The Connection Between Ménière’s disease and Atlas Subluxation

Health Solutions for Ménière’s Disease. You have 7 bones in your neck, C1 – C7. Your head sits directly on top of atlas, also known as C1. Atlas is the first bone in your neck. Your head weighs between 10-15 pounds, and sits on top of C1, which weighs about 2 ounces. When head trauma occurs, atlas can get knocked out of place. This causes an atlas subluxation, which puts pressure on your brainstem.

The base of the brain, or brainstem,  controls all important bodily functions, such as breathing, blood pressure, sleep, digestion and balance.

When subluxated, the weight of your head is not balanced evenly over your neck. The rest of your body compensates, one shoulder drops, one hip comes up, pulling up on the leg and  creating body imbalance and an abnormal gait. This causes interference at the point where your head and neck join (the atlas). If the atlas is out of its proper alignment, it can constrict, irritate or disrupt vital nerve signals.  This causes joint or muscle pain, a lowered immune system, organ dysfunction and many other conditions. However, you may not necessarily connect these conditions with your neck, including the symptoms of Ménière’s disease.


The Endolymph Connection

Ménière’s disease is also known as “endolymphatic hydrops.” Endolymphatic hydrops is, “the accumulation of fluid of the membranous labyrinth of the ear, thought to be caused by the over production or under absorption of that fluid” by the Merck Manual.

Your inner ear consists of two fluids, endolymph and perilymph. These fluids are in separate compartments. Hydrops is the medical term for excess fluid. Therefore, endolymphatic hydrops is an excess of endolymph.

When your body is working properly, your body produces new endolymph, and reabsorbs an equal amount of old endolymph, thus maintaining an equal endolymphatic pressure. Ménière’s disease is a build-up of excessive endolymph in the vestibular (balance) portion of the inner ear. This build results in either too much endolymph produced or not enough endolymph is reabsorbed.

Pressure on the vestibulo-cochlear nerve (the 8th cranial nerve) from a subluxation is disrupts your body’s ability to properly regulate endolymphatic pressure. However, the real issue underlying Ménière’s disease isn’t found in your inner ear. Instead, by having your atlas, C1, vertebrae out of alignment.


The Whiplash Connection

Whiplash injuries oftentimes are often linked to both Ménière’s disease and Trigeminal Neuralgia. The trauma from a whiplash injury sets the stage. Therefore, it is not uncommon for these two conditions to show up later in life. The symptoms oftentimes show up many years later, and the causal relationship is often missed. When patients think of whiplash, they think of car accidents. However, whiplash injuries can also happen from any trauma to your head, such as a childhood fall. Dr. Burcon, an upper cervical chiropractor that has had extensive experience in this area, states that half of his Ménière’s patients have been in a vehicle accident. However, the other half had injuries involving head trauma. It is not uncommon for patients to deny a car accident or head trauma during an initial consultation. Patients either forget or think the injury is too minor to be connected.

Atlas subluxations affect the nerves of your autonomic nervous system, blood flow, and cerebral-spinal fluid (CSF) flow. This piece is important as Ménière’s disease is commonly related to problems with excess endolymph, which is in essence, CSF in your inner ear.


Trigeminal Neuralgia

It is important to note that 5 of your 12 cranial nerves originate in your brainstem, surrounded by the top bones in your neck. When the trigeminal nerve (5th cranial nerve) becomes compressed by an atlas subluxation, eustachian tube function can become affected. As a result, this causes the feeling of fullness in your ear. The trigemenal nerve also controls proper function of your temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) which can also affect proper eustachian tube function. Also, when the vestibulo-cochlear nerve (8th cranial nerve) is affected, it results in low-frequency hearing loss, tinnitus and balance conditions such as vertigo and dizziness. It is believed that an atlas misalignment will result in Ménière’s disease. You can learn more about vertigo here.


If you are suffering from Ménière’s disease, give us a call for a consultation at (619) 756-7510.

Gentle Adjustments. Powerful Results.


Gentle NUCCA Chiropractors

Intouch Chiropractic | San Diego, CA

(619) 756-7510

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