Balance Point Clinics, Inc.

Chapman Clinic for Spinal Epigenetics
3311 North University Avenue
Suite 150
Manchester Building
Provo, Utah 84604

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www.spinalepigenetics.com

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My Atlas Bone Correction

Hello. I’m Dr. Chapman.

I created this website to educate you about the Atlas Orthogonal Correction or healing your body through careful adjustments made to your atlas bone.

If you are a patient who has been treated using the Atlas Orthogonal procedure at the Chapman Clinic for Spinal Epigenetics, and you have entered the numbers as they were written on your card at our clinic, this animation should demonstrate exactly how your neck, head, and atlas are misaligned from their normal position according to measurements made from your x-rays.

If you are a guest, then random degrees (or misalignment factors) have been chosen to illustrate a common condition.

The animation you will see is not meant to dramatize your condition, but rather to effectively illustrate the resulting dislocation of joints (subluxation) down to the exact degree of misalignment. This illustration is solely meant to educate you and your friends and family. I have found that patient outcomes are significantly improved when you understand what is going on inside your own body and when you have the tools to share that information with your loved ones, other healthcare practitioners on whom you depend, and your supportive friends.

I hope this website serves you well. If you have suggestions for improvements or find errors or confusing language, please bring them to my personal attention.

The Problem

An injury to your spine has torn loose the connective tissue, ligaments, and muscles that were responsible for maintaining your normal posture, including the critical alignment of your head and neck. This type of trauma is relatively common due to the vulnerable nature of the joints at the base of the head. The result is often similar to what you see in the animation on the right, where the head, neck, and atlas have shifted from their normal position. We measure the misalignment in degree increments.

This malposition causes stress by interfering with the important “bio-essential traffic,” like blood, nerve impulses, and spinal fluid, that flows to and from the brain. This disturbance also creates general posture distortion as the body compensates below to adapt to the mal-positioned head and neck above.  

Correcting the Atlas Bone

Utilizing a precise system of analysis based on physics, math, and spinal biomechanics, we are able to calculate the critical but ultra-low force vector needed to reposition your head and neck. We use these highly sophisticated calculations to gently bring your head, neck, and atlas back into optimal alignment (represented by the red correction arrow when you click on the correction button).

We can thus correct this complex and delicate region of the spine with very little force and without the customary ”twisting” or “popping” of the neck. In fact, most patients don’t even feel the adjustment. As the correction in the upper neck is achieved, the entire body is brought back into balance and becomes more upright. Disturbances at the brainstem are also relieved, allowing people with problems in the lower part of their bodies to respond well to the Atlas Orthogonal correction as the body decompensates and returns to a more ideal structural position.

The Atlas Orthogonal Difference

The upper cervical (upper neck) misalignment is the most complex and difficult region of the spine to align. However, when correction is achieved, the results can be very profound, bringing relief and improvement to important body functions such as digestion, circulation, brain function, and sleep… just to name a few. I hope this is your experience too.

You will likely notice changes throughout your body–perhaps over time–as normal alignment and posture are restored. Some changes may be dramatic; others will be subtle. Look for such changes to occur and discuss with me any thoughts, concerns, or experiences that you have as your body heals. I’m committed to helping you regain your health and meet your health goals.

A tremendous amount of initial and ongoing training and focus is required to deliver a quality Atlas Orthogonal correction. I am an expert at getting the atlas in position, but truthfully, I am still a student of how the body heals. For some people, this correction may be simple and straightforward; for others, it is very complex and may even involve addressing the dental system, including your “bite.”

That’s why my associates and I have dedicated ourselves to mastering this procedure. We are also developing educational materials that clarify this vital procedure as well as training other health professionals and lay persons to recognize it. Your feedback will help us perfect our clinical excellence.

Dr. Chapman

A Closer Look

Posture And Body Balance

The lower brainstem, in addition to its role in other key functions of the brain, processes information regarding body posture and balance. Trauma to this area can create a weakness in supportive connective tissues, causing the head and the neck to misalign in this most critical spinal region (the cranio-vertebral junction).

One effect of misalignments of the head and neck at the atlas joint is that muscles along each side of the neck, at the base of the head, and along the spine begin to pull unevenly, shifting the entire body off-center. At the same time, the body attempts to keep the eyes somewhat level  through compensating mechanisms that cause it to veer back towards the vertical axis.

This misalignment of the head and neck is called a subluxation (pronounced sub-lux-a-shen). Click on The Bigger Picture above to learn how a subluxation affects the entire body as it compensates within the compromised region at the atlas joint.

 

Blood Pressure, Respiration

and Heart Rate

One of the most complex systems of the human body is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which has centers that govern neurological functions like blood pressure, respiration (breathing), and heart rate. These neurological centers are located in the lower brainstem and can be adversely affected by the biological stress of a structural upper neck misalignment (Atlas Subluxation).

Recent research has shown that an Atlas Orthogonal Correction helps people with high blood pressure. The following link will direct you to the WebMD summary of the study:

http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20070316/chiropractic-cuts-blood-pressure

 

Sleep / Mood

In the lower brainstem and throughout the brain, the body produces the chemical serotonin.  Serotonin influences various internal functions, including regulation of mood, sleep, appetite, muscle contraction, and some cognitive functions such as memory and learning.

An upper neck misalignment causing stress on the lower brainstem may affect how efficiently the brain functions, thus reducing serotonin production. Low serotonin production can have a profound affect on a person’s energy level and overall sense of “aliveness.”  For example, in cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, studies have shown that a precise atlas correction can produce more favorable outcomes on the RAND 36 questionaire (a survey used by some providers to assess overall health) than conventional medical treatments such as medication.

Sleep may have such chemical associations as well, but a more feasible explanation for more restful sleep after an Atlas Orthogonal Correction can be explained by changes in the volume of the upperairway. This biomechanical alteration of the upper airway is called pneumopedics.

My research shows that improvement to the cervical curve can affect changing the posterior and anterior boundary,  making the upper airway larger and more voluminous. In other words, common symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), such as awakening during the night to begin breathing again, decrease with a more capacious airway.

 

Immune Function

The Autonomic Nervous System also controls all of the body functions that we don’t have to think about—for example, the Sympathetic Nervous System (that part of our Autonomic Nervous System that becomes more active during times of stress, often referred to as the fight-or-flight response). Upper neck misalignment can create long-term hyper-activation of the fight-or-flight response, known to suppress the body’s Immune System.

Because the sum of energy in any system is finite, the body uses energy in the most efficient manner—even employing heat from those complex biochemical pathways to maintain our core temperature at a steady 98.6 degrees. When too much energy is directed to other systems, such as an imbalanced musculoskeletal system or a hyperactive sympathetic system, the body has less energy for immune response, or other functions. The effect is an over-whelming sense of malaise and fatigue as there is just less energy to go around.

 

Digestion and Reproduction 

The Vagus nerves are influential in regulating digestion and elimination. They work in counterpoint to the sympathetic spinal nerves that control and regulate digestion and other visceral functions of our internal vital organs. The vagus nerve can also be adversely affected by misalignment of the upper neck because it passes right next to the atlas vertebra as it comes down from the brain, and it’s centers in the brainstem receive blood from the vertebral arteries. The vertebral arteries pass through small openings in the cervical vertebrae, and through the atlas bone, hence, malposition’s can create positional vascular insufficiency symptoms which affect the cranial nerves.

 

Facial Problems

Many cranial nerves affect the face, eyes, and jaw. Cranial nerve dysfunction can result from malpositioning of the head and neck which distorts the crowded network of muscles, nerves, arteries, and veins along the cranial base. These delicate and important nerves exit the cranial base just above the atlas-occipital joint.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Hypoglossal Neuraglia

Bells Palsy

Meniere’s Disease

Sinus Problems

Dizziness

have occurred in conjunction with a misalignment of the head and neck.  Since  cranial nerves have internal spinal tracts and regions that descend into the upper neck, patients with misalignment problems in that area often respond quickly and positively to the Atlas Orthogonal Correction.

My Rotational Displacement - How Did I Get This Way?

The misalignment you see in the animation is the rotational component of whiplash or another neck injury which occurs when the neck and shoulders are slightly rotated–often this occurs in minor car accidents.  Many misalignment’s can be traced back to childhood:  falling out of bed, a tumble down the steps, a fall off the bike, hayloft, or out of the backyard tree…  There are so many different injury scenarios.  In other cases, it’s not the abrupt trauma event as I’ve mentioned above–rather, it can be the slow steady decline resulting from a chronically bad sitting, standing or working posture from a repetitive task. Posture is behavior. The body learns and adapts. Think back, and you’ll probably come up with a few possibilities of where your misalignment origninates. Regardless of the cause, a vast majority of people are left with some sort of upper neck misalignment and posture distortion by the time they reach adulthood. Keep in mind that some of these misalignments often remain pain-free until a more recent injury occurs. Or sometimes, simply having the underlying misalignment and body imbalance present for years will catch up to us as spinal joints and discs degenerate prematurely (click on the Menu tab “How Does This Affect My Health” button). This is similar to what happens with tooth decay. A cavity can exist for years before the tooth causes pain.

The Bigger Picture

Injury to the upper neck has a global affect on the body.  We call this effect the Atlas Subluxation Complex. When the head and neck are misaligned due to injury (Atlas Subluxation), the first cervical vertebra is no longer positioned properly under the head.  This inappropriate shifting of the atlas into a harmful position can cause mechanical, vascular and neurological stress to the spinal cord and brainstrem. This can affect the posture control centers in the lower brainstem.  When this occurs, the posture muscles that run along each side of the spine become imbalanced as one side pulls harder than the corresponding muscles on the other side. This shifts the body settles into a compensatory posture.  The result is the picture you see on the right. Often, more weight will be placed on one leg, as the body settles into this unbalanced state.  I have measured up to 90 lbs difference in weight as a result of a subluxated atlas. This phenomenon has led me to speculate that this may perhaps be why one side of the body’s joints, such as a hip joint, or knee joint wears out faster than the other–thus making the patient a candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”  When we restore the head to its proper position on the neck–at least in 90% of the cases–these radical imbalances return to normal.

Again, I speculate that with the body balanced, it wears more evenly on those supportive joints such as the hips, knees, ankles and feet…. and it’s no surprise that pain in those areas disappears. Press the “Show My Misalignment” button on the lower right corner of the screen, and you will notice the short leg, uneven hips, high shoulder and head tilt.  Look closely at your friends and family as they face you, and you may be able to tell if they should be referred for a Atlas Orthogonal evaluation. It’s vitally important because body imbalances caused by atlas subluxation have a very negative long term effect on spinal discs, and the spinal vertebraes.

Atlas Subluxation and Spinal Epigenetics

The spine has the ability to grow bone spurs–it also has the ability to “ungrow” them.  When the body’s weight is not distributed evenly across the discs and spinal bones, several very natural processes began occurring in the spine, such as: degenerative disc disease, joint disease, disc herniation, bone spurs, scoliosis and stenosis. All of these conditions are secondary in nature, and demonstrate the  spinal epigenetic phenomenon. Because these negative processes and conditions come on in response to a primary negative condition, when the primary negative problem is resolved, the body can then began to reverse the secondary changes–this is essentially epigenetic.   I often say that the main differences between a 75 year-old on the golf course and a 75 year-old pushing a walker is usually found in their spines!

How Does This Affect My General Health?

To answer this, it is important that you understand that the nervous system controls, monitors, regulates every function of the body adapt, and is responsible for adapting to an almost infinite set of situations, most of which we don’t consciously think about. For instance, our heart rate, breathing, perspiration, reflexes, etc. all respond when needed, and without conscious oversight.  The nervous system is the very first body part to differentiate and develop in the mother’s womb. Once it forms, the spinal segments, the heart, the vascular and organ systems form. It is quite a wonderful and miraculous process. The spine and head (axial skeletal system)  develops for purpose of housing and protecting the delicate and essential central nervous system, and to provide a structural mechanism so the human body can become erect.  The spine and skull protect the central nervous system throughout life – until the spine begins to misalign and breakdown as described on the previous page. The spine protects the spinal cord, like a knight’s protective armor deflects the deadly blow of a broad sword, but chafes the knights’ delicate parts something fierce…. The spine does a good job of this protection until injury damages it, causing it to misalign and breakdown prematurely.

As you may have suspected, the spinal area known to be the most vulnerable to injury and misalignment is the atlas joint. When this condition is detected, the diagnosis of atlas subluxation is rendered.  The upper two vertebrae in the neck (atlas and axis) account for almost half of our head movements.  They also have unique joint qualities that differ from the rest of the sturdy interlocking spinal joints, hence, they are especially vulnerable to injury and subluxation.  The brain-stem is the nervous system’s “Grand Central Station”. The brainstem transitions into the medula oblongata (another important part of the central nervous system) and then transitions to become the upper spinal cord as the central nervous system descends out of the base of the skull between these two joints. The upper spinal cord is positioned right in the middle of the atlas bone, and is filled with billions of information transmitting nerve fibers brimming with information coming from and going to the brain. That is why misalignment here, can effect so many things in the body downstream.

Atlas subluxation can place direct pressure on the spinal cord and/or the delicate nerves that exit between each vertebrae of the spine.  As a result, any body part served by these nerves that loses its flow of energy to and from the brain because of this pressure will not function properly.  For example, if the nerve that supplies the stomach is stressed, problems such as indigestion, heartburn, re-flux, bloating and gas can occur.

Atlas subluxation creates structural and neurological stress in the body.  The body then responds to this stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system.  Long term sympathetic nervous system activity has been proven to cause the immune system to be suppressed and adrenal exhaustion.

Long term body imbalance caused by atlas subluxation can lead to premature aging and degeneration of the spine itself.  Degenerative Arthritis is the more common term for this wear and tear.  As spinal degeneration becomes advanced, the vertebrae themselves encroach upon the spinal nerves causing them to slowly lose their ability to transmit vital brain messages.  Doctors refer to this condition as spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis can cause nerve damage.

How Do I Hold my "Posture of Life"?

Invest in yourself–and protect your investment

Many patients ask this question:  If the correction is so gentle, what keeps it in place and won’t the slightest of movements cause it to misalign again?  The answer to this question is difficult to simplify in all cases of misalignment and correction. Compliance to the scheduled treatment plan is essential. Following instructions and advice on general “do’s and don’ts” increases your likelihood of maintaining the correction. These are often tailored to your particular needs.  If appropriate, CORE  stretches and therapies will be prescribed to reach clinical goals. Herbal remedies specially formulated to help the body heal through the various phases of healing have been created and developed by David Christopher, MPH which will help the body regenerate injured, diseased and failing supportive tissue. Advisement on any of these healing substances or processes that you are given, is not given lightly, and can play an important role in reaching your goal of holding your alignment.

Teeth posture, also known as Occlusion plays an important role

We have also learned that teeth posture (how the teeth come together), also known as the “bite”  can play an important role in the stability of the correction.  When the bite is dysfunctional this is known as a malocclusion). A malocclusion can cause the atlas to be pulled out of the proper position.

How it Happens: Dr. A. C. Fonder, DDS discovered that the malposturing of C1 and C2 (atlas subluxation) caused mandibular dysfunction. This resulted in a twisting, compensating effect of the lower neck bones and shoulders resulting in jaw dysfunction, which continued further down the spine causing functional scoliosis, cervical hypolordosis (military neck), thoracic hyperkyphosis (hump back), excessive lumbar lordosis (sway back), rotation of the pelvis causing uneven leg lengths, uneven shoulder height,  limping, etc. The Atlas Subluxation can also affect the cranial bones. Because of their multiple attachments to the dura mater, they can also become malpostured and settled into a harmful position as the dura mater is torqued. Often, when the 136 muscles that move the jaw are allowed to assume a more physiologically balanced relationship by correcting the atlas, the rest of the body structures tend to decompensate and “migrate” towards a more natural “upright posture”. But in some cases, a severe or strong malocclusion can impede this corrective healing process.  When the atlas is corrected, the head immediately assumes an upright posture, the shoulders level off, the pelvic rotation ceases allowing the leg length to equalize, and overall bodily posture dramatically normalizes. These changes are instantaneous. If there is degredation of this optimal full body posture change from the atlas correction, it is a strong indication that the problem may include the need to correct the malocclusion along with the atlas. As a result of this observation, I have developed, along side pioneering dental and orthodontic scientists and researchers effective multidisciplinary protocols to co-manage the correction and maintenance of the misalignment. Combining the most advanced dental technology and upper cervical technology, we can effectively become stable and hold the posture of life. This combined technology can cause the epigenetic redevelopment of the upper neck bones and craniofacial bones and help to stabilize the ideal head and neck posture and position. Because the malocclusion affects the atlas, correcting the atlas can also correct and enhance TMJ function, and dramatically enhance dental treatment of the TMJ Syndrome.

Your Nervous System’s Role

Spinal misalignment is perpetuated by ongoing stress and miscommunication to the nerves that control posture and body balance.  This is why your spine hasn’t corrected on its own, and why your body has continued to compensate, adapt and has done everything it could to keep you going without getting to the root of the problem.  Once an exact corrective force is delivered to the upper spine and nerve flow is normalized, the posture control centers in the brain that keep your spine in its upright, vertically aligned position become activated.  When the posture muscles are balanced the spine is much more stable and becomes more difficult to misalign with time. Doing whatever it takes to ensure this goal is met in the primary focus of our clinical care and management.

Your Role

Once again, it is important for you to follow the specific recommendations and suggestions I make pertaining to caring for your spine following a correction.  As a general rule of thumb follow these guidelines should be observed after a correction:

The Same Day  – Be cautious with your head movements.  Avoid any extreme or quick movements but at the same time don’t walk around too stiff-necked. Don’t paint your ceiling, carry to many groceries at one time, and decide to spring-clean your garage, or play tackle football with your kids or friends. Try to avoid, abrupt twisting, jerking movements of your head. Using full range of motion gradually is fine.

The First Three Days – Be cautious with head positions.  If you are seated next to someone at the dinner table, or in a bad seat in a movie theater–don’t sit with your head turned for a half-hour talking to that person or watching a movie.  You can move your head in normal ways just don’t remain in non-neutral positions for too long. Walk, move your body and try not to be too sedentary.

The First Two Weeks – Avoid extreme physical activity, prolonged abnormal postures or heavy lifting.  If you’ve a heavy load to lift, recruit help. If you have to lift at work, avoid it at home for the first few weeks. This advice is devised to help you protect your investment in yourself!! It’s once of the best investments you can make! For some, this may be impossible because of the demands of your work or sport. If you lose your alignment, no worries–I can put it back into place. What I am presenting here is the ideal.

Phases Of Degeneration

Normal Cervical Spine

The first and most important job of the spine is to house and protect the Nervous System, the close second is to keep you (because you’re a biped) in the upright position. Normal spinal curves and healthy discs provide maximum protection and optimal function of the nervous system. The process of spine and nervous system breakdown and decay is called Spinal Degeneration secondary to Atlas Subluxation. Characteristics of a Normal Cervical Spine include: • Healthy • Pain Free • Physically Fit • Stress Free

Phase I: 5-15 Years of Adaptation

Uncorrected spinal trauma results in loss of normal curve, disc narrowing and subtle spine and nerve malfunction. Because the body is so adaptable, this early phase can exist without the warning of pain or other symptoms. If left uncorrected, the degeneration continues. Common symptoms of Phase I Degeneration include: • Headaches • Neck Pain • Strained Muscles • Shoulder Tension

Phase II: 15-30 Years of Adaptation

Recognized on x-ray by visible bone spurs and rough edges of the vertebrae. Abnormal bony growths distort the shape and function of the vertebrae and cause stress to discs, joints and ligaments. Breakdown of these soft tissues results in lack of normal joint movement, inflammation and interference to nerve flow. Common symptoms of Phase II Degeneration include: • Arthritis • Disc Disease • Degenerated Joints • Fatigue • Joint Pain

Phase III: 30+ Years of Adaptation

A lifetime of neglect may cause the eventual fusion of the malfunctioning joints. Atrophy, permanent nerve damage, and soft tissue degeneration are prevalent. Reduced mobility and impaired nervous system function, diminish one’s quality of life. Common symptoms of Phase III Degeneration include: • Chronic Pain • Irreversible Damage • Spine Disease (stenosis) • Relief Care Only Remember: The difference between a 75 year-old on the golf course and a 75 year-old pushing a walker in often found in the condition of their spines!

Addressing Malocclusion and TMD

A Deeper Look into the Importance of the Dental System and the Atlas

Treatment of the jaw joints—such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD), malocclusion  and other bite related issues many be enhanced by combining therapy with Atlas Aligning chiropractic procedures such as Atlas Orthogonal (AO) or NUCCA. Essentially, “getting one’s head on straight can make all the difference.”  

The Atlas Orthogonal (AO) and NUCCA procedures can restore the essential balance and positioning of the head, neck and back.

Malpositions of the head and neck are often associated with a common jaw disorder called Temporomandibular Joint  (TMJ) Dysfunction, or TMD. TMD is also known as TMJ Syndrome.

The jaw joint is a “functional hinge” joint—which, ironically does not “rotate around the TM joint”. Instead, it is more accurately described as “being suspended and docked” in the joint space rather than being “anchored there”—much the way a boat is secured into a slip.

The jaw, or mandible as it is called, is positioned and held by 68 pairs of muscles which are anchored to the head, neck and shoulder, and, unlike the vast majority of the other joints in the body which remain in their location during joint range of motion, the right and left jaw joints vary in their location with functional movement. It helps to view the temporomandibular joints as biomechanical “reference points”, rather than fixed pivot or anchor points. Because of their nature, the tempororomandibular joints are functionally complex.

Because of this complexity, I cannot underscore the importance of having a multisystem “understanding” of the mandibles sophisticated behavior patterns and it’s relationship to other key structures—primarly the atlas and axis vertebraes, the attached 68 muscle pairs and the nervous system. This knowledge is essential when treating complex TMD.

 

There is good news:  Although the TMJ is complex in its function and relationship with other structures, it does have a simple, identifiable axis of movement. However, that pivot point of motion is not in the jaw joint itself! Rather, the angular rotation of the mandible (it’s functional “anchor point” if you will) is the dens of the C2 vertebrae, also known as the Axis. The name “dens” in Latin means “tooth”. So, in essence, the functional axis of jaw, and hence the dynamic pivot of occlusion (the Bite), takes place around the only part of the human spine which anatomists—centuries ago I might add—named the “tooth”… Amazing, isn’t it!?

It has been my long experience that when the axis of something is askew, the angular movement of that thing which moves around the skewed axis also becomes irregular in its movement. Therefore, complete treatment of the mandible and it’s joints requires that the position and function of the C2 vertebrae be addressed.

TMD Syndrome may occur when the normal functional “positions” of the jaw joints shift and settle into irregular positions during movement and use, and a “grinding” or “wearing” use-pattern develops while awake or while sleeping. When the motion of the jaw becomes irregular, we may experience pain, jaw-popping or locking and discomfort. This is an indication of underlying pathology. This abnormal use-pattern and positioning can cause more than just pain—the sufferer of the syndrome can also experience abnormal tooth wear, chewing discomfort, airway or breathing problems, sleep disturbances and speaking problems.

The pain and problems of TMD (TMD morbidity) can be quite diverse. Jaw disorders can refer or participate in the formation of pain and dysfunction, not only in the head, neck and upper back, the face and the teeth—–but throughout the entire body! Consequently, this multisystem, “trickledown disorder” can cause the patient to seek out multiple practitioners for treatment of their various complaints throughout the body. Unfortunately, in this scenario, the participating providers too often find it difficult to communicate about the etiology (cause), let alone workout a therapeutic regimen for the patient by combining their respective procedures and clinical protocols for the good of the patient. This happens not because they are bad doctors, but because our system of healthcare does not facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration—especially between certain types of practitioners. The reasons for this sort of discord and non-integration of health care providers are complex in-and-of themselves, and I mention it here, not to digress, but because I do believe—and with good reason—that this is where many TMD therapies fail. Lack of co-management!

In my clinical experience, TMD disorders, even advanced and complex cases of TMD respond well to AO treatment—sometimes as a stand-alone therapy, but more often as a combined therapy with a qualified dentist, working together, to achieve a common success outcome.

Exactly How Are The Atlas and Axis Realigned? To help the reader better understand why and how the atlas aligning procedure can be a powerful intervention and correction for TMD, I have taken a few paragraphs to carefully and accurately describe the AO procedure itself. And, later on in this article, I present important excerpts from a dental researcher, Dr. A. Fonder in hopes that the reader will be able to make the connection between the status of their atlas, their bite and their jaw joints.

The Atlas Orthogonal (AO) treatment is a corrective cervical spine alignment procedure performed by Board Certified Atlas Orthogonists (BCAO) chiropractic physicians.

The AO specialist utilizes 3-dimensional images (via CT or X-ray) to locate and identify abnormal malpositions of the skull, the atlas, the axis and the other 5 cervical vertebraes. Once the exact malposition has been mapped out in 3-D space, a biomechanical analysis protocol is used to derive a mathematically formulated vector. This vector is programmed into a corrective instrument which is designed to transfer a mechanical wave into the atlas vertebrae.  The procedure is performed when the doctor precisely places the instrument against the skin over the atlas, scarcely dimpling the contact point. The doctor activates the electromagnetic magnetic driver, which produces 1.8 pounds of force. The mechanical wave is transferred through the stylus into the atlas vertebra.

The directional mechanical wave interacts with the atlas causing the atlas to transfer the mechanical energy to the adjacent vertebrae. This causes the spinal segments to shift their torqued and locked positions towards an axially aligned position along the upright axis of the spine, and the atlas vertebrae returns to its aligned position under the base of the skull.

Following the procedure, the patient is physically re-examined, and, if found improved, post-imaging is performed to map out and quantify changes in the position of the atlas, occiput, axis and the cervical spine. If alignment (orthogonality) has been achieved, then the procedure is complete.

The above process may need to be repeated, refined and even co-managed with an allied specialist to achieve complete and stable alignment of the atlas/axis and related structures—including the bite. For when these structures are optimally placed, and stabilized, the entire body comes into greater functional harmony.

The neuro-musculo-skeletal systems are optimized and balanced.

The neuro-cardio-respiratory systems are also optimized.

These complex systems are the root systems of the body, and they are entirely enmeshed functionally and anatomically. The interrelated nature of these systems is well documented and vastly described in the medical literature. The AO procedure optimizes these complex, coordinated systems be re-establishing important functional space:

  • around the upper spinal cord and the brains stem,
  • by removing restrictions from venous drainage from the skull,
  • by removing potential restrictions of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to and from the skull
  • by removing potential restrictions in the vertebral arteries
  • and takes mechanical pressure of the supportive muscles of the head and neck

Indeed, we observe this with great regularity in the clinical setting, and when these elements are optimized, TMJ therapy is also optimized.

The conventional dental treatments for TMD can be quite expensive and time intensive, ranging in price from $5,000 to $50,000 and even upwards from there. They include, but are not limited to invasive surgeries, electrical stimulation, muscle retraining, altering tooth anatomy, tooth extractions, mandibular advancements, orthotics, medication for pain, etc.. Though each procedure may have it supporting arguments, I believe in the principle that “less can be more”—and that invasive procedures should be considered last, rather than first.

Regardless of the procedure, dental treatments for TMD, or any occlusion altering dental procedure should always involve (at a minimum) a consultation/examination from with a board certified Atlas Orthogonist, and preferably one who is aptly educated and experienced in dealing with malocclusion. I cannot over emphasize the importance of having a dependable scientific analysis of the alignment of the head, atlas and axis prior to TMD therapy by a Atlas Orthogonist or NUCCA doctor. This analysis should consist of at least a complete history, special physical examination, specialized x-rays or a CT scan called a CBCT, (cone-beam CT).

How will you dentist respond to the idea of atlas orthogonal therapy? It’s hard to say, but the idea of a properly aligned atlas is not new to the dental profession. Research was done by dental researchers in the 1940’s and has continued since, on the importance of the alignment of atlas and axis and it’s relationship to the jaw. I have posted a few of their original discoveries into the body of this article.  At the time their research began on the atlas, the Atlas Orthogonal group and the NUCCA group had not been formed. Had they co-existed, I believe the two would have fallen for each other—head-over-heels—or rather head-over-tooth. But that did not happen, and an acute awareness of the importance of atlas alignment in dental profession has languished for nearly a half-century. What’s more, very few Atlas Orthogonal doctors understand the intimate and sophisticated relationship that their patient’s occlusion (bite-posture) has on the status of the atlas. But that is a problem that I, and several of my esteemed dental colleagues are solving.

Over the last 18 months, we have begun to formalize the relationship and protocols between orthogonal based upper cervical chiropractors, dentists and orthodontists. Part of this process included the formation of the website www.spinalepigenetics.com which will provide a forum for patients who have questions pertaining to health issues related to atlas subluxation and malocclusion. Here, patients will be able to find answers and solutions, see and participate in moderated conversations between practitioners and patients, as well as locate certified providers who are qualified and proactively integrating procedures and technologies from the several essential disciplines who are actively participating in our multidisciplinary group efforts to understand, and effectively co-manage complex atlas subluxation and malocclusion related disorders, complexes and syndromes.

The reader should, by now, hopefully understand that our discussion of TMD, its diagnosis and subsequent treatment is oriented towards the perspective that TMD develops from deeper pathologies, such as the dual diagnoses of: Atlas Subluxation and Malocclusion.

A look at the earlier dental research: In a paper entitled Dental Distress Syndrome, Dr. A. C. Fonder, a great dental researcher describes the role of the Atlas and Axis (C1 and C2) in malocclusion and TMD, and lays the foundation for understanding the deeper problem which gives rise to malocclusion—which, of course, also provides a basis for understanding the pathology of TMD. Importantly, he also emphasizes the role that poor bite posture (malocclusion) plays in the misaligning forces of the Occiput, C1 and C2! (Here, we find a clue as to why some patients who have had their atlases realigned, have trouble keeping them in place!)

I am posting a few important excerpts from his research below because it will enhance the readers understanding of the dental perspective on the atlas and axis, and also should help enhance the chiropractic perspective on the importance of the jaw:

“Mandibular Malfunction”

“To better understand how the dental system can effect distant bodily alterations in disease and health processes, we must consider the 68 pairs of muscles above and below the mandible. Together these 136 muscles determine head, cervical, shoulder and jaw posturization during all of life’s functional processes. Our Dental Research Group of Chicago began studying the functional movements of the mandible during the 1940’s.”

“This research shed new light on mandibular and condylar movements.29 A student of physics and engineering, Casey Guzay, put our findings into a sophisticated series of drawings entitled, The Quadrant Theorem.  As determined, the muscle controlled pivotal axis of the mandible occurs at the dens between the atlas and axis vertebrae. Therefore, the mandibular dysfunction effects a disturbing posturing of C1 and C2. These vertebrae are intimately related to spinal and head posturing.”  [emphasis added]

“Posture”

The malposturing of C1 and C2, through the dental malocclusion and the resultant mandibular dysfunctioning, torques the dura mater because of the frontal and dorsal attachments to C1, C2 and C3.

[Authors Note: The dura mater is a neurological connective tissue that is intimate to most of the axial skeleton. It lines the inside of the skull cavity, surrounds the brain, anchors to the foreman magnum (big hole at bottom of skull) attaches to Atlas and Axis, lines the canal of the spine surouding the cord and all spinal nerve roots, extending down to the tip of the tailbone where it “blends” or fuses with the coccygeal periosteum”.]

 Dr. Fonder and his fellow researchers observed that:

 “torquing of the dura causes:

  1. 1.    scoliosis,
  2. 2.   cervical hypolordosis (military neck or reversed curve),
  3. 3.   thoracic hyperkyphosis (hump back),
  4. 4.   excessive lumbar lordosis (sway back),
  5. rotation of the pelvis causing uneven leg length,
  6. 6.   uneven shoulder height, etc.
  7. 7.   it also aids in creating head tilt through the dura’s attachment around the foramen magnum.
  8. The cranial bones, because of their multiple attachments to the dura can also be malpostured through this torquing stress of the dura mater.

When these 136 muscles are allowed to assume a more physiologically balanced relationship by the correcting of the malocclusion and improper vertical (free way space) the head immediately assumes an upright posture, the shoulders level off, the pelvic rotation ceases allowing the leg length to equalize, and overall bodily posture dramatically normalizes. These changes are instantaneous and can be reversed by altering the occlusal support.”

“Cervical Vertebrae”

“Why is the malposturing of C1 through C4 so critical?”

This mal-posturing appears to be one of the most important but most often overlooked aspects of the sequelae of mandibular dysfunction.

We gain a better understanding of the complex interaction between the dental occlusion, TMJ kinematics, and cervical function with an overview of the structures involved.

OVERVIEW: [Note to the reader: these parts are are a bit technical—but extremely powerful… skip them if it gives you a headache, but it may be useful for some readers, so I’m keeping them in the excerpt]

  1. a.   Rene Cailliet, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Director at U.S.C. states:

“It’s an axiom … that the body follows the head … You can realign your entire body by moving your head … your head held in a forward position can pull your entire body out of line. He goes on to explain that the vital lung capacity is reduced as much as 30%. The gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. When a hunched position is assumed, the body becomes rigid, and range of motion is affected. Since endorphin production is reduced, an increase in pain and discomfort results.”

  1. b.   Kapandji, in his classic text on spinal function states:

“The anterior muscles of the neck … act as the long arm of a lever … they are powerful flexors of the head and cervical column … flattening the cervical column.”

  1. c.    Numerous investigators describe the effect of altered mandibular position on cranial posture:

“Forward and lateral head position changes the mandible, hyoid bone, and tongue. It compresses the upper cervical facet joints causing muscular nerve entrapments. Nerve root compression or posterior vertebral facet irritation or restriction result in peripheral entrapment neuropathies. One common entrapment is the greater or lesser suboccipital nerves” that pass between the occiput and atlas. This may cause headaches or refer pain to the facial region.

  1. d.   Concentrating on the cervical apophyseal joints, we observe the role of the mechanoreceptors that dominate the vestibular system in relation to the reflex regulation of static posture and gait.

If you place a cervical collar, it may cause the patient to stagger or lose positive control of the extremeties. The density of mechanoreceptors in the human are greater in the cervical apophyseal joints than in other levels of the vertebral column. Cervical abnormal functions in aged people produce subjective and objective disturbances of posture and gait, known as senile dysequilibrium.

  1. e.    The cervical mechanoreceptors also have a potent effect on eye control, speech, and manual dexterity.

Minutes after physiologically balanced molar support is provided at the proper vertical the head, shoulder, spine, and pelvic posturization begins normalization. The blood flow to the head, hands, and feet doubles and even quadruples when measured volumetrically as well as thermally and colorimetrically. Chronic scalp and leg sores of many years duration that have not responded to conventional medical care heal in a matter of a couple of weeks (improved blood supply). Psoriasis, asthma, constipation, PMS, and numerous etiology unknowns normalize quite routinely, if the disease(s) have not progressed beyond the point of no return.

 

This research has been replicated by the Russian, Japanese, German, Canadian, American and other individual medical and dental scientists, dental groups and medico-dental research teams. The Japanese medico-dental research team of fifteen specialists treated over 6,000 patients who had not responded to conventional medical care. (Dr. Maehara, the group leader, says that his success rate is 90% when proper dental support is provided.) These cases included Parkinson, epilepsy and all of the above.

The Chapman Clinic for Spinal Epigenetics takes a structural approach to the functional neurology of the human spine.

We use the Atlas Orthogonal method to restore the proper orthogonal alignment of the spine, and by doing so, we are able to achieve positive changes neurologically.

We have developed co-managing protocols along side with epigenetic dentists who are certified in a specific type of dental appliance called the DNA appliance to correct the problems of complex malocclusion, TMD and atlas subluxation. With this multidisciplinary approach, our outcomes have improved over solo-care. We are currently conducting clinical trials to demonstrate this.

To Summarize: TMJ disorders should be assessed in the context of the entire head and neck region, and therefore may be viewed clinically as “a side-effect of a structural dysfunction stemming from the head and neck bite mislalignment”. In essence, TMD can often be addressed effectively by addressing underlying imbalances and pathologies.

  • It is important to understand that TMD treatments utilizing corrective orthogonal protocols as a core corrective procedure have been highly successful, but are not 100% effective, 100% of the time.
  • If you are dealing with a TMJ issue or jaw pain presently, and whether you are working with a dentist or not, I advise you to come in, or call for an examination/consultation. I continue to lecture and present Atlas Orthogonal procedures to epigenetic dentists, and more are learning and incorporating our procedures into their occlusion therapies. I, along with Dr. David Singh are continuing our efforts to develop multidiscplinary

If your dentist, or upper cervical chiropractor is not knowlegable on the important subject of the shared complexities of malocclusion and the upper cervical spine, please encourage them to attend our seminar. Not all dental specialist are oriented towards combining their therapy with orthogonal based upper cervical chiropractors—but the numbers are growing.

Telephone consultations are available.

Doctor Christopher Chapman is a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, and is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician and practices the Atlas Orthogonal and NUCCA procedure. He is Board Certified in the Atlas Orthogonal (AO) procedure. He is the Clinic Director for the Chapman Clinic for Spinal Epigenetics. He is adjunct faculty at Palmer College of Chiropractic. He lectures nationally, instructing and mentoring dentists and chiropractors on the clinical application and integration of AO procedures in dental practice, and instructs AO chiropractors on the importance of occlusion. His Provo clinic, the Chapman Clinic for Spinal Epigeneitcs (formerly NUCCA Spinal Centers) is a registered internship facility with Brigham Young University. Candidates for this Internship program have gone on to study chiropractic, eventually specializing in orthogonal based upper cervical procedures such as the AO (Atlas Orthogonal) and the NUCCA technique. Currently Dr. Chapman is writing a book describing the essential role that posture plays in human health.

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