In Greek mythology, Atlas was a titan in ancient times who was ordered by Zeus to spend an eternity holding up the Earth and the Heavens as punishment. Not a very easy thing to do. In your own skeleton, you have a bone called Atlas that holds up your whole skull, provides flexibility for head mobility, and feedback for posture. Again, not an easy thing to do.
This tiny bone wraps around your spinal cord at the brainstem and is responsible for providing structure to the spine as well as allowing fully 50% of your head rotation. Your atlas holds up your skull where it allows head nodding, and it pivots around the axis below it for rotation. It’s got many tiny muscles that are extremely sensitive to movement attached to it. When the atlas and the upper cervical complex is working right, which is most of the time for most people, you aren’t even aware of the complexity of the structure and movement up there.
When things go wrong, though, your own atlas will disrupt your entire earth and heavens. In my practice, if you came in with a problem with your atlas, you mostly likely feel lousy. Women are most likely affected by this with problems with headaches and even migraine headaches.
Researchers have even shown that your upper neck, when out of sorts, can cause dizziness and even problems with hearing. The treatment of choice for problems in the atlas and upper cervical complex is chiropractic care. Chiropractic care “adjusts” the way the neck moves and the way it is aligned so pressure is taken away from the muscles and nerves that try to adapt to its poor position and posture.
There are several good chiropractic techniques that effectively improve the way your atlas works. One of our favorites in my clinic is the toggle recoil technique. This is an old timey chiropractic technique that surprisingly few chiropractors use anymore. I use the toggle technique on you sparingly because of the potentially powerful results. This technique isn’t used as a matter of routine, rather it is used with careful discretion.
Your atlas usually responds very well to a different specific chiropractic adjustment. The HVLA adjustment improves the natural movement of your atlas, it provides you with a reflex to relax your tight muscles, and it provides a reflex to relax the pain pathways at the spinal cord and brainstem. This means that If you are suffering from migraine headaches that are caused by the atlas being out of sorts, your migraine headaches will melt away.
In my experience, when you come in to our clinic with migraine headaches, and if I find strong upper neck findings, I will be very confident that your headaches will occur less, with less duration, and with less intensity.
Todd Lloyd, DC
Chiropractic Physician in Salt Lake City