Before Chiropractic College, my only interpretation of the word “Atlas” is the colourful Geography textbook that holds a collection of beautiful maps. I used to leaf through those pages and imagine all the places that I would travel to one day. So imagine my confusion when on my first day in class, everyone starts talking about the power of ‘An Atlas adjustment”!

Lesson one in my journey as a chiropractor is, the “Atlas” is the first bone in our cervical spine! (By the way, I learnt later also that “cervical” can mean our neck, not just that PAP smear that we ladies need to do on an bi-annual basis). This Atlas is a very uniquely-shaped bone that is very different from the rest of the bones in our spine. While the rest of the spinal bones kind of look like shingles on a roof, stacked neatly on top of one another, the atlas looks more like an oval shaped washer between our skull and the rest of our neck.

The rest of the bones in our neck stacked neatly like shingles on a roof.

The Atlas looks like an oval-shaped washer between our skull and the rest of our neck.

Because of its proximity to our brain, there are many intricate vessels (arteries, nerves, veins, etcetera) that pass through this atlas bone before they reach our brain. One of these all-important vessels is a particular artery called the vertebral artery that supplies blood to our brain. However the atlas relies solely upon muscles and ligaments to maintain alignment and is uniquely vulnerable to misalignment. Moreover the misplacement of atlas can be relatively pain free. Hence atlas misalignment can remain undiagnosed and untreated.

So imagine, like a garden hose, the vertebral artery supplies blood to your brain. If along the way, the washer (the atlas) is misaligned, blood flow through this artery is constricted. What happen next will a reduction of blood supply to the brain while your blood pressure in areas below the atlas builds up!

Blood flow to brain is blocked: Reduced blood supply to the brain while BP elsewhere builds up!

Research had proved the relationship between hypertension and circulatory abnormalities in the area around the atlas bone for more than 40 years. In fact, compression of the vertebral artery is noted in 90.6% of people who suffer from hypertension. So changes in the atlas anatomy can generate changes in the vertebral circulation that may be associated with high blood pressure. Question is, why am I telling you all this?

Because chiropractors can offer a NON-SURGICAL approach to align the atlas! A 2007 study involving 50 patients with hypertension has proved that chiropractic adjustment to align the atlas provide LONG TERM improvement to alleviating increase in blood pressure (Bakris, G, etc, in Journal of Human Hypertension, volume 21).

And this is if we are just talking about the constriction of ONE blood vessel due to a misalignment of ONE bone. What about the other arteries, nerves, veins that are constricted elsewhere due to misalignments of other bones. We have about 206 bones in the adult human body and most of them move! Wouldn’t it nice if all these bones are nicely aligned and not choking our circulatory systems in one spot or another? And this is how regular chiropractic care promotes good health. When our spine is free of vertebral subluxations (misalignments), our body is allowed to function fully the way it is designed to!


About the Author

Dr. Roy Chan is a local born and bred Singaporean who graduated from the esteemed Sherman College of Chiropractic, U.S.A. with honours (Cum Laude). He is the clinic director of Chan Family Chiropractic.

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