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All your sensations pass through the brainstem. (Except the smell and vision)


The brainstem is very small, making up around only 2.6 percent of the brain's total weight. [1] However It has the critical roles of regulating heart and breathing function, controlling the heart and breathing rate even sleep cycle [2]. Ten pairs of cranial nerves come from the brainstem [3]. Cranial nerves are the very important nerves that arise directly from the brain. There are twelve of them and ten are coming from the brainstem. 

This is why proper blood supply to the brainstem is critical to ensure it's function. 

This is the main reason why the position of the very first and second spines (C1 and C2) are so important because they could impact the shape and tension of the blood vessel (vertebral arteries) that goes to the brainstem. [4] 

At Headache & Neck Clinic, we use 3D X-ray system (CBCT) to analyze the head and neck to find out if there are any misalignment (Subluxation), spondylosis (Deformation of the spine) or anatomical variants. (undeveloped joint or congenital deformities etc.)


[1] Haines, D; Mihailoff, G (2018). Fundamental Neuroscience for Basic and Clinical Applications (5th ed.). ISBN 9780323396325.
[2] Brainstem | Definition, Structure, & Function". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
[3] "Cranial Nerve Nuclei and Brain Stem Circulation". Neuroanatomy Online. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
[4] Zhang MC, Shi YY, Chen DY, Huang SR, Chen B, Wang X, Wang HH, Zhang KY, Guo K, Zhan HS. [Clinical significance of vertebral artery MRA to vertebral artery type of cervical spondylosis' diagnosis and treatment]. Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2013 Nov;26(11):908-12. Chinese. PMID: 24605740.



The suboccipital muscles are a group of four muscles that are located at the base of the head. These muscles serve as postural support and allow extension and rotation movements of the neck. 

The vertebral artery travels a torturous course behind the suboccipital muscles while giving off branches that supply the suboccipital muscles.

Clinically, the suboccipital muscles have importance regarding their close relationship to the vertebral artery. [1]

Restoring the normal function of the suboccipital muscles can improve the headache and neck pain.[2],[3] 


[1] George T, Tadi P. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Suboccipital Muscles. [Updated 2021 Jan 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:

[2]Cho, Sung Hak. ‘The Effect of Suboccipital Muscle Inhibition and Posture Correction Exercises on Chronic Tension-type Headaches’. 1 Jan. 2021 : 1 – 8.

[3]Jiang, Wenbin et al. “Effectiveness of physical therapy on the suboccipital area of patients with tension-type headache: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Medicine vol. 98,19 (2019): e15487. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015487

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