Symptoms and Signs of Atlas Subluxation

Edited Feb 14 2013


Please be aware that the following list is a list of all possible complications and their anatomical and physiological basis and that few people with this condition will have a full hand of symptoms.

However, a proper understanding of anatomy and physiology of the upper cervical area and brainstem should be enough to make it clear that all of the symptoms listed below are predictable given a large enough subluxation.

The joint between the skull and the neck is designed for nodding movements, and it has been documented that the maximum rotation expected on turning well to the left or right is about 3-4 degrees.

The worst case I have seen was a rotatory subluxation of about 25 degrees demonstrated on a CT upper cervical spine. I was dismayed that the radiologist who reported it failed to note the abnormality. I would observe that this probably happened because such subluxations are not regarded as possible within allopathic medicine- and he was not looking for it. I did get the satisfaction of an amended report after conversation with the radiologist involved.

Most symptoms will be intermittent, and at least partially resolve when the patient is fit and active, so there will be great variability between patients. I have had experience with most of these symptoms being relieved in patients I have seen.

Physical and radiological examination will provide clear cut evidence of the existence of the condition.

Mechanical Symptoms

  1. Headaches- often involving the base of the skull, and referring to the sides of the head and around the sinuses.
  2. Migraines, often with marked agitation and nausea.
  3. Neck pains and stiffness and difficulty finding a comfortable position on the pillow at night.
  4. Sometimes crackling or grating noises at the base of the skull when turning the head. Often there are associated shoulder pains, especially between the shoulder blades.
  5. Jaw joint pains or dysfunction. Clicking jaw.
  6. Chest wall pain- due to the distortion of the ribcage
  7. Low back pain and/or disc injuries due to abnormal posture.
  8. Nerve root irritations at any level.
  9. Pains or injuries in one hip, knee or ankle, often repeated injuries to one side of the body.
  10. Patients may be told they have one leg shorter than the other.

Symptoms based on nerve and blood vessel compromise.

Vagus nerve: Nausea, heartburn, irritable bowel, constipation, vasovagal (fainting/near fainting) episodes, probably infantile colic. Cough and voice problems

Internal Jugular Vein and venous drainage of the skull via the foramen magnum: tiredness, mental fogginess (often subtle and this may well contribute to the mental fogginess in ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and depression). References:


It is of interest that current research into multiple sclerosis has raised the possibility of venous congestion of the brain having a causative role in that condition.

Dizziness- often subtle and hard to describe, and mild incoordination /clumsiness.

Note that these symptoms are likely to be related to disturbed inputs to the Vestibular/proprioceptive (balance) system caused by nerve impingements, and excess tension in some muscles and on some joints. It is likely that the actual atlas subluxation causes some brainstem injury at the time of the injury.

Tingling or burning fingers or toes- usually migratory and intermittent.

Sympathetic Nervous System:

There are multiple reasons to believe that atlas subluxations may cause sympathetic overactivation (stress response): Poor balance itself is a cause of sympathetic overactivation, also the traction on the brain stem caused by the typical head forward posture of most people with the injury activates a stress response, and there may be further impacts on sympathetic ganglia (nerve cell clusters) that lie close to the spine along the whole length of the spine.

Symptoms would include chronic anxiety and impulsiveness, fine tremor, raised heart rate

It is arguable that chronic sympathetic overactivationmay be lead to:

a)gut problems due to chronic diversion of blood flow away from the gut into the muscles which may well be contributory to peptic ulcers, food allergies ( via increased gut permeability)

b) Adrenal gland activation and chronic over production of cortisone as an expected consequence of chronic sympathetic (stress) response. Adrenal fatigue as a downstream consequence of this.

c) unstable attention- as the body is effectively being given a warning to loo for threat in the environment.

It is arguable that chronic sympathetic activation might be contributory to immune suppression, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, disturbed sleep and depression.

Disturbed sleep:

This is a common complication in our experience and may be contributed to by neck discomfort at night, by sympathetic over-activation, or by a number of brain stem effects caused by alteration in balance inputs into the nervous system.. In a number of patients the neck discomfort has triggered tooth grinding which has improved after treatment.


The physical signs of atlanto- occipital subluxation are straightforward, and the diagnosis can usually be confirmed without investigations.

Posture- the head is carried forwards of the shoulders. ( In healthy posture the centre of the shoulder joint is vertically directly below the ear canals).

The patient may also have a degree of hunch or a sway back.

The patient will have great difficulty straightening up to hold his head in correct position.

The front on view will often clearly indicate the problem. The head may be tilted to one side, and the neck rotated a few degrees or so off straight ahead.

The midline of the trunk may not be vertical.

One shoulder will be higher than the other.

Often the pelvis will visibly be off level as well (Usually high on the side of the low shoulder).

From the back the difference in the level of the shoulders will be more apparent, and one shoulder should be pushed out to the back. The head, shoulders, and hips may be out of alignment (viewed from above).

The neck will almost always be tender just below the ears and behind the jaw. It may be possible to feel that the neck bone is closer to the jaw on one side than the other. Postural issues, muscle spasm, or a “bull neck” can make this sign difficult to identify. However the joint between the atlas and the skull is not one at which rotation naturally occurs (beyond about 3-4 degrees at the extremes of neck rotation) so this sign is always abnormal if found.

About MindBody

Medical Practitioner. Special interests: application of mindfulness based treatments to counseling, treatment of Adult ADHD, musculoskeletal medicine. The interface between complementary and conventional medicine. Barriers to adoption of new knowledge and paradigms within established institutions.
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77 Responses to Symptoms and Signs of Atlas Subluxation

  1. Carmon LaSarge says:

    I have been having a lot of these sypmtoms. Ive been to a chiropractor and have had 2 cervical MRIs and ive been told nothing so far. Its getting very hard to deal with on a daily basis. Its quite scary at times as well. I dont know what i should do!??

    • MindBody says:

      You need better communication with your practitioner re his her formulation of your diagnosis and treatment plan.

    • Janet Weigand says:

      Find another chiropractor. They are not all competent. My subluxations in C1 and C2 were life altering and caused major migranes and thought and vision disruptions that caused me to be non-functional in excruciating pain. The key to resolution was a one hour therapeutic massage of head, including jaw, neck and upper back. Proper realignment of C1 and C2, which were causing major pressure and swelling of brain stem. Ice therapy, followed by an additional hour massage immediately afterwards. I went from non-functional to normal functional in about 3 hours after this course of therapy.

      • MindBody says:

        Well said. No profession is completely free of inadequate practitioners. That very much applies to conventional medicine too.

      • Janet says:

        Yes ypu are correct. What i find curious is that if people go to bad conventional MD they will look for another but if they go to bad Chiropractor they give up and say it doesnt work.

      • anja says:

        that’s great. where do you live and who did you see?

      • anja says:

        who did you see to adjust c1 and c2?

      • Anja says:

        Janet you had this done at kempsville chiropractic and are better now?

      • Darcy says:

        Hello, I just read your post. I would really appreciate knowing where you received this therapy. I have had chronic neck pain for twenty years. Right now it is very bad. All of the symptoms I can relate to. I would be so thankful for an answer to my symptoms. I believe this post is a year old but if you read this please let me know where you received this treatment. I would fly there! I live near Seattle, WA now. Thank you, Darcy

      • anja says:

        janet can you email me? i wanted to hear about your recovery. my email is thanks!.anja

      • Darcy Herrett says:

        Hi Janet, I am having many of these symptoms and have had chronic neck pain for eighteen years. Could you tell me what practitioner you went to that resolved your issues and where they are located? I am currently going to a NUCCA chiropractor and decided this weekend not to go to the final two adjustments because my neck pain has actually gotten worse as a result of going. He is a good doctor for others but most work on my neck unless it is extremely gentle causes my symptoms to become much worse for about three weeks. I would really appreciate any suggestions anyone can give me as to how to resolve my neck pain. I have tried many, many healing modalities and none of them have given me relief for a while now. Thanks for any guidance any of you can offer. Darcy

      • MindBody says:

        I can shed a little more light on this issue of chronic spasm.
        The spasm is involuntary muscle guarding as the muscles brace to protect the cervical spinal cord from injury.
        I have been working with a chiropractor who specialises in functional neurology for some years now, and am well aware that I have had longstanding deficits of body awareness especially in the right upper quadrant. These were easily demonstrated on the more sophisticated chiropractic neurological examination that was done on me. (Us doctors have a LOT to learn).
        However- due to a combination of QiGong, and some rhythm related meditation with great emphasis on balance and exact awareness of foot placement I actually tuned off the neck spasm and pain about 3 weeks ago. This is quite a remarkable result- and I now understand that the basic problem was one of my brain receiving mismatching sets of visual, proprioceptive, tactile and vestibular information– and getting very overloaded.

        The other nice aspect of this is that it has completely turned off the last of my ADHD symptoms- and it happened virtually in an instant. I am now looking at a way of simplifying and operatonalising these findings to make them more widely applicable.

      • Anja says:

        Hi Janet,

        Which doctor did you see at kempsville? Looks like a great place. Thank you. Anja

    • Lillian says:

      Hi…I just had a specific XRay for the head neck and have seen how C1 is tweaked.
      Will your chiro adjust your C1? Not all will do this.
      Good luck.

      • MindBody says:

        As per my reply to Meredith:
        Other options are to be found through the “NUCCA” website and also any practitioner of Sacro-occipital technique should be able to remedy the problem without excessive force.

    • Meredith says:

      I am currently on the healing path of an undetected (by MD and Radiologist ) of C-1 subluxation and during this time in trying to ‘rule things out’ I went to my sisters Lyme Literate Doctor to be tested via the Western Blot processed by IgeneX. While I was hoping that I would be able to rule Lyme out, I unfortunately had a positive test result. So I am dealing with the Physiological Great Imitator as well as the Pathogenic Great Imitator …….taking one day at a time. I agree to other posts find a competent Atlas Orthogonist to share your images etc. I know several if you need their information :). Nutrition both with Food and Supplements and a natural anti – inflammatory are very helpful in lowering pain levels……..I have a lot of info so if you would like to contact me you can at – Take care of Yourself :) ~ namaste ~ Merry

      • MindBody says:

        Other options are to be found through the “NUCCA” website and also any practitioner of Sacro-occipital technique should be able to remedy the problem without excessive force.

    • Teresa Zweber says:

      You must see an Upper Cervical Chiropractor. There are but a few of these specialist.
      I am fortunate to see one in my locale, Bloomington Minnesota. David Philips is his name.

  2. Graeme says:

    thanks for the blog you are describing something that I have been managing for 25 years. I have been describing the first 5 symptoms to doctors forever without getting any closer to a solution. I have done the rounds from naturopath to neurosurgeon and come up short on treatment options. Not sure what can be done but a relief that I might finally be able to pin point a reason

  3. Jack Russell says:

    What was key here for me was, “The neck will almost always be tender just below the ears and behind the jaw. It may be possible to feel that the neck bone is closer to the jaw on one side than the other.”
    I had already diagnosed this in myself. I backed into the diagnosis in a roundabout way, but the day I cradled my head in my hands pressing in with my thumbsjust below and behind the ears did I feel the misalignment of the atlas (the left side did not feel like the right side). I could feel a slight bony-like projection on my left side, but for the life of me no matter how much I searched find any such structure on the right side (no matter how deep I explored with my thumb). Therefore, I pressed extremely hard on the left side trying to force the bone to the right back into place. I used a hard plastic case, using the heal of my left hand to push against it while bracing the neck on the right with my right hand. I had some success but the bone would always float back to the left. Finally this morning while lying in bed I once again used the plastic case, but this time positioned it very tightly and immediately below the mastoid process on the left side. I positioned my right palm over the mastoid on the right. Pushing with the left palm on the plastic case while resisting with the right hand and at the same time trying my best to relax the neck muscles. Guess what? I can now feel the bone on the right side. The left and right sides feel the same. This has not been the case.
    Now going forward I will need to maintain the ground I have taken and build on this success. I am now hoping that my sleep will improve and with it my energy level and love for life. I cannot expect this one thing to make all the difference. It will take effort on my part but I am hoping this small change will be the tipping point for me to move in a positive direction.

    • MindBody says:

      I am glad that the information was useful.
      If you could manage to settle it yourself you were lucky- most cannot.
      I certainly would not recommend that anyone try to repeat the exercise themselves!!
      My blog needs major revision, as my biggest discovery has been that the original injury caused brainstem injury that left me with long term balance and co-ordination issues.
      It has taken me years to get on top of these.
      I am finally getting close- but I must stress that the aim is to achieve an upright, flexible posture and good eye hand co-ordination.
      By “Upright” I mean SO upright that your ear canals, the centre of your shoulder joints and the centre of your hip joints lie in the one vertical plane.
      This takes quite a bit of work- but the rewards in term of ability to remain calm and focussed are huge.
      The reason this blog has remained anonymous has been the serious hostility I have faced from my local colleagues when I bring this matter up for public discussion.
      That matter is close to being resolved, and when it is, I hope to have time to give more information on the blog.
      For the meantime- it is well worth your while to go to the site and look up a talk by the chiropractor Ian Niven on “visual suppression of the vestibular system”, another one by randy beck on “Clinical correlates of traumatic brain injury” and another by Matthew Holmes on “Cervical dystonia following central nervous system injury – a case study highlighting the functional neurology approach”. it costs $20 to subscribe for 1 month- but is worthwhile.

      • Cameron says:

        I had a quick question. What was your original injury that caused the sublaxation that left you with permanent brain steam injury? Thanks

      • MindBody says:

        It would appear to have been a birth injury caused by forceps delivery- looking at childhood co-ordination and irritability issues..
        See the Biedermann book I have referenced.
        I am doing specific exercises designed to correct the brainstem problem- a slow process, but progressively successful.
        (Functional neurology- a new branch of chiropractic- still somewhat controversial with the conventional medical profession, but I am clear as to my improvements in reflexes, coordination and regulation of the stress response. Thankfully I have the anatomical knowledge and clinical skills to assess this- but this is an area where individuals must do their own research and make their own decisions).

  4. Janet says:

    I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Kempsville Chiropractic

    • Janet says:

      Anja. Yes. I have been going to Kempsville Chiropractic. Great doctors there. That is where i received the adjustment and massage therapy.

  5. Lillian DeBernardi says:

    Hi..dealing with balance/lightheaded ness for many years. Probably examined by at least
    100 Chiropractors over the past 20 years..but never an atlas expert.
    Any suggestions for one near Santa Barbara CA.?

    • MindBody says:

      The site is worth looking at. Also,the whole question of full postural and neurological rehabilitation once the atlas injury is corrected is relevant.There area group of chiropractors who specialise in what is called functional neurology.The Carrick institute in the USA is the main centre of this approach.

  6. maria says:

    wow these symptoms ring true for me too. I’m 26 and have been having headaches like this since i was 9. i have been to SA for arteriole surgery for the painful blood vessels in my head and i was totally dependent on sumatriptan everyday for the last 3 years. It has reduced the headaches by 50% but my neck just won’t settle and the pain is constant some times worse and i need sumatriptan (x8 doses in x1 year…apposed to 75 doses every three months), sometimes just a nurophen and codine will kick it. I now also take nanalol for my heart to stop it releasing adrenalin all the time and i am feeling much calmer and no longer have ‘emotion’ as a headache trigger. I am off to my doc tomorrow to talk about this atlas business…..and hopefully it i can crossed another thing off my list as ‘solved': blood vessels – solved, emotional upheaval/anxiety/anger/crying – solved, food- solved, exercise- solved, muscles neck/head/face/chest/arms…. to be continued. Then I’m done and can have some babies :)

    • MindBody says:

      I wish that my doctors had picked this problem u in me years ago. There is a serious turf war going on between chiropractors and doctors and the existence (or not) of this condition, has become the sacrificial lamb in a fight for professional supremacy between doctors and chiropractors.
      Be sure that your advisor is well informed of all sides of the argument before committing.

      • anja says:

        so true. I went orthopedist who told me subluxation did not exist. yet I have just about every symptom you list. then two chiros confirmed I have c1 and c2 rotation. going to a nucca board certified doctor on monday. atlas gave me some results..looking for more healing. blessings for your site. anja

      • MindBody says:

        Your orthopedist is too ignorant to be fit to comment.

  7. Roger says:

    Can atlas and axis subulations be fixed on a long term basis at least rather than a life long manipulation therapy with a chiro or physio? Can disorientation, cloggy ears, depression, head pressure, tense masseter, tinnitus, noise sensitivity, noise anxiety be symptoms?

    • MindBody says:

      All of the above can be symptoms.
      I found my major atlas subluxation was nicely fixed by one treatment with Atlas Profilax, but that correcting the rest of the spine and relearning abberant movement patterns related to my old scoliosis has been a much slower process.

  8. Roger says:

    So does atlas profilax actually work or is it a placebo?

  9. Anja says:

    Is there anyway mind body can call me? My email is .

    Thanks! Anja

  10. Brenda says:

    Hi. Reading all of your comments has definitely made me feel better and bit less scared of my condition. I have been dealing with vertigo, stiff neck/back, balance issues, anxiety, etc. due to subluxation of my atlas, c1, c2, c3 and going to my chiropractior is stressful because I don’t like all the pressure and manipulation on my ear and head area. It is scary! I just want to get better soon as I am frustrated and cry to muvh lately it seems.

  11. vivian says:

    this website is EXCELLENT. in my humble opinion a subluxation to the atlas/axis due to head trauma could be the leading cause of parkinson’s disease CBD and Progressive supranuclear palsy, yep my opinion, and upper cervical chiropractic would be of major benefit, fortunatly there is not a drug sorry chemical that going to help with these conditions, chiropractors are mainly scorned upon, i’ve learned a lot over the last year about PSP, but yeah great info here.

    • MindBody says:

      Stay tuned, there is much more information to come.
      My experience is that I was badly injured by my profession’s foolish insistence that us doctors knew everything and chiropractors knew nothing.
      Unfortunately to even voice that opinion in Australia is to risk the wrath of some very senior and powerful figures in the medical profession who are attempting to get chiropractic courses driven out of Australian Universities.
      If I could pin this ignorance down to one individual, I would gladly sue for damages.

  12. petal says:

    I developed a very severe twist in my neck, jaw and spine after traumatic treatment from a chiro that has left me with some disability and neurological probems too. I had some Nuccu upper cervical x rays done which showed what the doctor described as one of the worst C1 subluxations they had seen in all directions. I have the xrays and I can see things there really do look wrong to me also.
    However I had some cervical flexion and extension xrays taken by a surgeon. He held my head in position to do them and forced my head forward and backward. He said he saw nothing to concern him whatsoever with the bone alignment and the twist and head pulling over was all down to a muscular issue. I am confused as if the muscles are in so much spasm I fail to see how the bones can be in alignment and also to how it differs to what I see from My Nucca xrays.

    Who do I listen to? The Nucca doctor or the ortho guy. Do I get adjustments of massage? Any advice most welcome. Thanks so much

    • vivian says:

      I would carry on seeing the upper cervical chiropractic, after all it was he/she who told you that the atlas/c1 was subluxated and they won’t be giving you silly chemicals sorry medication for the pain, as the neck is the junction of the body and brain, if excess tension or cervical misaligments exist, they can press on nerves in the neck to cause any number of symptoms, also ask the chiropractor to work on your nerve junctions and trigger points on your body to loosen tight muscles which would lessen the pain that radiates throughout the body,

    • MindBody says:

      The NUCCA chiropractor is likely to be more experienced in this area.
      However,anomalous neuromuscular activity does develop and maintain this problem, and may need further work to deal with it.
      Chiropractors are well trained to deal with this.

  13. petal says:

    Thanks for the replies you two. I did receive upper cervical adjustments over several months but they wouldn’t hold, hence why I saw an orthopedist. However he was quick to dismiss the seriousness of my body distortions and just told me I was holding this way due to pain which isn’t the case. My body just twisted uncontrollably after neck and pelvic adjustments. I now have a reversed lordosis and my head is locked down and twisted to the left also. A complete neurological mess. I don’t know where to turn as no one has ever seen this so severe before. I have tried cranial, dentistry, myofascial release, scenar plus more. I am desperate to know if there is anyone out there who will be able to help. I also know I have cranial distortions as proven by my dental molds. Do I focus more on the that, the atlas or body work? Also would profilax be too severe for a major subluxation. I am scared of how I would react to it being addressed all in one go. Any thoughts and thanks again.

  14. vivian says:

    Hello Petal
    It can take some time for the adjustments to hold, your neck has become accustomed to being
    in this position.
    May i ask, what type of adjustment did the chiropractor do to cause your problems?
    The NUCCA chiropractors do not ‘crack or ‘pop your neck or spine and would be the most
    Benefical to your needs.

  15. Michelle says:

    Hi I have had many of the problems that many of you have mentioned and recently had an mri to confirm that the lump under my ear is indeed the transverse process of the C1 which clearly is more dominant on the left than the right. On the MRI you can clearly see the subluxation. The scan place noted that it is 2mm off the midline. Other than that all ok so the doctor says there is nothing that can be done about it. I have been contemplating having the Atlasprofilax procedure. I live in Sydney and there is one near Wollongong. I however are too worried that I might end up worse. Any thoughts, Michelle

    • Teresa Zweber says:

      Hello from Minnesota USA. Medical doctors don’t seem to have answers. In regard to the Atlasprofilax, why don’t you ask my upper cervical chiropractor. Here is his e-mail. He is really nice and compassionate individual.

    • MindBody says:

      As far as the doctor’s comments are gone, very few doctors are often even aware that the condition exists. I have had quite a number of patients had a plain X Ray or CT with specific reference to the relevant joint, and every single subluxation has been missed. In most cases the radiologist has been resistant to requests to amend their report and I have had to spend considerable time speaking to them to get the report amended.

      Now as far as Atlas Profilax goes- my medical defence organisation has warned me that they would not insure me for any incidents involving Atlas Profilax- as the practitioners were not registered by AHPRA.I would comment though that they clearly arrived at that decision without having done due diligence on the subject and they refused to look at further information I offered to supply. My own experience of Atlas Profilax is that I have personally referred a good number of patients (about 100) all of whom did well. Another doctor I know has referred about the same number and those 200 recommended the treatment to their friends- resulting in about 200 more referrals- so I have seen a good case load.

      However not all Atlas Profilax practitioners are trained enough to take people through the ongoing bodywork required to correct chronic postural issues associated with a longstanding atlas injury (these include fascial contractures, arthritic facet joints in the spine, sometimes spinal crush fractures and collapsed discs, and longstanding abberant patterns of movement. In this regard a good upper cervical or sacro-occipital proctitioner is the best option.

      I would also disagree that Atlas Profilax is “the only” procedure that can correct the malalignment, and that atlas malalingments that have been corrected by Atlas Profilax always stay in place.

      My own personal experience was that I had a rotatory misalignment of about 25 degrees and that the atlas profilax corrected that in a way that was uncomfortable but not painful, certainly did not seem risky, and produced an immediate result.

      However- correcting my posture fully has been a big job and is taking a long while – and minor recurrent subluxations do occur. For those I have definitely found chiropractic effective and safe, and also more affordable than repeat episodes of Atlas Profilax.

      What I would like to see would be more collaboration and less competition between Atlas Profilax and other manual and manipulative therapy traditions.

      So- to answer your question- it really is something that you have to decide for yourself, but there is enough information there re safety.
      Look especially at the atlantotec website– “their technique”- is actually virtually identical to Atlas Profilax– in fact I am told by an Atlas Profilax practitioner that they are a breakaway group from Atlas Profilax. However- they do have a study of 500 patients published on their website.

      • Michelle Ryland says:

        I take it you are not in Sydney otherwise you would be able to recommend some people in Sydney for ongoing chiropractic treatment. I really think I should try this as my 13year old daughter is showing signs as well. She was forceps delivery, at about age 8 fell off a bunk bed and hurt the side of her head then at the beginning of this year dove head first into the shallow end of a pool and twisted her body on impact. She has always been unco-ordinated as a child and this last year has had rib and chest pains, neck tension etc. She has just started high school and carrying heavy bags laden with books so all the practioners I take her to say that may be the cause of neck problems. I really feel now that I must have the atlasprofilax treatment and “test” the result on myself first. I would like to find a good chiro first to have follow up treatments. Anyone know of one in the Hills District of Sydney.

      • MindBody says:

        I really can’t provide treatment recommendations without seeing somebody as that would constitute providing medical advice.
        However, I have found that good chiropractors provide more comprehensive treatment than Atlas Profilax, that only fixes the one 9very important joint).
        I have done enough research to be confident of sacro-occipital chiropractors and specific upper cervical chiropractors.
        See and to find practitioners.
        It sounds like an XRay would be in order.
        As for heavy school bags- they will definitely make things worse- though the postural deformity caused by an atlas subluxation leaves one shoulder sitting up high- and people then prefer to use that shoulder to carry bags as the bag doesn’t fall off. An odd aside is that women always complain of the bra strap on the low shouler falling off and can never figure out wh until shown their posture.

  16. Kir says:

    Hi, love this page, so informative. I have a question I hope you can answer. I have had chronic neck problems, apparently since birth. I was a forceps baby, then as a toddler I was accidentally dropped on my head onto a cement floor. A few years after that, neck froze after doing a summersault and I also had pulled a full length mirror over on top of me around 4 years old, which left me unconscious for hours. As a teen and adult, was involved in about three different car accidents. Fast forward to today and I have been dx with an Atlas subluxation, disc degeneration, along with bulging/herniated discs and reversing of c curve. Have had chiro done off and on for years but not consistently enough I guess to make a difference. Today I had a consult with a new chiro who I really like. He agrees that my neck is a mess.

    My question to you is this, i have suffered for about 20 years now with a laundry list of symptoms. Many of them I am sure can be attributed to the Atlas issue and new chiro agrees. My primary issues now that making my life a living hell are allergies (which only started about 4 years ago), asthma (also started about 4 years ago), dizziness, vertigo, motion sickness, panic attacks, hear papks, etc. that come out of seemingly nowhere, etc. Chiro thinks these are probably Atlas related. However I also have suffered from chronic candida, leaky gut, digestive issues, etc, for around 20 years, viruses, bacterial infections, etc. I am 47 now, i have done the diets, anti-fungals etc., and nothing has helped. I read on another Atlas blog that the Atlas can lead to dysbiosis, due to a redirection of blood flow away from the gut. Do you feel that the Atlas can be the cause of candida and/or leaky gut in any way and do you have any suggestions on how to remedy it once snd for all? As I said, I have done the diets, probiotics, anti-fungals etc., all to no avail. I’m pretty desperate, tired of being fat and tired, and of eating such limited things. Thanks.

    • MindBody says:

      Hi- this is only my best guess, as I am still digesting huge chunks of new information.
      Look at this webpage:

      So the issue here is that we know via the work of Heiner Biedermann and his colleagues (see Manual Therapy in Children) that the atlas problem is well and truly linked to balance/vestibular issues– and that there is a direct link between balance issues and stress/ anxiety.
      The latest information is that a dysregulated stress response will lead to an imbalance between the helper and suppressor sides of the immune system (and that is putting it very crudely)– so asthma and allergies are likely to be part of the broader picture.
      Re gut– the problems with chronic stress will divert blood flow away from the gut. The immune dysregulation is likely also to substantially increase the number of infections you get, and to increase your chances of being treated with antibiotics. Both impaired blood flow to the gut (via impairment of mucosal permeability and also altered gut motility and acidity), and increased antibiotics should be expected to be risk factors for intestinal dysbiosis &/or leaky gut. This problem in turn will further compromise good health and emotional regulation.

      I would concur with your chiro (though still have trouble formally proving this as comprehensively as I would like).
      However – with the atlas– when it is back in place– the rest of the issue is the small problem of keeping it back in place. My atlas was first corrected at age 47 by the supposedly one time Atlas Profilax- but my posture was distorted, my movement patterns were problematic and I am stuck with too much time at the computer.So- after another 4 years- I am pretty sure the problem is now fixed.I can certainly sense if it goes out and fix it very fast- and am now back in place and stable for the vast majority of the time.

      Re Infections- I used to get 8 upper respiratory infections a year- (as a doctor I am in the firing line). I have had one or two in the 4+ years since the atlas was corrected by Atlas Profilax (which I regard as a good method, but not quite as good as its promotional material!)

      • Kir says:

        Thanks for your reply, I just found your page again. Do you have any recommendations about how to go about finding upper cervical chiros in one’s area? I live in a suberb of Los Angeles and you’d think here, there would be one on every street corner. Sadly, the few I have been able to find are NUCCA’s and while I think they do help, they refuse to adjust anything other than the Atlas, and require you to pay for several months of treatment up front, which I think is very shady. I don’t know one person, myself included, who can afford to do that. And since insurance will not cover NUCCA, it’s incredibly unaffordable. If there is anyone in my area on here who can recommend someone, please leave a note here. Thanks.

      • MindBody says:

        Hi- I really do not know the details of practitioners in the US.
        I have found that I have got the best value from sacro-occipital chiropractic. They have a whole spine approach and gentle techniques.
        I do note slow progress at the atlas area with some of my patients- and wonder if they might need one or two specific upper cervical adjustments.
        These problems are complex and do not lend themselves to single treatment approaches in most cases- and any practitioner should be up front about that.
        I expect my practitioners to be able to give me a good explanation of what progress they expect, and what clinical features tell them when it is time to change course.
        I am happy for practitioners to offer a discount for a course of treatment versus session by session- but I would not personally be keen on paying up front for months of treatment. For a start- what if they get sick/die/go out of business?

      • Janet Weigand says:

        Try this link to find chiropractor in US:

  17. Kir says:

    Sorry for the typos. IPad typing is not my forte.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I have all the symptoms from a fall(head trauma) a few months ago. Been to several dr/dentist and physical therapy and was going to be having braces put on in hopes it was severe tmj and that would correct. Pain was so severe I couldn’t complete my usual daily task and with two children that wasn’t acceptable. Went to chiro and he did X-rays to find my atlas was rotated 4 of the 5 it can rotate. He adjusted and after initial mild soreness that lasted about a day I started to feel so much better. Now, a few days later I’m having allot of weird pressure at base of my skull, last night I couldn’t for anything find a comfortable place to sleep and had a weird feeling of my head falling forward so I would hold my hand to my fore head while walking etc but that feeling is a little better this morning. Also having dizzy spells but it’s so weird. Pain is more pressure than pain and now I don’t know what to do, and honestly I can’t seem to find anything telling me the significance of it having turned 4/5. Any comments would be great I know this is old but looking for any help I can get.

    • MindBody says:

      See my reply to Darcy Herrett.
      I would guess that the adjustment left you with a sudden change in the mix of proprioceptive data being recieved by your brain- and that confusion is the cause of the problem. Persistinng with care is obviously important- but I think that the big thing we have to be looking at is ways to improve sensory integration– and that means things like qi gong, or maybe more formal sorts of dance or acrobatic type training.
      Qi Gong is good because it is gentle and does not require a complex set of equipment etc to do it.

    • Janet says:

      You may need weks of adjustments to keep it in place. Chiropractic is an ongoing out and can almost pinpoint process to keep your spine in alignment. Without injury at least a couple times a month. With injury and at the beginning of my treatment I had to go 3 times a week. You will get to the point once your spine stays in alignment that you can feel it almost instantly when it comes out.

  19. Dustin says:

    I have almost all the symptoms listed above. My question is I checked the spots below my ears and behind my jaw on both sides and the side on the left was hard. Could that be the bone? Also the muscles on the left side of my neck seems to be swollen because they are harder then the muscles on the right. Can anyone else relate?

    • MindBody says:

      Yes- this is all characteristic of the problem.
      I have been looking at a new technique called “atlas balancing”- while I hve no idea at all of the efficacy of this treatment, one of its practitioners has an excellent series of vidos demonstrating the way to find the position of the atlas, and how to find a malaligned one:
      All 4 short videos are worth watching.

  20. Kir says:

    Oh, a few symptoms I thought you might want to add to your list….pelvis, knee and ankle instability. All of these are always popping in and out of place, causing me to stumble. My current, non upper cervical chiro said this is most likely due to the Atlas. Massive brain fog, tinnitus, and head pressure as well. Do you know if bursitis can be caused by an Atlas subluxation? I have bad bursitis in my hips, thighs, low back, etc., preventing me from sleeping on my side or laying down. I have to sleep on the sofa with my head elevated, due to the bursitis pain, asthma and reflux. I miss bed. Thanks.

    • MindBody says:

      It it typical for any person with an atlas malalignment to also have issues at the sacro-iliac joint destabilising it and leading to an apparent leg shortening on one side and excessive loading of the “longer” leg.
      That overloaded leg will bear much more weight than the other one and be more prone to injury. Also significant is the fact that on the shortened side the knee and the hip are both thrown into external rotation and the foot pronates.
      All of the above contribute to orthopedic problems at multiple levels.

      To make matters even more complex- issues at the level of the foot, the sacro-iliac joints and also the temporomandibular (jaw) joint can feed back and destabilise the atlas.

      While my initial Atlas Profilax treatment vastly improved my neck issues eleswhere continually destabilised it again.

      In the end it has taken a year of work with a socro-occipital chiropractor to really resolve those issues, and that work has been assisted with other bodywork- initially yoga, but now specifically qi gong. It has also required expensive proprioceptive insoles. Now- after about a decade of difficulty with pain in bed at night due to multiple spinal issues- things are finally improving and I am sleeping through, and sometimes even waking with no stiffness. That has been a long time coming.

      So the short answer is that the problems you describe need acomprehensive approach, and a determined persistent attitude.
      As much as is possible I minimise analgesic use- and take the attitude that the pain is informing me that I am misusing my body.
      That is, after all what the pain signalling mechanism is meant to do!

      • Anja says:

        I had symptoms when I hit my head at a park with my daughter. Took three months but I started getting jaw click, vertigo, ear and eye issues, neck pain constantly, nausea, brain fog, it took me forever to figure out I have atlas subluxation……..thought it was tmj……..then I had X-ray and was told my atlas and axis were rotated. The best success I had has been with a nucca practitioner……have not seem him Often enough.this summer I plan on bumping it too three times a week. Some days I feel great…..others just awful. It’s so odd. Last night when I laid down I felt nausea and some vertigo..?But felt good all day. It gets frustrating…..yet I know I can heal. I have spoken to people who have for upcspine site. Thanks for everyone’s posts. Plan on getting vestibular testing in two weeks as well.


  21. Michelle says:

    Hi Guys, just want to let you know I actually had the atlasprofilax and I haven’t had any great improvement. When the practitioner did it the apparatus used just felt like a vibrating pad. She pushed hard and I had sore neck muscles for a day but other than that, no change. I will go back to get her to recheck it. Bit disappointed I guess.

  22. Barbara says:

    For those still searching there is a group of “Upper Cervical Progressive” chiropractors who have improved upon the NUCCA method and are calling theirs “QSM3″ (Quantum Spinal Mechanics 3). It might be worth a try for some of you who have not had success with other treatments. I send you all hopes that your solution may be found.

  23. Christine says:

    @ kir — hi! Just finished reading med surg textbooks and scientific studies about the spine and have longstanding chiro care hoping this info is helpful — disc or facet or structural problems at c3 and or c4 will cause all symptoms you listed, in broad stroke. Please see if you can get MRI with flexion extension X-rays. I have disc disruption at c4 and had atlas readjusted — the lower level neck pathologies trump atlas in my neck — I have it all — disc, facet, prior surgery and c4 can very easily mimic c2 c1 pathology and also feeds into Vegus nerve, which serves heart, affects pulse, affects entire GI tract. So please get thorough neuro assessment and look for a retired healthcare pro who doesn’t have financial stake in diagnostics — some ortho surgeons are very structure savvy, along with pain docs. And physical therapists. But be wary of long term chirocare. Three sessions should do the job and if not, seek additional resources, eg, possible stretching, decompression and qi gong can be effective along with neck flexor strengthening once the spine is aligned — if spinal cord is compressed, go beyond chiropractic and see what feels better. If the body isn’t feeling better, the treatment is not working, nomatter what an expert may say or how much you may wish it were. Trust the body’s feedback. If it doesn’t feel good, there is a reason. Keep reading about physiological processes so you can evaluate care providers. Too many talk a good talk and sooooo few deliver. Cheers and all the best!

    • MindBody says:

      Interesting that you mention Qi Gong- as I have progressed into this myself- with very pleasing results. It is filling in holes that the chiro treatment is not quite able to master. However would have been much harder with a malaligned spine.

      • Lillian says:

        Hi Everyone…this site has been very helpful for me and my search for healing.
        Have been living with vertigo for the last 20 years in the Bay Area California. Probably seen at least 30 chiro’s who claimed they could help me. Would appreciate any recommendations
        for how I should approach healing. It’s been a very frustrating process. Wishing you all wellness..

  24. Earlene Lourenco says:

    Dr. Dan fixed my problem! call him at 858-484-0444. tell him your problem and ask if
    he can recommend the kind of help you need in your area. My atlas was out! Blessings & good luck, Earlene

    • Lillian says:

      Hi..I’m in Central California..where is Dr.Dan? Thanks

      • Tania says:

        Hi Liliian, i think i know a guy in your area that can help you. This person has had great success in treating Vertigo and alot of other things, he is in San Francisco

      • Ljdebernardi says:

        Hi..I’m actually 5 hours South of SF…Santa Barbara area. Any chance you can get a referral in my area? Thanks

        L DeBernardi 4692 Carpinteria Ave #38 Carpinteria CA 93013 925-487-6700


      • MindBody says:

        It’s not possible to provide any direct medical advice or referral advice through this blog (medicola]egal barriers- and I have no connections in the US anyhow)- but I will leave the post up for others to answer.

  25. john says:

    Hi MindBody / readers – Story from someone who cured their OWN c5 misalignment!

    I couldn’t not leave without telling you my story and my experiences. I have recently re aligned my own atlas / c5 after doing a lot of research.

    Ever since I was a kid my head was tilted, i remember closing each eye and looking at my nose with the open eye (alternating), it was like my nose was twisted but little did I know it was my head! Strange how nobody else noticed / pointed it out either.

    Anyway, had pretty much all of the symptoms above apart from headaches, and wow am i impulsive (or used to be). All the way through my life (28 now) people have said I seem to lack common sense, I’ve been a moderate/ heavy social binge drinker for years and was always doing stupid things (even when sober) i thought impulsiveness was just my personality, it’s crazy!

    I always thought my jaw was bigger on one side (then came the anxiety!) but it was actually underdeveloped sternocleidomastoid, levatator scapulae and trapezius on one side so yep my head was also twisted.

    For years I’ve not ACTUALLY known the problem, too shy to seek prof. help, it’s not until I started working out (which I thought would cure any imbalance) that I realised the problem was a lot more serious. Basically one side of my body was developing unevenly/ slower which after research (and watching Elliott Hulse on Youtube) I realized my atlas / c5 mis alignment was sending bad signals out throught my nervous system.

    Some of my personal symptoms on the effected side: (even though I was stretching like crazy) 1. could only turn my head (opposite to affected side) about 30deg, 2. Extremely tight trap – felt like it was gripping onto the ribcage when moved, 3. Deep breathe caused strange sensation (again, ribcage tightness), 4. Lower back was extremely tight (pelvis almost frozen, hardly any anterior/posterior movement), 5. Trapped nerve on trap/upper back, 6. Sharp Pain in mid back next to spine (trigger point maybe). 6. Impulsiveness, 7. Major anxiety, 8. feelings of hopelessness and depression, 9. Crunching when hitting the 30deg mark mentioned above, 10. ALMOST FORGOT – Major jaw pain (but on the opposite side)…the list goes on!

    Anyway here’s what I did:
    First started stretching following this video (do the affected side twice as much):
    2. Next go for a walk and focus on tensing the lower abs and the squeezing the glutes while tilting the pelvis forward (flattening your lower back) – this will release the tight pelvis muscles in your lower back. (I find walking and doing is easier – You may even feel your walking posture improve)
    3.Next do these exercises to re align the c5/atlas:

    I also roll out my mid back / s.blades on a foam roller.

    I can’t explain how I feel now I’ve fixed mine, it’s amazing… All my symptoms have gone, my anxiety is non existent, my pelvis is free, my neck looks even and healthy, head posture is excellent and I feel so much more switched on and connected to myself and my body. I know it’s not going to be the same for everyone but after more than 10 years of having these weird cervical / alignment / imbalance problems and now after a just a few days of rehab it’s gone! got to give hope to others! I really hope this helps you :)

    Also might be worth mentioning I eat a plant based diet but with protein (fish, chicken only) and also drink home made milk Kefir (the stuff is holy water!) Peace and Longevity!

    • MindBody says:

      Hi John,
      thank you for your reply.
      Those exercises you referred to really are excellent- and I will be referring my own patients to those links.
      The emphasis on doing the scapular/cervical ones hourly really is of critical importance, as we have to de-activate an abberrant postural and muscle activation pattern that has been persisting for years- and that cannot be achieved overnight.

      I personally have recently commenced Qi Gong- and find that the increased subtlety of body awareness that that gives me has vastly improved my alignment.
      I have been closely inspecting the skull on which I learned anatomy- and have actually identified that it has a small defect on the base of the skull that would make the atlas much more likely to slip out of place with minimal movement.
      I suspect that the individual whose skull I possess had a birth injury, and that atlas was misaligned from birth, while the bones were still remodelling. Consequently the labrum of the occipital condyle is deficient on one side- and he would have had an unstable atlas.

  26. john says:

    damn I meant tilt the pelvis back not forward!!!

  27. Roger says:

    What is the best kind of treatment to resolve these problems? For the past 5.5years II’ve seen some physios, chiros, osteos, I’ve had scenar, accupuncture done tai chi at the best all it’s given me is a 75 per cent temporary relief. Can this condition be resolved?

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