Emotional Stress and the Upper Cervical Misalignment

This weeks Topic of the Week.

Initially the atlas bone will shift out of alignment after a physical injury. After we get the atlas back into its proper position it can go back out of alignment. Emotional Stress is one of the major causes of the atlas going out of alignment. (Other major causes are another physical injury, physical stress, chemical stress, and lack of sleep.)

Emotional stress can come from the loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, finances, spouse, children, and many other challenges from the joys of life. These stressors don’t automatically cause us to go out of alignment, but if we get overwhelmed, they can result in a misalignment.

This is because emotional stressors can turn into physical stressors and cause our muscles to contract. This tension can pull the atlas out position. We have many colorful terms to describe this phenomena such as “being uptight”, “he’s a pain in the neck”, “she’s a pain in the butt”, “get off my back”, “felt like I was punched in the gut” and “my head was pounding I was so mad”. “Lumps in the throat”, and “clenched jaws” can affect breathing and neck position. “Hole in the heart” can affect our posture causing us to be slumped.

Emotional stressors can also affect us chemically. When we are stressed our adrenal glands produce extra chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline. Stress will also decrease serotonin levels. In order to produce these chemicals, our body needs nutrients. Some of the same nutrients that are needed for the repair of ligaments that hold our bones in place are the same nutrients that are needed to produce these chemicals. This depletion of nutrients can keep our ligaments from fully repairing from our daily stress and wear and tear of life.

While we can’t avoid emotional stressors, we can do things to minimize the harm to us.

Exercise (from running to weights to yoga), meditation, prayer, sleep, talking to a friend, and journaling can all help us relieve our emotional stress. I believe that it can even help heal our emotional trauma so that stay present to ourselves and the needs of those around us.

If your are having trouble with emotional stress, Here are some other things that I’ve found helpful:

  1. Emotional Freedom Technique: In Emotional Freedom Technique, you tap on acupuncture points while making statements to help work through an emotional problem. You can download the manual for free at http://emofree.com/.

  2. Re-evaluation Counseling. From their website: “Re-evaluation Counseling is a process whereby people of all ages and of all backgrounds can learn how to exchange effective help with each other in order to free themselves from the effects of past distress experiences.” You can download instructions or look for classes at their website at http://www.rc.org/.

  3. Private counseling: Contact me for references.

~Dr. Michael


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About Dr. Michael Polsinelli, DC

I really enjoy my work. It is a combination of listening, analyzing, and the skill of performing my craft. I love the expression on my patients faces when I puzzle out a long standing problem of theirs, or when their pain leaves after gently adjusting them. Read more about me

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