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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160 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.

      • Skippy Lamb says:

        Do not trust a “positive” igenx test. I was positive too. I am looking at atlas now. It may be neither, but those igenx tests are not “positive”.

    • 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.

    • Tammy says:

      See a Maximized Living chiropractor. I had almost every one of those symptoms, and now I don’t. I have been in treatment for over a month, and probably have less than a month to go. I can see physical changes in my shoulders, hips and jaw. I can see much more clearly, the dizziness, headaches and ringing in my ears are gone. All positive changes. There motto is They do the adjusting, and God does the healing. I am a walking miracle, the chiropractors there are great, and Jesus is my Healer.

      • MindBody says:

        They have the right idea. I am actually a Buddhist- and so, strictly speaking do not believe in God- but what I believe amounts to the same thing- except that our perspective is that verbal labels constrict our appreciation of reality.
        “…..we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of dis-empowered perception.” ~Terrance McKenna

      • peace says:

        Amen!!!!! N I am so.glad u know the.lord, because I. Am gointjroufh the same neck pain n the lord to show me the way

  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.

    • Ruthie says:

      In my case, my occiput (skull) was lifted up and off the condyle on one side. Also, the neck muscles were interfering with adjustment because they were significantly stronger on one side and kept pulling it back out of align. I needed to have the muscles retrained on the weak side, strengthened through electrical stimulation. It worked!

      • MindBody says:

        That’s interesting.
        Do you mind telling me what the electrical stimulation was?
        The issue is that when the suboccipital muscles are in spasm the tonic neck reflex kicks in and pulls everything else into the wrong position.

  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.


      • Heather says:

        What type of proprioceptive insoles do you have? I started with proprioceptive insoles, then a dental orthotic, SOT therapy, and soon an atlas correction. I am told it is best to stabilize the feet first due to gravity.

      • MindBody says:

        Sorry about missing this one- I have been using “Foot Levellers”.
        Definite benefit.

  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. ElleLe says:

    I’ve had…every single one of these symptoms for as long as I can remember.
    I saw a chiropractor for back pain initially but he had an x-ray ordered of my neck too. I have a loss of the curve in my neck, and mild curve in my spine. He also noted one of my shoulders is lower than the other (I really can’t hold it up), and the opposite leg is shorter than the other by a substantial amount. My head is always forward of my shoulders, I really can’t keep posture…it hurts like hell. Not to mention one of my “floating ribs” (the 11th I think?) is distorted and noticeably protrudes out from my abdomen on the right side. Sitting is painful, it feels like the rib is pressing on something inside.
    He did back adjustments, pelvic adjustments, and those lovely “he’s going to break my neck” adjustments. None of which ever held for long. “At home” physical therapy made everything worse.

    And then… it gets better. I suffered a blow to the head. Since then the pain in my neck at the base of my skull is excruciating and constant. I have to sleep perfectly on my back, with my neck perfectly supported and slightly tilted back, or I will wake up so stiff I can’t move my neck. The most recent neck adjustment by this new chiro caused an extreme left sided migraine, pain down my left shoulder and arm, fatigue, blurred vision… the chiro advised if it continued to go to the ER.

    This most recent doctor even noted that at the base of my skull, there is a “bump” which he explained is probably me feeling the c2’s spinous process being slightly twisted, or one “side” of it is larger than the other…only it’s always protruding, tender and always centered. . Xrays, CT, and MRI all came back normal, aside from a noted “shift” that they didn’t really go into, said it was consistent with a the diagnosis of a sprain….

    After finding this site I am finding myself basically screaming on the inside. If this is something most doctors don’t even recognize as being real, how the hell do I get someone to listen? They say everything is normal….and I’m telling you it is most certainly not considering I’m young.. with severe symptoms (pick any from the list above…I’ve had it, or have it. Including a recent diagnosis of ADHD). The worst part? This blow to he head… well, lets just say these doctors aren’t exactly on MY side. I am literally, lost for words.

    • MindBody says:

      Please accept my apology for the delay with this reply.
      I can only empathise. It is probably worse for me because I am a doctor and I am quite frankly embarrassed at the entrenched, systematic, deliberate ignorance of my profession.
      It is worse than negligent.
      I now regard my chiropractors as my primary care providers.

  23. 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.

  24. 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..

  25. 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.

  26. FedUp says:

    Hi I have been suffering from a host of symptoms the past 2 years and this is my most recent present.

    Screwed up back at work with no initial pain or issues just gradual progression of symptoms. Began being unable to fall asleep by getting brain-like jerks (similar to being startled when relaxed) just before drifting to sleep. Made sleep nearly impossible.

    Adding to this next came extreme upper thoracic pain on the left side as well as left side of ribcage. Following this with chiropractic care (which made it worse), the instability spread to the chest and became very similar to costochondritis.

    Adding to the above, and still experiencing the brain twitches; came a new odd jerking issue in my legs, which became extremely exacerbated when trying to enter sleep. Very much like Restless Leg syndrome. Adding to this came twitching in arms, thighs, buttocks, etc. Adding to this came leg tingling. Adding to this came leg numbness. It then proceeded to cycle through these symptoms sporadically.

    Adding to all the above, the next thing in conjunction with the extreme back pain was cracking, popping, and occasional back spasms. Deep cracks in the thoracic area (more cracking when sitting or pinching back) and terrible pain following. Making any static movement (sitting or standing) terrible. Could feel the rib in my back, side and chest popping in and out as well.

    Got prolotherapy to this area many many times which somewhat helped. After a year when pain, cracking and twitching, numbness, etc were still there, got neck prolotherapy as a recommendation from the specialist.

    After neck prolotherapy, (the night of injection) immediately got a huge electric shock in throat and proceeded to sleep for 16 hours a night from this point on. Symptoms gradually creeped in within the next month.

    Started becoming unable to ever feel more or less tired; it began to feel like my body was always in a sleepy overly docile state. Could not get to sleep until 10 am the following day everyday.

    Became extremely weak, cold, body somewhat numb like it was in shock/fight or flight response, legs wobbly, super anxious, depressed and scared for no reason. Became unable to think clearly, started reading dyslexic and skipping words, and could stare into space in a near vegetative state for hours. Lack of internal dialogue or ability to think properly. Short term memory loss, etc. Got lost in a grocery store trying to remember where I parked for an hour.

    Daily consciousness felt like overtraining coupled with low testosterone coupled with excessive marijuana use burnout coupled with watching a loved one die in front of you (being in shock/shaky legs/numb body).

    Alleviating stress on neck aka lying sideways on a pillow would help alleviate symptoms and I would be able to think more clearly.

    Neck began making grating sounds when rotating when in sleeping position. Neck began cracking and popping in c1 area and halfway up the back of my head would snap badly. Hotness in feet and hands occured and were followed by intense bone squeezing aches from the knees down or ankles down depending on my daily luck.

    Both eyes started to burn red and water constantly (would wake up to left eye crusted shut). Eye lid muscles began to weaken and eyes began looking like that of a drug addict/zombie. Left side of face would go numb, as well as entire head would go numb at times, headaches too. As well as sinus issues, clogged ear sensation (like in plane) and popping in eardrums when opening jaw. As well as extreme sensitivity to light, making exposure unbearable and feeling sick and nauseous from it. Couldnt stand much in light.

    Pupils will dilate under low-light or darkness almost entirely covering iris. In sunlight pupils will contract so small that they look like a snake and are almost completely gone.

    ////Potential Conditions I Have / Relatable Symptoms;/////
    Slipping RIb Syndrome
    Snapping Scapula
    Brain Jerks (Unknown)
    Restless Leg Syndrome
    Leg/Body Twitching/Numbness/Hot Sensations (Unknown)

    ///Following Neck Injection////
    C1/Atlas Instability =/= Barrie Louie Syndrome
    Low Testosterone (Resulting From Above)
    Pregnenalone Deficiency (Resulting From Above)

    Any tips/advice?

    99% of doctors are unaware of any of this because it exceeds their medical book from uni. Typically can expect a “i dont know” response followed by suggesting a muscle relaxant or a anti-depressant. Aka worthless help.

    • MindBody says:

      My apologies for the delay in responding.
      Fixing these problems is difficult when they are that entrenched. I too have had huge issues with the thoracic spine and ribs, with associated racing heart.The trouble is that the spine is affected at multiple levels and problems at lower levels cause postures that continually destabilise the atlas.

      My approach has been to seek neurological rehabilitation from a specialist chiropractor and have a second chiropractor work on the alignment issues.
      I have done a great deal of Vipassana body scanning and apply the better body awareness to achieve a correct upright meditation posture – and to hold it while on the computer. I have also done a great deal of work learning self massage, trigger point massage, and done yoga and now QiGong. Now five years after the initial treatment I am defintely well advanced on an improving course. It is a really tough journey, but it is good to be feeling well again.

  27. Jo Buettner says:

    Very please to have found this – if for no other purpose than to maintain my own sanity while attempting to guide my son with his like-symptoms and complications. I’ve had symptoms since my early 20s, and now @62 years of age on disability for a decade, I am assisting my son of 21yrs. with what seemed to be a rather sudden onset (causes unknown) in the last year.
    I continue to not sustain with exception of lower extremities – having successful alignment for several months to a year at a time. I now have a dislocated mandible (left); repetitive costochondral separation – 1st and 2nd rib in persistent unstable condition; unstable clavicle – shifts into unstable left shoulder; C1 & C2 Sub. – unstable; C3,4,7 – periodic; thoracic rotation persistence. Vagus nerve impacts from head on down persistent as well.
    After years of being told everything from I “don’t have enough meat on my bones”, to “the only thing wrong with you is mental” … I began finding help, although no success in sustained improvement after 30+ years on no care …However self-pain management has increased significantly. My greatest limitation is insurance and disability determination limitations.
    Enough about me … I was devastated when my athletic, food conscious, non smoking; no-drugs; minimal-alcohol son described the pain and other symptoms I knew all to well. With a great chiropractor now, the concern is that he is not sustaining either. He has double-mandible dislocation; CI – persistent; costochondral (1 episode); rib2 – persistent – front and thoracic; persistent lower misalignment. His chiropractor is more than accommodating to him both in care and economic awareness – and a bit frustrated himself.
    I don’t know how to give him hope when my limitations are so enormous and continue to exasperate. Our rural location and depleted resources are definitely a factor. He lives a block from me – to help me, and now I’m pulling back on this as he is impacted by my needs.
    I do not know where to go from here … For me, kanesio taping was highly beneficial until recently. My skin and my muscles are fighting it now.

  28. Max says:

    I root xrays done last thraday that showed atlas and axis tilts. My CNS readings were off too. The chiro said it was definitely not good. I had my first adjustment later that day as well. I haven’t felt much improvement yet.
    Any idea on how long these take to improve?
    Am I supposed to feel better right away or not?

    Could these issues be causing my brain fog, constant fatigue, low libido, depression, anxiety etc?

    • MindBody says:

      Sorry about missing this one.
      Improvements can be fairly quick when the alignment is correct- but adjusting to the shift in alignment takes a little time- and you can feel a little fragile for a few days after.
      I felt immediate improvement after atlas profilax, and usually feel immediate improvement on the day of an adjustment.
      Certainly when my atlas slips out of alignment I develop clumsy speech and blurred vision within 1/2 an hour.
      The worst case was accompanied by an abrupt loss of thermoregulation and one sided vasodilation- and flushing of my face.

  29. 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.

  30. john says:

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

  31. 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?

    • MindBody says:

      I have had to work at multimodal treatment for years to get good progress with this problem.
      As I see it the issue is that this is usually a longstanding injury (very often a birth injury) and it leads to very deeply entrenched aberrant patterns of posture and movement – which leads to secondary issues with orthopedic problems such as stretched ligaments and osteoarthritis. The bottom line is that our bodies have learned as default a posture that involves a twist running through the entire spine, and unless the whole crooked posture is corrected it will set up a situation in which the atlas is inclined to re-displace.

      I suspect that many of us who are coming to treatment later in life will require ongoing treatment and an ongoing commitment to exercise and work to maintain posture. None of this is easy in a culture which requires us to spend so much time sitting at the computer to work.

      I personally have had to spend quite an amount of time working at learning self massage and trigger point therapy techniques.

  32. lorrie says:

    My husband suffered for two years before a chiropractor specializing in Orthogonal Atlas Adjustment was recommended. His two year “odyssey” finally ended when he found the right doctor. Traditional medicine (2 orthopedists, neurologist, 3 neuro-surgeons, physiatrist, radio-frequency ablasion, 3 chiropractors, 3 physical therapists, acupuncture 4 times, dental bite guard……..and more) failed to fix the problem. Botox and RFA worked but only temporarily. His symptoms included, Right sided ear pain, vision problems, dizziness, hypertension, sinus congestion, and arm pain. He even had two sinus surgeries….still no fix. Eventually he had pain throughout his body and even had 17 trigger points injected twice. Since finding this treatment May, 2013, he has had to have it done at least 12 times but the treatment works. He is a carpenter and when his symptoms come back, he just gets adjusted. A sure sign the atlas is out is pain at the junction where the skull and spinal column meet. In hindsight, we are sure his problems began many years ago and progressively got worse because he never had the right treatment early on.

  33. Hi, I have found your website interesting and the testimonies on various videos encouraging. Can I ask if you have treated anyone with ankylosing spondylitis of the neck? My pain started in the sacro-iliac and middle spine then involved my shoulders and fingers, which actually became swollen.I also have gastric problems with oesophageal ulceration. Lately it has all flared up in my neck, both back and front, with tightness, pain and a strangling sensation. I researched it and discovered it could be vagus nerve compression, since I also have very strange temperature swings and disturbed sleep as well as fluctuating blood pressures and pulses. Do you think manipulation would help with this? Or is the AS inflammation not amenable to mechanical treatments? I did in the past get some back relief with a local chiropractor but found the neck adjustments too scary and didn’t go back. Your views would be most welcome, thank you for your information. Roberta :)

    • MindBody says:

      Hi Roberta,
      I have not had specific experience with ankylosing spondylitis- and in the case of that particular problem results will be limited by the degree of rigidity of the spine.
      I really can’t give specific medical advice as to which treatment you should have except to say that there are non manipulative treatments available. For instance I see a chiropractor who specialises in Sacro-occipital technique. She gets great results simply by using the activator to release the tense muscles that hold the neck out of place.
      The comment by John dated 11 June 2014 gives links to some helpful exercises that are certainly safe and I have found very helpful- but they must be maintained.
      In terms of mechanism of your symptoms- I do need to update the blog.The biggest contributions to the symptoms are likely to be direct mechanical stretch on the brainstem and also related to a degree of upset of the regulatory systems of the autonomic nervous system caused by confused information input to the brain. As best as I can understand from my own researches the malalignment at the upper cervical spine causes a distortion of body position awareness which means that your body is not in the exact place your brain thinks it is- and there is a different mismatch of the information on the left and right sides. Your autonomic nervous system is meant to stabilise your blood pressure,pulse and other basic functions so that they are appropriate to your posture. Equally the subtle imbalance caused by the problem causes stress responses as well.
      This video gives some demonstration of the problems involved when your balance system is not functioning well but you need to pay for a 1 month subscription to the site:

      Also of note- excessive curvature of the thoracic spine and forward head posture can be contributory. The thoracic spine issue is probably related to hyperstimulation of the sympathetic nerve chain – at the point where it crosses the base of the rib at its attachment to the spine.The sympathetic nerves at the level of the upper thoracic spine stimulate the heart.

      My chiropractor (Ian Niven- featured in the video) disagrees- but I do personally think that direct vagus nerve irritation can be a problem if there is forward head posture- and particlarly if one “leads with the head” when standing up. It used to cause me marked dizziness when I stood up too quickly. Alexander technique, Pilates or Feldenkrais can be very beneficial in correcting these habits.
      I personally have made great stides through QiGong (which has good evidence in improving balance and in falls reduction).
      The video is really excellent and Ian is very skilled at working with aberrant reflexes in a new branchof chiropractic called functional neurology. Looking at your blog I am sure you would find it valuable.

      • Thank you so much MindBody, this is very encouraging and enlightening. I have started some isometric neck exercises and things seem to be slightly improved. I do look forward to following up on all your leads and suggestions. Thanks again, best of wishes and health to you :)

    • JoAnn Buettner says:

      Just a note regarding the potentiality of a correlation to the vagus nerve. I too have this problem. I did discontinue any involvement with a chiropractor due to the severity of my symptoms following. I hope to resume again soon. I instead went with a physical therapist trained in facial release- due to the inability of the two sides of the body to work together. In addition to much of the information already note in varied posts, I found relief by ‘teaching’ my body alternative ways to stand, sit, etc. through the use of Kinesio tapping- something my PT introduced to me. Of course this is a but a step in the process of alignment coupled with subtle support exercises to help sustain alignment. My inflammation, body temperature alterations, gastric disturbances- to include heart palpitations, have improved dramatically. All else remains a work in progress, however relief of symptoms are always welcomed.

      • MindBody says:

        It is quite intriguing how well kinesiology can work in the hands of a skilled practitioner. Of course most of the Medical Profession thinks it is nonsense, but after all our profession is old, conservative, and holds entrenched power and influence.

        I do not think the conservatism is really primarily driven by economic factors- but it is certainly driven by information overload and the difficulty of learning and thinking within a new paradigm for most busy practitioners. I would love to learn some kinesiology- but am flat out doing what I am doing.

        The alignment exercises are most important. I am getting great benefit from doing QiGong.

        As I previously mentioned- it is likely that the mechanical traction on the vagus nerve is a lesser factor and the bigger problems relate to distorted input information into the brainstem and traction on the brainstem.

      • JoAnn Buettner says:

        I agree wholeheartedly, on all accounts. I am fortunate to have someone that not only knows what she is doing, but listens to me. She knows how well I know my own body. Lessoning the secondary issues have allowed us to remove some of those layers that were preventing me from recognizing indicators of greater concern- as opposed to prior practitioner Band-Aid measures. I had not looked into the exercises you use, and certainly will. After a great many years, my brain is beginning to recognize that my ‘normal’ isn’t … Such a process and I have found this blog to be most informative and validating- a most favorable combination.

  34. Roger says:

    Hi, Over the last nearly 6 years I’ve tried lots of things and still none of the wiser. I have contemplated suicide a few times due to my symptoms which are a tense masseter muscle on the right side, restricted neck mobility, intermittent ear tension ache, lethargy, lack of drive motivation, noise anxiety like ceiling fans computers, fridges, traffic noises, plumbing, intermittent head pressure and disorientation mild dizziness, impaired memory, upper arm pains, sharp tooth pains, weird dreams etc. A great many physios reackon it’s a c1 c2 issue which the muscles can also deviate the jaw position.

  35. Roger! Go get your atlas and cervical spine x-rayed and adjusted if needed. It sounds like this could solve your problems like it did mine in about an HOUR. I’ve been dealing with similar symptoms for years. YEARS!!! One hour. Worth a try.

    • qunk says:

      Hi there,
      I have been suffering horrendous symptoms as above for 10 years including terrible brain fog and ear problems. A had Labyrinthitis 10 years ago which is where my symptoms became obvious and I’m still battling with deafness, balance, anxiety, headaches, high heart rate, depression etc. but my gp has pretty much passed it off as depression the whole time.

      I have just seen someone and they say I do have atlas and cervical spine problems after an x ray! So a glimmer of hope!
      The problem is, I’ve been told it will take 6 months to a year to fix with 10 minute appointments twice a week each costing 40 pounds.

      Obviously hearing people have sorted this in a matter of hours has gotten me thinking. Do you think I’m being taken for a ride and should I seek help elsewhere?

      If so, does anyone have any advice on where to go in the uk?

      Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

      Many thanks

      • MindBody says:

        One of the big problems with Atlas Profilax is the idea that a single treatment will be enough and that a quick fix is possible.

        Quick fixes are possible in infants and in childhood- but not later.
        That is clear from Biedermann’s work.

        This You Tube clip shows just such a quick fix in an infant:

        As a rule the older we are and the longer we have been out of posture and operating a crooked body, the more engrained our problems with spinal alignment are. By adulthood most of us have malalignments at multiple levels and aberrant movement patterns adapted to moving that crooked body.The movement patterns tend to re-displace us back into old postures and we are back where we started.
        When you get into your 30s or 40s there will be addtional issues with secondary osteoarthritis- so everything feeds back.

        I would agree that for most people an extended period of treatment will be needed and the course of progress is not even- there are setbacks and leaps forward.

        Progress is much faster if you are able to commit to a regular exercise program with a variety of different activities, plenty of emphasis on coordination and balance and to also work with continuous mindfulness of posture– correcting any forwards head posture or upper and/or lower crossed syndromes.

        It is worth the effort though.

    • anja says:

      Who did your one hour treatment

  36. Hi Guys, I want to share some information which I hope helps you!

    I posted here a while ago, pretty lengthy post somewhere up there. Anyway, I’ve found a great exercise to restore head posture (which is what I think the reason for my sublaxation was) Here’s a link:

    Some of the videos I posted above helped me but ultimately this one has done it for me. It restores thoracic extension. Back in the day as hunter gatherers climbing, running etc this was never ever a problem but obviously these days many of us sit down at desks all day so certain muscle groups tighten so in my mind some kind of maintenance is essential.

    Since I’ve been doing this multiple times a day I’ve noticed I’m just so much more relaxed as it’s helped release my problem neck muscels / trigger points, my head rotation is pretty much back to normal (symmetrical at least) but the main thing is my mood, my anxiety has gone and my mind is settled and I can process thoughts properly again, it’s weird everything seems relaxed, I feel my mind to body connection is much better plus a whole load of other stuff but I won’t list them here now. I also workout and do cardio which also helps loads.

    Basically (for me at least) this exercise helped release the tense muscles on the left side of my neck so I think my sublaxtion was caused by tight neck muscles pulling my head of centre so ultimately this exercise has allowed thoracic extension so I could go ahead and do stretches on my neck which before I just couldn’t do because they were SO tight and was actually making them tighter.

    Now, my head is aligned how it should be, I look better – not so hunched up even my walk is better, still working on it as there is still much improvement to be made, lucky for I’m young I guess so it came easy.

    Prior to my own research, nothing the doctor said ever helped, he didn’t even see a problem with my head / body posture CRAZY it seems to me doctors aren’t educated in the right way for the modern world at least for these types of issues! maybe I should have just seen an osteopath from the start! but self help is the best help if you prefer!

    BTW I would also recommend researching rounded shoulders, pec minor stretches etc, but remember EVERY bone has muscles EACH side so in order to retain balance you must keep things symmetrical.

    Don’t take my advice as gospel I’m just a 28 year old web developer who had all the symptoms of atlas sublaxation. This blog has helped me loads btw so thanks!

    Live long, live strong!

    • MindBody says:

      Hi John, thanks, but you forgot to post the link!
      I have been doing the exercises you previously recommended and am very pleased with the results.
      I have just added in a couple of “Chin tuck” exercises – one unresisted and one with a Theraband, to help increase extensor strength in the neck muscles.It appears to me that one of the big issues we face is related to anterior slippage of the atlas on the skull when in forward head posture- so increased strength in the neck extensors is essential. This is an example of a chin tuck exercise:
      The obvious qualifier is always not to force through pain, and to seek proper qualified review if not progressing well or if there are any unusual or troublesome symptoms.

      Incidentally, I agree with you 100% that the medical profession is inexcusably ignorant in this area. We spend way too much time listening to and being influenced by drug reps and going to education events hosted by pharmaceutical companies. Sometimes it seems to me that we have forgotten about any forms of treatment other than drugs and surgery.

  37. BTW to you veggies, (if anyone cares) on my quest to become healthier and fitter before you decide to give up meat altogether you should know that, in a nut shell, animal protein is essential for the breakdown or excretion of estrogen in the liver, basically high amounts of estrogen left in the liver is extremely toxic and is one of the main causes of some of the deadliest cancers there are. It’s to do with hormone metabolism (sorry admin off topic but none the less a bit more useful information that was in my head for some reason.)

    • MindBody says:

      Thanks John,
      We probably do need to eat meat to function in a healthy way.
      I would recommend you read “Go Wild” by Dr John Ratey.
      The basic issue is that our upright posture requires a trim waistline in order to maintain the strength of the core muscles, which, in turn, maintain upright posture and that in turn keeps the atlanto-occipital joint in correct alignment.

      So- a trim waistline requires a short gut- and that means we struggle to maintain sufficient energy input unless we eat meat, or high density carbohydrate. High density carbohydrate, however, is not part of our ancestral diet and predisposes to insulin resistance and all its associates illnesses.

      In addition the movement patterns associated with upright posture are far less mechanically efficient than the postures associated with 4 legged gait- and that also increases our energy input requirement.

  38. qunk says:

    Hi there,

    I won’t bore you with details but after a bad case of Labyrinthitis 10 years ago I have been suffering with many if the above issues horrendously including balance and ear problems and severe brain fog.

    I have just seen someone and they say I do have a misaligned atlas and cervical problems but it will take 6 months to a year of 10 minute appointments twice a week at 40 pounds a session to potentially sort it.

    After reading some people have it fixed in a matter of hours I am now concerned and confused. I’m desperate to sort this and sort it properly. Am I being taken for a ride?

    I am based in the uk. Should I see someone else?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  39. qunk says:

    Hi again,
    Thank you for the reply regarding regular treatment. However, I read a lot of people saying they can ‘fix’ the initial problem within an hour. Do you think it is advisable to go for one or 2 longer sessions to correct the misalignment and then go for regular checkups to insure everything is staying corrected?

    My concern is that 10 minute appointments twice a week at £40 seems a lot for not a lot of work. I have been to 3 appointments and they use a ‘electric hammer’ type device to massage around the spine but they use the device for merely a matter of minutes.

    Obviously, if slow and steady is the best way to do it I ok with that but I don’t want to wasting any more time and money if I can get it sorted quicker.

    On a separate matter, a couple of years ago, I had my mandibular jaw broken and it healed slightly wrong. I have been having a few issues with this and my ear, balance and hearing has gotten worse that side (whereas it was mainly bad the other side before). Will this break mean that I cannot get fully better with re-alignment of my C1, C2 etc?

    Many thanks

  40. peace says:

    Who can hel me solved this c1 and c2 misalignment problem at asap? Because this is affecting my life 100%. Plus my doctor told meticulous stay away completely from Chiropractics because they can cause a big problem for my health now who Because I went to.see.xhir

    • MindBody says:

      Well, as a doctor, that was the advice I used to give my patients. However- now I see two chiropractors- one is a specialist.. These problems are hard to fix though- so relief asap is not as simple as it sounds.

      The trouble with any neck adjustment is that they cause a shift in the information coming into your brain. That causes a period of confusion and feeling worse.

      Equally- just as there are good and bad doctors- there are good and bad chiropractors– I have always found the best way to work with any practitioner is to keep on bringing my complaints to them until they can either sort me out or have he sense to ask for a second opinion.

  41. peace says:

    No my question is this who can help me eminently I don’t want to keep on going to Cara practor and its just going to cost me money after money after money this situation happened to me when I went and visited dentist I go one of my tooth my wisdom tooth pulled I was on the chair for a long time after a month and after a month and have Sorry for any typos because I’m using a speaker from Glu go to speak I cannot type that much so I think some of the words are going to be different I apologize because I cannot type I can read my headed and I just give me really tired when I meet I’m not able to type so some of the words are coming back really bad I went to see Cara practor know it was a dentist Yeah I went to see a dentist the dentist you to send me to an oral surgeon but she did not you pull up one of my wisdom tooth it was a long she was struggling and then a month after later I stop feeling really sick and that is when the whole thing started feeling really sick and I have been it into numerous emergency my family took me I went to see New York just special Sorry finally they find out that it is my C one is the most sold the high pull me I don’t want to go to chiropractor I don’t want to go to chiropractor I’m scared of them I’m scared of them can anybody else help me without a Cara practor I don’t want the concept of Cara practor I don’t like do you approach undestan go forever I just want my life back can any medical doctor real Because all the symptoms on my symptoms and the effect my whole body I can work I cannot do anything who is the medical doctor that can help me you said and Cara practor I don’t want to go to chiropractor I don’t want to go to chiropractor my whole body is for it I cannot sleep I cannot sleep I cannot sleep I struggle all night my neck cannot find a better position can anybody help me This is just a f*** to my whole life I cannot work I have been home since last year I need my life back and now I’m gaining weight I’m gaining weight I’m getting tremendous K a lot of weight my weight gain is scary for me I’m gaining so much weight right now I just don’t know what to do can anybody please help me lord I pray I put in anybody’s please help me please I’m in Canada I’m in Toronto Yeah I am in Canada especially the help me can anybody really really help me I’m in Canada GTA Ontario can anybody help me beside Cara practor is because I don’t believe in going back and forth back and forth getting a just man and jeopardizing my C spine I don’t want to jeopardize my C spine I don’t want to play with my spine They are just me since yesterday I am still terrified I am still scared I am terrified I’m frightened that I just meant it’s going to make me get stroke disabled I am scared of characters

    • MindBody says:

      You know I know very few medical doctors who even understand the gravity of the problem you are suffering, and I suffered.
      Dr Heiner Biedermann in Germany is one of the few MDs I know who works with this problem- though no doubt there are other European ones who can do so.
      Re risk of stroke– this is extraordinarily rare- and the risk of a serious complication due to a medical treatment is vastly more likely.

      I will comment that there are techniques in QI GONG ( a bit like Tai Chi) that can help unknot these neck problems- but these take time to learn.I have been working with Qi Gong for 9 months now- and it really helps the effect of the chiropractic work that i have been having.

  42. Juda says:

    Hello. What are your thoughts on prolotherapy in conjunct with atlas adjustments and spinal manipulation? Have you ever tried prolotherapy?

    • MindBody says:

      I have not had any patients have prolotherapy.
      I note that it can be of value in sacroiliac joint dysfunction – so it may have a place.
      The recovery from the postural distortions associated with a spinal malalignment is often complicate by local tendinous pain- so, logically it could well have a place. You would need to discuss it with someone adept in the therapy.

  43. It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people in this particular subject, however, you
    seem like you know what you’re talking about!

    • MindBody says:

      Personal experience counts for a lot- especially when combined with an education that allows one to process the information.
      I guess that I was fortunate in that my own medical care was so stuffed up by my fellow doctors that I have learned that the rule is
      “Make your own observations and your own formulations– or die”.
      Do not rely on authority- or the opinion of specialists- especially not clowns like Harriet Hall or Stephen Novella.
      If I had not become so disrespectful of medical authority I would already be 6 feet under.

  44. Fleur says:

    thank you for writing about this, I am in tears! I have been having many of the symptoms above with the worst being the dizziness, fatigue, tinnitus for 3 months now. After multiple doctors visits and blood tests coming up blank, and many hours of my time spent online trying to diagnose myself I finally, just last week, decided to visit a chiropractor because I had had various levels of neck pain for about 2 and a half months and I figured you never know it could be related. This was a type of neck pain I’ve had on and off for over a decade. So my follow up apt included sitting and looking at the xrays of my spine we had taken, and there it was an obvious loss of the curve in my neck from the side (plus one shoulder higher, uneven hips, etc). I began to have some hope finally that I was on to something and it is all related but didn’t want to have too much hope. Then I read this! While I still feel like rubbish I am hopeful that the chiropractor I am seeing and his colleagues can help me to start to feel better :) Thank you again.

    • MindBody says:

      I am glad that I have been useful. The pain that this condition has caused me has been horrific. I would hate, through my inaction, to have anyone else suffer the same problem.
      Please be patient with your treatment and keep coming back to your health care professsionals until it is fixed.
      I started treatment in late 2009. I have had to use a combination of chiropractic, trigger point massage, therpaeutic massage, movement mindfulness (Qi Gong) and sitting meditation.
      I believe it is possible that I may heve the problem fully resolved before 2014 is out.
      You need staying power and you need to be determined to get well. You have got this far, so that is a very good sign.

      • Fleur says:

        Thank you for your fast reply! I have, of course, been assessing things like my posture in the back of my mind since the apt 3 days ago, and had started wondering how much else I should be doing to support the work with the chiropractor – like dealing with the tight neck muscles. So this has helped to confirm the sorts of other things I can be adding to the mix. After my apt and first adjustment the other day I could move my neck through the full range and without pain for at least a few hours which was wonderful, but as things felt like they were tightening up again it pointed out to me that there is that interplay between the vertebrae and muscles for sure. And I have been well aware that meditation is probably something I need to do far more regularly than I have been, so this all confirms that it’s definitely time for a holistic, multi-pronged approach to this! I may still feel like rubbish but finally it seems like there is actual progress towards remedying that. Thank you again, I may check in with questions or (hopefully) progress reports if that’s ok.

  45. Atlas Subluxations (Atlas laterality) can be the result of dysfunction proprioceptive signals being generated in the feet (Ascending Postural Distorsional Patterns).
    Professor Rothbart

    • MindBody says:

      I fully agree. The interplay between the occipitocervical region, the sacroiliac joints, the TMJ and the feet is enormous.
      In any adult patient with acquired upper cervical birth trauma we will probably not get a good stable result until all levels have been identified.
      In fact I never walk any distance in shoes without my foot levellers. I have well learned that lesson.

      However, in terms of primary causation there is an acknowledged issue in getting babies born with the combination of a small enough head and a brain sufficiently mature to sustain life, even with an attentive mother. This is a true evolutionary bottleneck.
      In addition the rate of trauma to the upper cervical spine at birth is acknowledged to be high by those obstetricians who have looked seriously at the problem.(See Manual Therapy In Children ed Heiner Biedermann).

      I am familiar with your work and the abnormalities you have described. However, I doubt that these are primary abnormalities- as they are too common. In evolutionary terms it makes no sense for a primary inherited tendancy to a problem that causes such pathology to be as prevalent in the population as you have observed.

      However, when one considers the neurological disruption caused by an acquired birth injury to the upper cervical spine (starting with the inappropriate persistence of multiple primitive reflexes including the Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex) the idea of the abnormalities you are describing as secondary deformities due to abnormal descending nerve tone (ie a soft neurological lesion) causing foot distortion seems more plausible.

  46. Chris ellis says:

    I think I have this issue. I’ve been searching for months trying to find an answer to my symptoms ! I woke up with a crick in my neck it caused cracking in the shoulder joint upper back pain a feeling of instability I’m having a tough time sleeping lots of anxiety I’ve been this way for 7 months now without a proper diagnosis. The clunking and grinding in the shoulder is killing me. I can feel a muscle/ tendon right under my collar bone that extends into my shoulder that is rock hard as well as the neck with a lot of pain. I have lost feeling in my right trap. I have no idea what is going on with me.

    • MindBody says:

      From what you are saying that sounds very probable.
      This is a tricky problem, as it is clear that the malalignment in the upper neck causes a distortion in proprioceptive data entering the brainstem. This leaves us in a position where it is extremely tricky to manage our body movement. The end result– we do not know where we are in space- and our body clicks, crunches and grinds. It is clear to me that the full resolution of this problem requires not only skilled chiropractic treatment but a commitment to learn a movement mindfulness technique. The one that has worked for me has been QiGong- where Pilates and Yoga failed.

      Now – re anxiety– the real problem here is that when our upper cervical spine is malaligned we suffer from disturbed balance and from difficulty in achieving the upright posture that is required to ensure adequate brain perfusion. Both the imbalance and the low blood flow to the brain bombard our brains with threat signals. It is a very common mistake to call these threat signals “anxiety”. Through my meditation practice I have learned to appreciate that my thought is biassed by the body based stress state- and that I have to learn to not take my anxious thoughts about the outcomes of real situations seriously. If one can learn to recognise the body based symptoms of anxiety as a simple stress state, and then understand that every single unconfident or negative thought that one has while in that state is very likely to be at least an overreaction– then one gains enormous freedom– and “anxiety” ceases to exist as a real force. That is not medicine– that is entry level Buddhism.

    • Teresa Zweber says:

      Oh boy! sorry to hear about your pain. 7 months is a long time. Massage therapy in conjunction with Upper Cervical care is a must. I live in Minnesota US and dare not to move to warmer lands due I would loose my caregivers, that is what they have become as I have been in as bad shape as you.

  47. Debbie Allen says:

    Hello and thank you for your blog !!

    I am ALWAYS in search mode to heal my birth injury (Suction Cup) and associated symptoms, which rather unsurprisingly get worse with every passing year.. (I am currently 45)… I started complaining about headaches and tension at around 10 years old, my well intentioned Mother took me to the local GP, who had me look side to side and announced that there was “No more investigation to be done!”… even at 10 years old I was insulted and puzzled by the lack of interest the doctor showed.
    I’ve been getting weekly chiropractic adjustments for about 20 years, which last me about 2 days before I’m back to locked up, dizzy, nauseous, digestive issues, and generally foggy headed and yucky…my nemesis does seem to be C1 and C2.. Always out !!! .. and my neck and shoulders are very tight…. it is a time consuming, frustrating, exhausting and expensive past-time, and sometimes I frankly can’t imagine hitting 60 years old..
    I’ve also done cranial sacral therapy with better but still limited results, massage, applied kinesiology (still going!), and a whole host of other modalities… Also a big fan of Bikram (hot) Yoga which seems to peel back a layer of tension, but can’t get there more than once a week… I am very curious about the AtlasProFilax and have found a practitioner fairly close to my parents in England so will go ASAP! I currently live in Florida and there is nobody !
    Any more progress to report? Doing better?
    I think we have very similar injuries by the sounds of it
    Thanks again for putting yourself “out there” !!
    Best wishe
    Debbie Allen

    • MindBody says:

      I think “putting myself out there” was one of the best things I have ever done.
      Honestly– the improvement I had from Atlas Profilax was so dramatic- that not being open about it would be unethical, even though being open was, and remains, risky.

      There is much more progress to report.
      Over the last 12 months I have done 2 rhythm meditation workshops (Ta Ke Ti Na) and lots of Qi Gong. Both of these involve very intense body awareness while moving- and both have produced ongoing improvements.
      The issue is that with an upper cervical malalignment there is distortion of body position information, and disruption of balance- so the trick is to get it all straight then do enough mindful movement work to train our minds that this is the correct way to hold our bodies.

      Re the neck and shoulders- I often see jam ups in the thoracic spine and the joints involving the ribs as driving these. They need specific work to help them.

  48. Debbie Allen says:

    Glad to hear you’re improving !!
    For yours and others interest.. this is Dr Ross McCulloch (UK).. I’ve only had a handful of treatments with him as we live on different continents but plan to go back for more.. he is too interesting for me NOT to interview !!

  49. Debbie Allen says:

    Ps: He’s from Scotland !!

  50. Emma Coppin says:

    Been worrying and trying to self diagnose for the last 3 years! any bloods or X-rays I’ve had (very few on UK NHS) come back clear, but have experienced literally all off the above symptoms and more, all down my right side, literally could draw a line and right side of body is in pain and ready for the scrap heap, left side feels perfectly healthy! Could this problem be caused by hypermobile joint syndrome rather than an injury?
    I’ve always been rather bendy and that’s the only reason I’ve ever been given for my pains. A physio said my head is too far forward and I have a slight curve at the top of my spine. When I look in the mirror I see my right shoulder is slightly lower than left and my right hip is slightly higher. Some days I just have to lie on a heat massage pad to get through the day.
    I would like to go private to have some tests and scans done etc does anyone have any recommendations for Midlands UK?

    • MindBody says:

      I am beginning to think that the problem may be predisposed to by an inherited tendency towards generalised joint hypermobility- that is later masked by stiffening up of injured joints.

      The hip and shoulder posture you describe is the typical postural adjustment to an atlas malalignment- it has been documented in numerous books.
      The forwards head posture that you describe is also typical- a review of the literature clarifies that chronic hyperextension occurs in the upper cervical spine and that a compensatory forward head posture then develops as reflexes ensure that the gaze remains in the horizontal plane.

      As for therapy in England- I have no connections there.

  51. joyce says:

    i have similar symptoms and luckily i started going to an osteopath for cranial readjustment. It has been about 2 weeks, the tightness in my head (tension headaches) are still bad but i can feel that my head is straighter and not slanted towards one side. what else should i do to relieve the tightness in my muscles? there are knots in my muscles (upper back especially, shoulders and neck).

    • MindBody says:

      The first thing to do is get back to your treating practitioner for suggestions.

      This website is very helpful:
      as is the parent site:

      as is this book:
      The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook- by Clair Davies

      All valuable sources of self help information.
      Additionally, balance is very important- as it helps inform the body how to hold itself.
      It has taken me a long time to really make headway on those issues- but i have found the balance training provided by Tai Chi to be the source of the greatest improvement long term- and various forms of trigger point therapy the best for short term relief.

      • Joyce says:

        I used to think that taichi is only for older people so the taichi that you’re doing is similar to those that they are doing?

        I’ve told my practitioner about it and he just told me to do some stretches. I’m only 22 years old and I’ve been experiencing constant pain/tensions since 17 years old. it has affected me so much in every aspects of my life. regarding the anxiety part, i experience occasional speeding up of everything, I don’t really know how to explain this feeling, like everything starts speeding up. it’s a really weird feeling and I just wonder if it’s linked to this condition.

        thanks so much for your help and reply. it’s horrible to suffer from this for so long.

    • Teresa Zweber says:

      Hello Joyce,
      I started a most needed Massage therapy regiment to alleviate the muscle tightness that was even pulling my jaw and back ear muscles, also shoulders and arms. The massage therapist said that I did not have muscles but bricks. The pain has been improving by now but it has been almost 7 months with once a week treatment. I must denied myself of many things to be able to afford massage care. It was something my chiropractor had me do as the adjustments were not keeping and I was there continuously. Now my adjustments are not as frequent. Both chiropractor and massage professional are taking to each other to help me recover as I almost went into disability due to pain and other ramifications like vision blurriness, poor concentration, hopelessness; just to mention a few. I am on a wellness path thanks to God and this professionals.
      I would highly recommend it even though seems something only for the elite, it has made a huge difference!

  52. Petrus says:

    Thank you for the info. I have been in a motorcycle accident early 1992 and after the accident my right leg was 1 inch shorter (functional short leg) and to this day I have to adjust my upper cervical vertebrae’s I believe C1, C2 on a daily basis, my sensory function had been affected from my chest down and I also have a twisted pelvis and a right drop foot or shall I say drop foot like right foot. I truly feel buckled when I walk. Do you perhaps know of a doctor in South Africa who could help me in this regard? Have you heard of Atlantotec? Regards, Petrus.

    • MindBody says:

      I don’t know any health professionals at all in South Africa. As a rule conventional doctors are not educated in this area (and by and large have the blinkered and non evidence based view that the problem does not exist). Heiner Biedermann’s team in Germany and other European nations are the only medical practitioners I am aware of who have studied the problem in detail. I have reviewed Biedermann’s book “Manual Therapy in Children” elsewhere on this blog.
      The only reason I am is due to the failings of my own doctors in working out what was going on with me.

      Re Atlantotec, I understand it is virtually the same as Atlas Profilax, and was developed by a group of Atlas Profilax practitioners who were dissatisfied with the failure of the Atlas Profilax organisation to produce enough research and market their technique in a scientific enough manner.

      As I have said elsewhere- I cannot give specific medical advice- so maybe the best thing to do is reflect on my own personal experience – and you can consider those observations in the light of your own experience.

      Your situation sounds very similar to mine- and I found that with the degree of functional leg shortening and twist on my rib cage I had I ultimately got the best result from a long course of care from chiropractors who specialise in “sacro-occipital technique”. They also had me get proprioceptive insoles- to correct the pronation and flattening of the feet associated with a long term “atlas posture”. That was expensive, but worthwhile.

      Re instability- that degree of instability at C0-1-2 is similar to what I am still working with. It is responding slowly but surely to ongoing postural correction via sitting meditation and QiGong, and by extensive movement retraining via QiGong/Tai Chi.

      It seems to me that the big triggers for re-displacing an unstable C0-1-2 area are related to forward head posture- so I work towards maintaining an upright posture (similar to formal meditation posture) when at the computer, and I have had to learn to train myself out of any gestures that project my head forwards- ie if emphasising a point or if acutely anxious/angry. As you can see- that is a big undertaking- and since I grasped what was really needed it has taken me about 2 years to get near the results I am wanting. I am approaching being painfree and in good posture maybe 3/4 of the time, and the improvements are ongoing.

  53. Carley says:

    I broke my c2 in October had two weeks in hospital and 6 weeks in hard collar, two weeks in soft collar. Am now getting sore tingle in my shoulders bad headaches etc . What now?

    • MindBody says:

      You are lucky to have survived a C2 fracture. They are very high risk. Stick strictly to the advice of your treating practitioner on this one- he/she is the only one who has access to all the radiology etc. It is quite frankly impossible for anyone not in that position to comment.

  54. Rebecca Cooke says:

    Something to check out for those of us suffering from M.S. or even Chronic Fatigue, or serious neck related headaches, life changing behavioral problems, it just seems to explain a lot of symptoms I suffer, and I’ve always said to everyone, ” I swear this is all related to my neck”. Still as of today, haven’t located a chiropractor who will do the manipulation for me, my kaiser Dr wont. So I am searching as of NOW. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. My pain level is immeasurable. Thanks

    • MindBody says:

      Rebecca – if you are looking for people who might know a suitable practitioner, it might help to give some details re approximately where you live.
      Given that you mention Kaiser- I would guess you are in the USA.
      That would suggest that the website might be a good place to start looking.

  55. Joyce says:

    hi! can I know more about what kind of qigong do you practise? currently, I’m looking into qigong as well and realized that there are several kinds? which is better for such condition?

    thank you!

    • MindBody says:

      I have to say I am not sure as to what the different kinds are.
      My teacher is a recently qualified TCM practitioner who is an old friend of my partner.
      As a rule – look for someone who has had formal training in China.

  56. Katia says:

    I suffered trauma at birth and no one ever knew. Was in chronic pain with all of the symptoms listed. Massage and yoga helped some. Saw many chiropractors and None caught this until finally one did figured it all out with no fancy machines. Got my atlas back to about 80% alignment. Felt less dizzy instantly. Lived that way for two years then a woman experienced in all sorts if body modalities got it back to what feels like 100% on. It feels like a rebirth. Pain is all gone. Still working out alignment of rest of body with yoga it takes time. But I can finally relax for the first time in my life and talk and sing with ease. I am 35 and feel like my life has just begun. Keep searching until you find someone who knows what they are doing. Most don’t. The two that actually helped me I saw informally in my own home.

    • MindBody says:

      I think your observations are very valuable.
      This is a difficult problem to settle completely- it impacts on many levels.
      However if the body does get into correct alignment it can do remarkably well at learning and adapting to the new alignment. I would be interested to know of the professional background of the woman who was so helpful for you.

  57. rhea says:

    Hello! I stumbled upon this article after doing some research about back spasms. I am a ballet dancer that has struggled with ankle problems that should not have taken as long to heal as they have. I fell on the right side of my pelvis last fall and since then, my pelvis has been shifting in and out of place, along with muscles in the right side of my hip and back tightening with pain and at times grinding in the joint. Two days ago my left foot and calf muscle began twitching involuntarily. Today, my right hip began to grind and seize up and then my back followed to the point of hardly being able to move my right arm and feeling a tingly, burning sensation in the right side of my neck. I have noticed that my jaw has been out of place for a few weeks and I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep. I also have days where I wake up and have such a hard time focusing, it’s as if my brain is in a fog. Yesterday was actually one of those days! There are a couple more similarities I’ve noticed, but for courtesy of your time I will end there! I very much appreciate anything you have to offer in response, I’m currently in western New York, and have always been told my head tilts to the right when I turn in ballet class! Thank you!

    • MindBody says:

      Hi Rhea,

      the ankle issues suggest that you have had an alignment issue for some time. The fall sounds like it displaced the sacroiliac joint and the lastest events suggest an increased shift in the upper cervical spine.
      The “brain fog” is what many ADHD people have to endure for decades. Mine is all gone now. The Jaw joint and tooth grinding thing relate to the upper cervical malalignment. A chiropractor friend of mine has told me that the driving mechanism there is probably irritation of the trigeminal ganglion– which lies in a very vulnerable position and is easily compromised by minimal shifts in the relations of the cranial bones.
      The foot and calf twitching is interesting- and I am still asking as to the specific mechanism, but when my atlas comes out of alignment I get restless leg syndrome- which settles when the alignment is corrected.
      The ankle injuries may relate to either a mild pelvic tilt (functional leg length anomaly that occurs due to the unilateral muscle spasm that occurs on the side of the misalignment) or to impaired balance.
      I not myself that misalignment on the right upper cervical spine translates to imbalance and difficulty standing upright on the LEFT foot. Often that imbalance is accompanied by the sensation of pain in the lateral ligament of the left ankle.
      It is of note that that tenderness switches off as soon as my atlas is back in alignment. The abrupt switching on and off of the tenderness is most intriguing.

      I have had to work for years to get the level of symptom control I now have and needed a long run of sacro-occiptal chiropractic work. The professional groups I am noting are good with this are craniosacral osteopaths or physiotherapists and chiropractors with an interest in upper cervical work. I have noted that many chiropractors are not persistent enough at achieving really good realignment at the atlanto occiptal joint.
      The big issue is that the alignment needs to be corrected at multiple levels ( TMJ, upper cervical, sacroiliac and sometimes the feet, and in worse cases thoracic spine). Then the alignment needs to be maintained long enough for your body to learn (or re-learn) that that is normal.

  58. rhea says:

    Thank you so much! I am definitely going to be looking for a provider that practices this. The lateral ligament in my left ankle is what has been giving me the most trouble since I fell. And since having ankle problems from the summer, my brain is so used to compensating to one side for that period of time. I’ve been seeing a great physical therapist who has been focusing on how the brain remembers trauma and retraining the body to feel safe so it may work properly. However, that focus has still been on my ankle and lower body and not the complete alignment of my spine. I’ve always believed that everything is interconnected, but have never found something that has made so much sense to everything happening in my body, from my left ankle to my right hip to my jaw grinding, having trouble focusing, and even just not feeling like myself. As for the twitching, my muscles have been contracting in my toes And the left side of my calf, possibly the soleus muscle. I wonder if it has something to do with the tightness in my front left hip the past couple of days. The contractions are worse when my hip is in a more contracted position, like sitting.

  59. LMS says:

    Can a C1 subluxation cause a horizontal nystagmus in forward flexion of the cervical spine. Non BPPV gravitational dependent?

  60. Diana Schwartz says:

    I was diagnosed with this problem in 1975. As a cop I had a lot of neck and head turning. Ended up out of law enforcement due to numerous physical problems. Now am 67 and have bad discs up and down. Diabetes and most of symptoms. Way worse as I have wheelchair now. Yikes.wish I had known more then.

    • MindBody says:

      I agree.
      What truly angers me about this is the way in which the medical profession has evaded the evidence provided by the chiropractic profession.
      The evidence is there.
      However, the Medical Profession has acted to preserve its monopoly rights as the premier source of reliable information.
      The role of one Dr Morris Fischbein, the former editor of the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) in coordinating this anti- competitive campaign was pivotal and is well documented in the book “The Medical War Against Chiropractic”.
      You need to be aware that your current state of disability could have been prevented if my profession had been more honest and even handed in its dealings with other professions.

      This attitude continues in the dishonest and anticompetetive activities of organisations such as the paradoxically named “Friends of Science in Medicine” in Australia and the crew of organised pseudoskeptics on sites like “Quackwatch”.

      It still boggles my mind when I understand how much pain and distress I could have been spared (and the rest of my family) if my mother had known to take me to a chiropractor after my traumatic birth.

      Unfortunately too many heads in the medical profession are still ruled by love of prestige and money.

  61. Susie says:

    thank you much for this blog. ive been reading for some time now. another blog led me to yours and it truly opened my eyes for other alternative treatments. though western doctors and insurances are not in the same page.
    At first I only had a mild pain behind the left ear. i thought it was ear infection. Later I learned it was TMJ. Then came emotional issues with symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, depression, panic attacks at night and day. then, food allergies, intolerance for coffee, gluten intolerance, fatigue, constant neck pain, mainly on the left side, back of the eyes pain, brain fog.
    i decided to change my eating habits. cut coffee, cut most gluten, eat clean, exercise more, get therapy, spiritual help. I saw improvement, but still had some symptoms, specially constant neck pain and back of the eyes pain.
    i tried NEAT, chiro treatment, meditation, acupucture, adjustments, biofeedback, neurofeedback. they all helped with many symptoms, but still, stomach discomfort, neck and eyes pain and TMJ never left me.
    because of this blog, i went after a upper cervical care specialist (It was interesting that when searching the web, upper cervical care rarely popped up, and they have quite a few options in America). I discovered I have a misalignment on my atlas and axis as well as btw my C4 and C5 and btw C6 and C7.
    not sure when this happened but i am sure all of the above was triggered by stress and bad posture working with computer all day. i still remeber the evening a few years ago when i really felt the pain in the neck which never went away til this day.
    I decided to try NUCCA since there was a doctor close by. I went for 2 months and I felt no change. Doctor saw measured changes in my hip, neck and leg. But I felt no change. Doctor wanted me to go see a TMJ dentist specialist since I still had neck pain, eyes pain, TMJ. That’s when I decided to stop going there. I guess since he mentioned in the beginning that i would really feel improvement on the first visits (and my regular chiro also said that) and I didn’t see changes, i felt discouraged to continue the treatment. not sure if I should seek another technique or just go to his dentist friend and continue with him since i already paid the package (of course it is extra $ to go see the dentist). also because i am not done with my own aligner treatment with another dentist whom I brought the TMJ issue up and didn’t see that it is a dental issue at the moment.
    i really dont know what I should do next.
    my question would also be, will the misalignment on c4 5 and 6 7 also cause pressure in the medula, right? would them also cause all the other symptoms or only from C1 and C2?
    another question: Do you think it is possible to “reshape” back the”C” curvature on ones cervical thru PT and exercise or even upper cervical treatment? thank you for your post and time.

    • MindBody says:

      This is a problem that may exist at a number of levels.
      There is feedback between the subocciptal,region, the TMJ, the thoracic spine the sacroiliac joints and the feet.
      Once we are past late adolescence – all need separate attention except for people who have acquired the injury late in life.
      Then there is the subtle re-moulding of brain function that drives us back into those harmful postures. The best defence is to learn to sit straight in the 7 point meditation posture– but choose a strict master- who will hit you if you slouch.

  62. Charles Cramer says:

    I have a question Are red spots down both sides of the neck starting from the ears down . Is that a sign of this?

  63. Susie says:

    I still continue to do my search and I came across trigeminal nerve which might have some relationship with the Atlas?!?

    • MindBody says:

      Yes- in some cases
      Thee are big interactions at the levels of the trigeminal ganglin, the TMJ. the upper cervical spine, the SI joint and the feet.

  64. MindBody says:

    Sorry, surgical fusions are outside the scope of this blog.

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