Most people have heard of, or, are at least vaguely familiar with Alzheimer’s disease and what it does. It is not common knowledge, however, that upper cervical (neck) chiropractic adjustments can help prevent and/or slow the progression of said condition. To understand how this is done, it is important to understand the causes and mechanisms of the disease.

                Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, which means it causes brain cells to waste away and die. This results in declined thinking and memory, behavioral and social skills, and the ability to function overall. This is caused by brain proteins that malfunction and cluster together producing a toxic effect on the neurons. Beta-amyloid plaques, one of 2 types of proteins involved, disrupt cell to cell communication in the brain, limiting the ability to sustain neural pathways and develop new ones. Neurofibrillary tangles on the other hand affect the neurons internal support and transport systems causing disruption in nutrient flow to these cells resulting in cellular death1.

                Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors all play a roll in the build up and clustering of these proteins, but a major contributing factor is how the bodies cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows. One of the CSF’s main purposes is to transport metabolites and hormones in the central nervous system (CNS) and constantly wash the brain and spinal cord to ensure movement of these materials, preventing stagnation. CSF is actively overturned each day about 4.5 times per day4. Research has now shown that abnormal flow and turbulent areas of CSF can impede in this process, causing a buildup of these metabolites, producing a toxic effect2.

                Disruption of this CSF flow pattern can occur due to any type of space occupying lesion, i.e. tumor, growth, disc herniation and more; as well as misalignment of the vertebrae which house the CNS. When a vertebra becomes misaligned it can stretch, deform and/or occlude the space where the CSF travels. The upper neck is the most complex area of the spine and due to this complexity, it is vulnerable to injuries of both soft tissue and the membranous structures that support the CNS. Combined with the fact that it is in close proximity with the brain and brainstem, where the CSF is produced and secreted into the extracranial space, this area, when misaligned has been shown to cause CSF flow disruptions3. Therefore, if an upper cervical misalignment is present it can increase the chances and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

1) Alzheimer’s disease. (2018, December 08). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from

2) Gupta, S., Soellinger, M., Grzybowski, D. M., Boesiger, P., Biddiscombe, J., Poulikakos, D., & Kurtcuoglu, V. (2010). Cerebrospinal fluid dynamics in the human cranial subarachnoid space: An overlooked mediator of cerebral disease. I. Computational model. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 7(49), 1195-1204. doi:10.1098/rsif.2010.0033

3) Rosa, S., & Baird, J. W. (2015). The Craniocervical Junction: Observations regarding the Relationship between Misalignment, Obstruction of Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow, Cerebellar Tonsillar Ectopia, and Image-Guided Correction. The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI, 48-66. doi:10.1159/000365470

4) Torgerud, S. R. (2016). Brain Ventricles/Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Production and Flow. In 911257297 717122431 G. R. Lewellen (Author), Human cns and pns structure (pp. 50-55). Place of publication not identified: Kendall Hunt.