Trigeminal Neuralgia & The Role of the Neck

It means that anything that negatively affects the atlas (C1), axis (C2) or C3 vertebrae in your neck has the potential to affect the Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus and in turn, trigger the symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Experts propose several potential mechanisms of injury, the most likely being mechanical tension. Your brain and spinal cord are protected by a thick layer of connective tissue called the dura mater (no joke, the literal translation is “one tough mother”). The dura attaches to the inside of the skull and the inside of the vertebral canal. In turn, the the dura attaches to the cord via incredibly strong ligaments called dentate ligaments (aka “toothlike ligaments” because they are shaped like shark teeth).

An astonishing fact is that the dentate ligaments in the upper neck are so strong that if there is sufficient tension on them, the brain tissue itself tears before these ligaments do!

Why are these ligaments so strong? The function of the dentate ligaments is to maintain the position of your brainstem inside your spinal canal. If these ligaments did not exist, you would compress your spinal cord every time that you moved your head.

Experts believe it is this very protective mechanism that can cause the problems associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Specifically, the problem involves the top three vertebrae in the neck: C1 (the atlas), C2 (the axis) and C3.

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