Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: a Review of the Chiropractic and Medical Literature; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.
3. Hannah JSH. Changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure for a hypotensive patient receiving upper cervical specific: a case report. Chir J Aust. 2009 Sep;39(3):118–121. Reference
4. Qualls TQ, Lester CL. Resolution of atrial fibrillation & hypertension in a patient undergoing upper-cervical chiropractic care. J Upr Cerv Chiropr Res. 2012 Win;1:9–15. Reference
Christy Flick, DC

Christy Flick, DC

Dr. Christy Flick believes that we are all capable of living the life of our dreams; to make every day turn into a more extraordinarily tomorrow. read more...