• Dr. Mark Freund

Atlas Subluxation Complex Symptoms and Treatment


Explaining Atlas Subluxation Complex

Whether it's neck pain, migraines, vertigo, or even back pain, suffering from pain and stress in your body is difficult to go through. Or perhaps, you have a stiff neck and can turn your neck in one direction. In any of these cases, you may be experiencing an atlas subluxation complex. This occurs when the bone at the top of the spine is misaligned, causing all sorts of issues throughout the body.


In this article, we'll cover the Atlas subluxation complex symptoms and treatment. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of the condition and how you can receive help to restore your health.


What is Atlas Displacement Complex?

Atlas displacement complex occurs when the atlas bone is misaligned and locked into a stressed abnormal position, resulting in disruption, irritation, tension, and pressure to the cerebrospinal fluid circulation and blood flow. This condition may also be called Atlas subluxation complex since the term subluxation is a term that means a bone is dislocated to the joint. The Atlas is the first bone of the spine at the skull's base. The term "Atlas" is a figure in Greek mythology who carried the entire world on his shoulders.


What is the Atlas Bone and What is its Role

Similarly, the Atlas, weighing just 2 ounces, has the responsibility of supporting the head, weighing 9 to 17 pounds. The atlas or C1 bone is the first neck vertebra on the spine. It's a small ring-like bone located at the top of the spine. It is next to the brain stem, which is the part of the central nervous system that is in charge of various vital body functions. One of these very crucial functions is the muscle balance of the spine. When the Atlas is subjected to injury or stress, it can become partly misaligned in relation to the skull and the other vertebrae in the neck.


Damages Caused by Upper Cervical Misalignment

Upon the neck misalignment, the nerves in the skull's base become choked. The human body is perfectly balanced when the head is positioned in the center. When the Atlas is misaligned, it causes the head to lean one way. When the head tilts, the spine can shift to overcompensate.


Even a tiny structural misalignment of the upper cervical spine results in a muscular response that shifts the entire balance of the body from equilibrium and places significant stress on the spine. The term "Atlas Displacement Complex" is the condition intended to describe the adverse effects of the structural misalignment of the upper neck region. Neurological imbalance can cause a wide array of issues. Nervous tissue is elastic by nature; therefore, it can be disfigured by mechanical extension and compression exerted.


It is difficult to believe an issue in the neck could cause a problem in the entire spine. All nerve signals sent to and from the brain travel through the upper neck area. Correct spinal alignment head and neck is essential for proper communication to occur. We know from years of clinical observation, and research overall health and wellbeing are positively affected through maintaining proper spinal balance.


This then causes further misalignment in the other areas within the spine resulting in tenderness and pain. It could also have a role in many symptoms such as migraines, sinus pain, headaches, numbness and pain in the play e arms or hands, facial or TMJ pain, allergies, asthma, neck or shoulder pain, and allergies. See a chiropractor and realigning the Atlas can allow the body to restore itself to optimum health.


Symptoms of Atlas Displacement Complex

There are many symptoms that may appear due to atlas misalignment, from mild dizziness to chronic and debilitating pain. The Atlas displacement complex symptoms include:

Atlas Subluxation Complex Symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Head colds

  • Headaches

  • Migraines

  • Dizziness

  • Blood pressure p[roblems

  • Loss of balance

  • Neck stiffness

  • Sleep disruption or insomnia

  • Jaw pain

  • Pressure behind the eyes

  • Postural distortion such as head tilt, shoulder tilt, pelvic tilt, or short leg


If the Atlas bone stays in an abnormal position, the patient's health and wellbeing may degrade over time. The average onset of symptoms for atlas misalignment can be ten to 15 years. However, the time could vary since symptoms may become immediately known in the case of a traumatic accident. If you're experiencing any of these atlas misalignment symptoms, it's essential to seek a chiropractic doctor.


It's important to know that there are some lifestyle factors that can contribute to atlas misalignment, such as:


  • Overconsumption of nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol

  • Lack of activity and exercise

  • Poor dietary habits

  • Excessive physical and mental stressors

  • Overuse of over-the-counter or prescription drugs


Injuries and Accidents that May Cause Atlas Misalignment Symptoms

In combination with lifestyle factors that contribute to Atlas misalignment, accidents can often be the root cause. The supporting muscles and ligaments can be severely injured and dislocated in an accident, which causes the C1 vertebra to loosen from its normal position.


Ultimately an atlas misalignment disrupts the natural nerve flow since this is the body's control center. Any amount of pressure or overstretching on the Atlas can be detrimental to the sensitive nerves of the spine and the brain stem. This slight misalignment of the Atlas eventually causes interference in the nerve flow between the brain and the body.


An atlas misalignment causes muscle tightening, typically along one side of the spine. Sometimes, the muscle tightening causes one hip to rise higher than the other. Consequently, this pulls one leg up higher, giving the appearance of a short leg. Short leg symptoms cause physical distress that can sometimes be unbearable.


This muscle tightening then shifts the entirety of the spine out of alignment. You can see how the Atlas affects the entire body, not just the upper neck. Over the years, an atlas displacement complex will cause arthritis, spinal degeneration, bulging discs, spurs, and pinched nerves.


Treatment for Atlas Subluxation Complex

Fortunately, you won't have to be stuck with a stiff neck, migraines, headaches, and other unwanted symptoms forever. Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in identifying and correcting misalignments in the Atlas.


Can Atlas Subluxation Be Fixed?

Yes, Atlas subluxation can be fixed. Typically, the best course of action isn't a typical manual manipulation. That's because the abrupt force can do more harm than good.


When the Atlas is misaligned, there can be compressions at the skull base to the medulla and nerves. As a result, this inflamed area leads to a series of symptoms due to the interruption of the brain-body signals. Since the Atlas is delicate and near the brain, gentle force is needed for treatment. As a result, we recommend proper Atlas orthogonal treatment.


How Atlas Orthogonal Treatment Works

If you're curious how the atlas orthogonal technique works, we'll cover the steps involved and what to expect.

Atlas Orthogonal Therapy Treatment

Step 1: After a thorough examination and review of the patient's health history, there is an initial inspection for atlas misalignment by measuring the patient's leg length. One leg could appear shorter because a misaligned upper cervical alters the body and spine. Often, one leg isn't shorter than the other leg, but it's drawn short due to the body's overcompensation for the misaligned Atlas.


Step 2: After this evaluation, it's necessary that we take accurate x-rays. These X-rays identify and map out the Atlas in their misaligned position. Additionally, it shows the upper cervical chiropractor exactly how it is misplaced. Through these unique x-rays, the specific angles to correct the Atlas at a neutral position are determined. Like a fingerprint, x-rays are unique to each patient and important in making the most precise correction to the Atlas.


Step 3: Your upper cervical chiropractor then corrects the Atlas using a special Atlas Orthogonal Precision Adjusting Instrument. This instrument uses the dynamics and laws of percussion force. As the patient lies down on one side, the chiropractor positions the tip of the instrument under the patient's earlobe, just barely grazing the skin. The tip doesn't move when the atlas adjustment is delivered. There is a weight released into the head of the instrument called the stylus, which sends an energy wave through the tip and transfers to the patient's atlas bone. This energy wave helps to effectively place the Atlas in a more orthogonal (neutral) position. Consequently, the patient won't feel any discomfort during the procedure.

Step 4: Following the adjustment, the chiropractor immediately will feel the rear of the patient's skull and neck. The chiropractor is determining the effectiveness of the adjustment. With a proper correction and realignment, the tenderness and pain experienced before will significantly decrease or even entirely. Some patients claim immediate pain relief, while others may experience soreness for a day or two before the symptoms go away.


Step 5: One of the most important steps are post-x-rays used. These are taken immediately after the first treatment. There isn't any guesswork in this particular treatment. These three-dimensional x-rays are taken and then analyzed to verify that the correction was a success. The doctor may show the patient the comparison between before and after x-ray images. Post-x-rays are an illustration of the exact change that has taken place because of the Atlas orthogonal correction.


What Happens After an Atlas Adjustment

An atlas adjustment can be quite profound and have a long-lasting impact. Each patient is unique in how their body responds. There are many factors that affect what happens after the initial adjustment. This includes how long your Atlas has been out, diet, physical fitness, age, and lifestyle choices.


When our Atlas and spine are misaligned, our muscles will adapt to the bones being out of position. When proper alignment is achieved, the muscles will revert back to the optimal position. At the beginning of care, patients are seen more frequently to retrain muscle memory. Once patients start holding their adjustments, they are seen less and less often.


How Long Does it Take to Fix Subluxation?

When the Atlas is initially adjusted, the body will respond to the new alignment. This can take time; some patients feel that their symptoms are alleviated almost immediately after an adjustment. In contrast, some patients feel pain as the body begins to shift back into alignment. As the body heals, you may experience sleepiness or fatigue in the muscles.


These symptoms normally dissipate quickly and aren't anything to be concerned about. How long the body takes to recover after the procedure depends on the severity of the patient's condition.

Atlas Subluxation Complex Treatment Options

If you suffer from neck pain, the atlas orthogonal treatment may be right for you. Discuss the Atlas orthogonal treatment with your chiropractor to start your path to living a pain-free life.


Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for Atlas Subluxation Complex

The Atlas orthogonal treatment takes a holistic approach to alleviating neck pain and treating a misaligned Atlas. Correcting the out-of-position Atlas can have reverberating effects on the entire body, supporting recovery from injuries, and can improve many aspects of a patient's health. Correcting and realigning the Atlas can have many positive effects, such as improving joint movement, alleviating the common symptoms experienced by the patient, reducing stress, and even treating back pain.


The Atlas orthogonal technique is a painless and gentle technique that stands out from other chiropractic procedures and manipulations. Rather than twisting or applying abrupt force, the upper cervical chiropractor uses an x-ray to identify the precise angle and delivers a gentle yet highly effective adjustment.


At Natural Care Chiropractic, we look after our clients and provide non-invasive pain management carried out by skilled practitioners of chiropractic care. Using the Atlas orthogonal treatment, we can identify and correct the source of the ailment, thus addressing the root cause. Our chiropractic treatment plans are specifically tailored to your condition and health history to ensure you receive the proper care that you need.

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