Does Your Heart Beat Irregularly When You Look Down? You May Have A Retroflexed Odontoid

If you feel an irregular heartbeat when you turn your head or look down, you may have what is called a retroflexed odontoid, which is not a condition of the heart. The odontoid is located at the back of the second vertebra in your neck. It's in the shape of a tooth and is what your head pivots on. When the odontoid is pointing in the wrong direction, it's called retroflexed. 

Now you're probably wondering why a retroflexed odontoid could cause your heart to beat irregularly. Well, for the same reason it can cause your respiratory rate to go bonkers or your gastrointestinal system to go haywire—compression of the brain stem. Treatment for severe retroflexed odontoid is surgery. Treatment for mild and moderate cases of retroflexed odontoid includes physical rehabilitation and lifestyle changes. Here's why. 

Retroflexed Odontoid & Brain Stem Compression 

A normal, healthy person will be able to look down without any problems. In someone with a retroflexed odontoid, flexing their neck downward can put pressure on the brain stem's medulla oblongata, which contains all the nerves that control the functions your body does naturally, such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate. If this sounds like something that you experience, ask your primary care physician for a head and neck MRI with and without flexion to determine whether or not you have a retroflexed odontoid. 

Physical Rehabilitation & Lifestyle Changes 

If you are diagnosed with retroflexed odontoid, a neurosurgeon will recommend whether you have surgery or not. Surgery is typically done through the oral cavity and usually physical rehabilitation is recommended afterwards. For mild and moderate cases, short term physical rehabilitation is necessary to teach you safer ways to move without moving your neck, especially while doing normal daily activities.

Sometimes, a cervical collar is prescribed to firmly hold the head in a neutral position so the patient is unable to flex or turn their neck. If a cervical collar is prescribed for you, physical rehabilitation will teach you how to correctly wear the cervical collar and how to safely change positions, such as when getting into a car. 

Lifestyle changes are also recommended to help patients deal with a retroflexed odontoid, such as sitting down when washing dishes so you don't have to look down while you work and looking in a mirror when fastening buttons instead of looking down. When getting physical rehabilitation for retroflexed odontoid, be sure your entire medical team is kept abreast of your progress. 

About Me

Preparing for a Stem Cell Transplant

About six months ago, my wonderful father discovered he had an aggressive form of lymphoma. At this time, his doctor informed him he would need to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy. My dad’s physician also told him he would need to have a stem cell transplant immediately after he completed the chemotherapy. To prepare for the stem cell transplant, my father was put on a special diet. His doctor recommended he eat a lot of protein. My dad was also told to drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. On this blog, I hope you will learn smart tips to help you or one of your loved ones prepare for a stem cell transplant. Enjoy!


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