Atlas orthogonal treatment...why is nobody interested?

There has been a post a week ago about this therapy...It's an adjustment of the upper cervical called the atlas. it supports the head and when it's of balance can cause all sorts of nasty problems.

I'm surprised I'm the only one who responded to the discussion. Is this something a lot of you know about? Is it quakery?

I know from reading there has been little scientific proof...but SO WHAT??

Some time ago there was no proof the earth was round..but guess what, it sure is (well almost).

I have read a lot of good stories on the web about this and it sounds very logical.

I think it's certainly worth a try, I for one have nothing to loose except a couple of bucks( it's not expensive btw)...what do you guys know that I don't know :)

Red, any thoughts on this ? Anyone???

Hi Stevie,

I don't have any experience with Atlas, but found this on "". Hope this helps...


It was determined 3 weeks ago that my atlas disc was misaligned. After 3 adjustments by my chiropractor my numbness was 98% gone. On my 4th apt he determined that my C1 disc was now aligned and proceeded to align my C2 and center of my back. Within hours I was feeling numbness all over again. I went back the next day and he said that my C1 had moved. He determines this with a thumb to pinky test and sticking my tonge to either side of my mouth. He again adjusted me. I have now been adjusted twice and my C1 will not stay in alignment. He said that it was probably more a chemical reason than a physical reason and tested me with common chemicals. I had no adverse reaction. His conclusion now is that it is not staying due to stress. He suggested that I see a therapist to resolve my stress issues and that he cannot do anything else for me. I'm so confused! I do not think it is stress related and cannot find anything on the net that suggests the C1 disc will not align from stress or allergies to chemicals. Should I go see a ATLAS ORTHOGONIST? What about prolotheropy? I become so numb and dizzy sometimes I feel as if I'm going to faint. I have been totally numb for days. This also concerns me as the brain stem is also located at C1/C2. If this disc will not stay in place what am I to do- surgery? HELP!!

It is no wonder you are confused. The type of care you have been receiving is fringe and substandard. It represents an element in the chirpopractic profession that we're trying to get rid of. First: there is no such thing as a misaligned C1 or C2 that goes into place or out of place. It doesn't work that way. There is no C1 disc. A C2 disc is the least likely disc to be a problem on anyone's spine. C1 and C2 are the least likely regions to cause numbness - and I'm assuming you have numbness in the upper extremity, e.g. hands or fingers. "Atlas Orthoginal" is an outdated, unproven, unsubstantiated technique system. While decades ago there were odd case reports of patient's conditions resolving with weird techniques, these are not valid enough to substantiate an entire healthcare delivery system. I've had two different patients experience alleviation of back pain after tripping into a wall (in one case) and a telephone pole (in another case) after being yanked by their big dogs on a leash. This does not mean that I should create an entire healthcare paradigm using dogs to treat my patients.

First: you need a thorough- textbook standard - physical examination that includes an orthopedic and neurologic assessment, evaluation for why you have numbness (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome, if it's your hand that's numb), and why you have dizziness (e.g. do you have MS or benign positional vertigo?).

Second: avoid practitioners that are going to base your diagnosis on putting your tongue against your cheek. I don't care what sort of physiological explanation they can come up with, this is not a way to go about diagnosis. If a practitioner seems kooky, he/she likely is.

Third: Review with a qualified doctor of chiropractic which imaging or lab test have (or have not) been performed, e.g. xray, MRI, blood tests, etc.

Find a mainstream, modern, practitioner.

'Best of luck.
Dr. G

Stevie, I've been hearing anecdotal reports about upper cervical chiropractic for much of the past 16 years. There have been presentations on it at Trigeminal Neuralgia Association conferences as far back as 1998, and at one time video tapes of the presentations were available at the Association. But your remark about the lack of scientific proof very much (if unintentionally) summarizes some of the problems with this approach to TN.

There are reports in chiropractic journals with this technique, but outcomes have never been consistent that I know of. I suggest that you go to the National Library of Medicine and search their abstracts database for a match between trigeminal and chiropractic. You'll find eight articles. None of them are pertinent to controlled randomized trials, and some of them are still directed to animal models.


One other concern that needs to be thoughtfully addressed: although you won't hear it from chirpractors, there are also some historical case reports indicating harm to patients from over-enthusiastic adjustment of the cervical spine.

So is this approach a scam? In the hands of some chiropractors, yes I believe it is. There are a few idiots out there who still claim to cure MS or heart disease by chiropractic techniques combined with herbs. That doesn't invalidate the help that a few TN patients have gotten from Atlas adjustment. But it should qualify and limit any tendency to generalize broadly.

If you'd like, I can take a look for anecdotal reports in the TNA "Connect" postings database, to locate representative patient reports for you.

Regards and best,

R.A. "Red" Lawhern, Ph.D.

Resident Research Analyst, LwTN

The first and LAST time I ever went to a chiropractor, he screwed up my neck so bad it took six months to recover.

I love the statement from the repsonse on "":

I've had two different patients experience alleviation of back pain after tripping into a wall (in one case) and a telephone pole (in another case) after being yanked by their big dogs on a leash. This does not mean that I should create an entire healthcare paradigm using dogs to treat my patients.

Thank you Red , I'd like that... What do you think about the difference in the x-rays before and after the atlas correction? And the fact that the leg lenght will even out right after it's done? (I know I have a 1.5 cm difference in my leg lenght when i lay down.) Don't these things prove something on their own, even if it's not scientific? Or are these some sort of clever tricks being used by these atlas chiro's?

Gloria, the adjustment is made with very little pressure and no use of manually 'cracking' the head. Its called an AO instrument and is used combined with findings in x-rays. I agree that if one has a blood vessel nerve compression in the head, this probably won't help. In my case I'm not so sure I have that. I have more type 2 symptons.

The chiro in your - question- anecdote should have stopped when the results were good. Atlas chiro's only adjust the atlas and figure that way the rest will allign by itself( if there are no further issues with the other discs that is). If this is true...who knows, but it sounds logical to me and seemed to have helped a lot of people with serious chronic pain.

I don't see why you love that statement btw, very typical of a narrow minded doctor to me, cynical and arrogant . Although he does give good advice in his answer. Also, he says there is no c1 disc??? As far as i know that is the atlas and that's a bone, not a disc.

Btw, I will never have my neck cracked by a chiro again myself :) . This is just a bit different and there maybe something there. Thanks for your input Gloria..maybe it is all mumbo jumbo, i'll find out soon enough and let you know.

Take care.

My doctor doesn't think I should try it. He said it can be done wrong, and it can be really bad. Something about when they’re turning the head/body, the atlas vertebrate can move in such a way that it pinches off your carotid artery and it ruptures and you die almost immediately.

Red can probably correct me if I wrote this wrong. And I'm sure this is a rare outcome. Just sharing my doctor's opinion when I asked him...

Stevie, the type of "non-violent" adjustment you refer to has never (that I know of) been demonstrated to be more effective than placebo. Likewise, the primary mechanism in Type I (Typical) Trigeminal nerve pain has been shown to be vascular compression -- having nothing to do with alignment of the neck. Mechanisms in Type II pain are less clear.

Crystal, I've never heard of rupture to the carotid arteries due to chiropractic. If you can find a reference in mainstream medical literature, I'll use it in our Face Pain Info article. There are other problems for some people, however. Clearly, the older abrupt twisting mechanisms used in earlier chiropractic technique may cause injury when misapplied to the neck.

Regards both,


I have just begun atlas chiro treatment. Ive had MVD and no relief. My initial thoughts are i dont have much to lose as my severe pain is breaking through typical meds im taking. I will say, so far, treatments have helped in getting relief. Im still in alot of pain, but i do feel it is offering relief. I feel the treatments so far have changed the trajectory of the pain. Im keeping an open mind in my treatment for TN.

Andy, there is a difference between keeping an open mind and letting a desire for hope make a darned fool of you or outright injure you. Please read Gloria's posting from near the top of this thread. And this time THINK about it. If you're going to go through Chiropractic adjustments, then at least have an internist or neurologist monitor your progress frequently.

Regards, Red

Ewww...whenever I hear of anyone wanting to mess with the C1 and C2 makes me cringe. My son had a wreck 7 years ago when he was 17, he was in the back seat and was thrown all over a car that hit a telephone pole going 50 miles an hour. He broke his C1 adontal bone (the little boney protrusion that holds the skull up) completely off with the left side of C2 shattered. My son not only made it through the first nite (when we were literally told to tell him "good bye" ), but he is a thriving, healthy, whole, wonderful individual that has been blessed by God above! PLEASE DON'T MESS WITH THESE VERTEBRAE! Not only because they freak me out - greatly - BUT because I learned more than I ever wanted to know with dealing with what my precious son went through healing from his life changing injuries. They are put into place and should NEVER be tweaked, adjusted, or any other word that would involve moving them! Take care...and DON'T mess with this area, please!! :)

My functional doctor referred me to a chiropractor who specializes in

this treatment. x rays were required pre tx and after 13! tx's. I suspect that the xrays

were more harmful than the tx was helpful...which was nil. When I asked the provider

to explain his metrics, he was limited to the direction of the numbers. He did not have

a clue as to the underlying meaning, nor degree of significance. This is lazy and sloppy, hardly

inspiring. A huge waste of money, both for me and my insurance carrier. He claimed to be cure

TN. This was in the early days of my diagnosis. I was more open to going down rabbit holes. Lawyers

keep these guys in operation. They are share the distinction of being parasites on our economy. Having said that I do support chiropractic therapy. They just have a tendency to over reach. Everyone's experience can be different; this is mine.

Okay, I feel the need to defend just a bit here........ I was in a severe car crash a number of years ago. T-boned. My GP (not the one I have now, but is the reason I switched to the one I have now) told me over and over it was "soft tissue damage". He would not clear me with a release after a week from work. But I could not walk without severe pain.

I went to a chiro in my town. He does NOT crack bones but uses the same instrument that chiros use in the atlas procedure. After 3 procedures I could walk, but there was still some major pain. This chiro took an xray and thought he saw something.... he then sent me to have an MRI... sure darn enough, bulged discs in 3 locations. No wonder I could not walk without severe pain. This chiro kept treating me, but also after 3 months referred me out to both a neuro and a physical therapist. The neuro determined there was nerve damage, but that I was too young for a surgery. He determined the best course was further chiro treatment and physical therapy.

I credit the reason I walked and healed to the chiro. I would have suffered so much longer because that GP, who had been my doctor since the age of 5, was not compassionate and refused to listen.

I have been studying the atlas procedure. Dr. Bruchial at OHSU has on his website that this is a credible complimentary medical procedure that works for some. Not all, but some. You need to find a chiro that understand TN. Really understands it. We have one in my town. He has helped my friend with MS tremendously. I am not talking about healing or curing her, but making her comfortable and improving her quality of life.

I had another chiro tell me that there was no way she would help a TN patient because in her experience, using her technique (which requires cracking bones) often set patients with TN who had controlled pain, into pain spasms.

I know this not for everyone. And I don't want to offer false hope. But there are some "experts" in the field of TN who are on the medical advisory board, that believe that this can and sometimes does help.

Here's a site that lists some studies, with references at the bottom, that talks about the connection between NUCCA and its affect on the artery, leading to stroke.

I think Lisa's approach to chiropractic is reasonably balanced. Upper cervical adjustment can be helpful for some people, some of the time, if administered with appropriate oversight by an MD or internist. However the medical evidence for so-called "atlas" adjustment is just about nil,and violent adjustment of the neck is a positive danger to some people.

Regards and best,


Ok, I tried this and got my hopes up a little too much. It didn't do anything for me, also the atlas chiro did some other 'work' on me that was downright painfull, unlogical and...well stupid. I told him to stop it and walked out. I refused to pay him for this 'treatment'. Yup folks, there's a new hero in town..and he won't stand for it anymore. Be aware of...

TN MAN !!!! tatatatatataaaaaaaaaaa ")

I am currently going to an upper cervical care chritreatment. After 3 months my TN has improved and I am on less medicine. It is not cheap though. My insurance does not cover it. I have tried everything else and refuse to have surgery so I hope this continues to give me some relief.

My wife says something to the effect of---don't ever take hope away.

So I will just keep my mouth buttoned up. But I can't help myself, and you asked. A ton of wasted money,

not the mention a heavy dose of xrays. If this is working for you, that's another matter.

Entirely. I have the type 2 tn stuff, not to mention how different we all are.

hi guys,

just like to offer my experience of obtaining chiropractic treatment. after receiving upper cervical care, i have been pain free for almost a year.

TN got to me 13 years ago. i went through gamma knife, and used tegratol as the main "cure" whenever relapses occur. Till some stage, tegratol effectiveness starting reducing, and i resorted to chinese acupuncture, which then helped for a while. All these methods did not persist as well as chiropractic treatment.

my initial foray into chiropractic stemmed from my research in atlas orthogonal adjustment. unfortunately, where i live in singapore, no chiropractor offers this treatment. i ended up with upper cervical care with Dr Theo at Light Chiropractic. What he preached was holistic healing, reducing negative energy and stress from my life. The adjustments were just part of a process to help my body heal itself. Pain is just a symptom of other problems that my body is trying to inform me about. Keeping that in mind, i focused on positive thoughts, identified sources of stress in my life and try to reduce them in every way.

1 month into my therapy, i had no pain. i didn't have to take a single pill. my memory started regaining. and till date, i still go back to get adjusted every month even though i'm pain free.

The truth is - no one can guarantee a cure for everyone who suffers from TN. The plasticity of the brain is a new concept that defies years of neuroscience, that many neurologists are subscribed to in their education. No one understands how the brain works fully....yet.

Was i scared when i first tried chiro, yes i was. but i did my homework to find the most reputable chiro i can find around me.

Can it be quackery, yes it might. but google around, and you can also find MVDs that went wrong and all sorts of misdiagnosis. Will you call that quackery too?

Chiro worked for me. i hope to pass hope to someone who might be blessed to receive the same cure like me.

They may be others who find that chiro didn't work for them. There a different disciplines and school of thoughts among chirps as well. My chiro don't even want me to take an x-ray because he thinks that x-rays harm the body.

If you can find a chiropractor that offers atlas orthogonal adjustment near you, it is one of the least invasive chiro adjustment you can find. I went for the riskier option - manual upper cervical adjustments to my C2, and it solved my problem. I had classical TN - not as a result of any accidents or trauma.

The worst pain that TN dealt to me was seeing how people around me value their opinions about my pain more than the pain that i'm going through. Family and medical practioners alike.

Don't give up on finding something that works for you. Keep an open mind - think positive.

I have gotten the atlas orthogonal treatment i went 4 times at 100 dollars a pop that's with insurance i couldn't afford anymore it didn't work any miracles ...before that i was going to a regular chiro snap and pop kind for 2 months that didn't work either i still have tn Now i will saw it did relieve some pain here and there momentarily but once u stop it all came back

I quit going to the atlas treatment after 8 months. He still had me coming weekly at a cost of 70.00 each time. He was only doing an adjustment about every 2 months. I spent over 2000.00 dollars that was not covered by insurance. It got to the point I could not afford it and I was still having attacks. It has been almost a year since I have been and I really don't think it was worth it. I had days when I felt better but I have those now. When I was going to him I thought on good days it was because of the treatments but over the years I have seen it will come and go in spells. Sometimes I will have 3 or 4 good days but then I will have 3 or 4 bad. Then sometimes I will go a month without a good day. One day at a time is all I can do