What is Atlas Orthogonal?
Atlas Orthogonal is a specialized chiropractic technique and system. Straight chiropractors and mixed chiropractors whose philosophies lean towards a more straight style primarily use this system. Atlas Orthogonal is a system that allows balance to be restored in the body so that the body can heal itself. It falls under the philosophy of straight chiropractic, which stresses “vitalism, “innate intelligence” and spinal adjustments, considering “vertebral subluxations” to be the cause of all disease.” This is unlike mixed chiropractic, a style which mixes both traditional, straight chiropractic methods with a broader range of healing methods.¹
Atlas Orthogonists are Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) with over 6 years of education. In addition, they also have specialized training in not only light-force methods of adjusting the spine, but extra education in using the orthogonal percussion instrument. This instrument is safe and painless as it requires no direct manipulation or invasive surgery. Atlas Orthogonists first use the instrument to determine the extent of the vertebral misalignment. Then they use the brief vibration of sound to restore the atlas vertebra to its optimal position. Its goal is to restore “body balance without forceful movements or twisting of the neck or back”.² The instrument is used to achieve this goal by reducing cervical spine misalignment and the related symptomology from spinal misalignment. It is even common for patients to not believe that they have received adjustment from the instrument until they notice the improvement in function and relief of discomfort.³
The inventor of the Atlas Orthogonal Procedure was Dr. Roy Sweat. He devised a method of using a “percussion wave, which is a vibration to re-position the atlas vertebra”. He believed that less force was needed to align the spine.4
How Misalignment Happens
The atlas vertebra in the body is positioned right under the head. At only a weight of 2 ounces, it is meant to carry that 9+ pound weight of the head. If the atlas is doing its job, it supports the weight of the head in the orthogonal (neutral) position. The head and atlas vertebra should be squared and aligned with the head, as misalignment creates complications.
If there is misalignment, such as from stress, strain, or trauma, whether from a fall, accident, or even lifting or sleeping incorrectly, the body will try to compensate. The spine tries to adapt to keep the head over the feet, but then it can become misaligned. When this happens, muscles contract and one leg can even appear shorter than the other. Nerve pressure and inflammation can follow, and this leads to headaches, facial, and neck pain. Complications caused by misalignment might lead to a worsening physical and mental condition for the patient. Eventually, this can leave them in a state far worse than that of having just spinal misalignment.5
What to Expect in Treatment
The Atlas Orthogonal (AO) Percussion Adjusting Instrument provides a precisely directed sound vibration that only lasts for a split-second. The DC applies it just behind the ear. The spring-loaded solenoid taps the stylus and creates only about 3 pounds of force on the skin surface. The Atlas Orthogonist then makes the atlas imperceptibly move through that sound vibration. The pinpoint adjustments are created just for the individual. Patients will feel the stylus and hear the click. The instrument’s sound vibration will only affect its directed target.
The Atlas Orthogonist performs AO over a series of treatments. Every person and their physical complications are different, and some patients will need more care than others. The number of treatments is something that the chiropractor should be able to generally estimate. However, this number could decrease if the patient finds treatment to be particularly effective.6
Treatment is painless and almost completely unnoticeable, and it is done without jerking movements. Patients may experience symptoms or changes during the treatment process, which can demonstrate that healing is occurring. Patients may feel their symptoms decrease, or they may have more tiredness or stiffness. Pain during recovery is meant to signal that the body is healing itself. It is not uncommon for the body to have a somewhat sore reaction to receiving chiropractic care. This is why many patients should not overexert themselves on the same day that they receive chiropractic care of any kind. They can consult the chiropractor to find out about any temporary recommended limitations, and the patients can also listen to their own body.7
When performing the Atlas Orthogonal technique, the chiropractor will take x-rays pre-and post-adjustment so that patients can see the subtle but powerful changes taking place.8
Uses of Atlas Orthogonal
The Atlas Subluxation Complex is a “misalignment of the bone structure of the head and neck”. When this happens, patients experience tension, pain, and stress. Many conditions can be treated with Atlas Orthogonal, including migraines, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, allergies, repetitive stress and athletic injuries, sciatica and scoliosis, and more.9
2, 7, 9 http://www.realheadachesolutions.com/what-is-atlas-orthogonal
4, 5, 8 http://www.atlasorthogonality.com/PatientSite/aboutAO.html