Edit Dec 2012:
This testimonial was accurate at the time of first posting, but further complications over the last 18 months will require a postscript.
The key points of my past history are:
1) Chronic difficulties with posture. I was frequently in trouble at school for slouching and having my hands in my pockets. Photos of myself taken during my childhood confirm my crooked posture even as a preschooler. Given my history as an extremely colicky, irritable baby, I suspect that in my case the problem was present since birth.
1) A prolapsed L5 -S1 disc in my early 20’s resulting in severe right sided sciatica lasting for two years, and ongoing episodes of low back pain and sciatica intermittently after that time. With the benefit of hindsight I attribute that disc prolapse to the unrecognised crookedness in my spine secondary to my atlas subluxation.
2) Onset of neck pain, tension headaches and migraines from my mid 30’s, worsening with time despite physiotherapy, Feldenkrais therapy to correct my posture (with limited success) and a rheumatology review. The general conclusion was that I was suffering from posturally induced neck pain. What was missed all along was that I was unable to maintain upright posture because my spine was out of alignment. This is an interesting point as we usually assume that people with poor posture are “just lazy”.
3) A range of worsening health intermittent problems including dizziness, tinnitus, intermittent pins and needles in my hands and feet, episodes of nausea and faintness some mornings- especially if tired or overstressed. As a doctor I was highly embarrassed that I appeared to be exhibiting “psychosomatic symptoms”, and equally could not fit the symptom pattern into any of the clinical “boxes” that I was aware of. As a result of this I was at a loss as to where I could go to seek useful help. The attempts I did make to seek treatment all drew a blank.
4) Worsening problems with maintaining alertness, increasing disorganisation and forgetfulness, and an increasing tendency to irritability and moodiness.
Despite the treatment I received I was progressively deteriorating, and developing a wider range of symptoms that did not seem connected to my back or neck problems.. By late 2009 I was so compromised by so many diverse symptoms that I seriously wondering if I would be able to continue working. At that time I was in my late 40s.
In December 20o9 I encountered an advertisement for a new mobilisation technique for the upper cervical spine called Atlas Profilax. As a medical practitioner, I was naturally skeptical about the range of broader health claims made for the technique, but also highly interested at the very specific anatomical mechanism proposed as causative for my problem. I was also intrigued that once I knew what I was looking for the anatomical signs of this condition were clear and unmistakeable.
I was initially very anxious about having the treatment, as there have been reasonable concerns raised within our profession about manipulation of the upper cervical spine. Upon reviewing the available data I found, however that Atlas Profilax treatment was a gentle mobilisation rather than a manipulation.
I summoned up my courage and had the treatment on December 31 2009. I was greatly impressed not only by the immediate improvement in my neck and back pain, and neck mobility, but also by a range of wider health benefits. These benefits have only deepened as I have improved my fitness and posture.
I noted rapid improvement in my level of anxiety and irritability, and significant improvements in focus.
When I had the treatment I was so disabled by neck and shoulder pain that I could not even sit at the computer to investigate the claims made about Atlas Profilax on the internet. Within a few days after the treatment I was fit enough to sit at the computer and explore the issue further, and concluded that I would maximise my recovery by improving my posture. To this end I commenced Pilates and increased my ongoing exercise program.My improvement continued and the full improvements I have noted are:
- Much decreased neck, interscapular and low back pain. The pain has continued to diminish as I have done further Pilates, swimming and kinesiology treatments. I have substantial arthritis in my lower lumbar spine and significant arthritis in my cervical spine. Despite this, I no longer find myself limited by pain, and have even resumed jogging.
- Better posture- I can sit upright and am 2cm taller than I was. All the clinical signs of the condition have resolved, my shoulders and pelvis are now straight and the transverse processes of the atlas are no longer tender when examined.
- I am much calmer overall, and in fact am now able to meditate. I used to be either too restless or too drowsy to be able to do this.
- My concentration is vastly improved. The meditation that I was able to take up as a result of the treatment also helped considerably.
- My lifelong irritable bowel syndrome and my years of constipation have resolved.
- I am now able to wake and be active and alert quickly in the mornings when I used to be drowsy and nauseous until mid morning most days.
- The chronic low level dizziness that used to trouble me has resolved.
- The recurrent near fainting episodes I was having prior to treatment all ceased.
- My chronic intermittent tinnitus has now almost completely vanished.
- The intermittent pins and needles in the fingers and toes have ceased.
- Improved fine motor coordination: I am less clumsy, a better musician, my handwriting has improved significantly.
- My voice is deeper and my clarity of speech is better than it used to be.
- The intermittent pins and needles over my left orbit have ceased
- My intermittent problems with drooping eyelids and occasional brief double vision have ceased.
- My longstanding insomnia is now very much improved.
- The greatest benefit is maybe the hardest one to quantify, It is certainly the hardest to express in terms that would make sense to a skeptical medical practitioner. It is this:
Since the treatment I am progressively noticing a greater fluidity and spontaneity in all my physical movements. I understand very clearly that the net effect of this atlas problem was a subtle derangement of the sensory input my brain received from my body. It was very much like trying to play a video game with a worn controller that did not respond efficiently to my commands. This left me having to continually look out for and brace against unpredictable output from my body, both in terms of movement and emotional response. Life is certainly much easier in the absence of those symptoms.
POSTSCRIPT Dec 2012
During late 2011 I faced an enormous number of stressors and suffered further complications related to recovery from the atlas injury. A couple of significant issues have arisen from the treatment of those problems.
1) The brainstem injury associated with the original atlas subluxation was greater than I realised and this was having residual effects on posture and stress response.
2) The curvature of my spine caused by the longstanding atlas injury was greater than I suspected. This has left significant osteoarthritis at points low in the neck and the mid chest.
3) The feedback effect of stress response on worsening posture and in turn on exacerbating stress response was enormous, and highly destructive.
Both of these problems are being very effectively treated by a chiropractor who is a member of the Australian College of Functional Neurology. While it remains difficult to get access to this sort of treatment I can only emphasise that, in my view, treatment of an atlas subluxation remains incomplete until a straight and erect posture is achieved. On this particular point I differ from the simple point of view expressed on the Atlas Profilax website.