NUCCA Care in Tulsa: The Atlas Subluxation Complex
The main role of the NUCCA doctor in Tulsa is to evaluate for and correct the Atlas Subluxation Complex. (ASC)
First, let’s take care of some terminology.
Atlas: the uppermost vertebra in the neck; also called C1. This 2 oz. bone surrounds the brain stem and supports the 12-16 pound skull. It is the only freely movable bone in the spine, which means it can misalign with very little force.
Subluxation: When a vertebrae becomes misaligned or moves out of its normal position, this is referred to in the chiropractic profession as a subluxation. Subluxations can be caused by a wide range of issues ranging from a minor slip or bump to a car accident or any sudden trauma. When a vertebrae is subluxated, it begins to put pressure on nerves, blood vessels and everything around it. This pressure comes with a price. The subluxation interrupts the natural pathways that the messages sent from the brain need to be clear in order to be completed properly.
As time goes by and a subluxation remains untreated, the spine and surrounding features such as discs can begin to degenerate. This degeneration becomes more difficult to reverse as time goes by as the surrounding muscles, nerves and bones begin to adjust to the new shape. The body is an amazing machine. It will start to accommodate these changes by compensating in other areas. The longer this goes on, the more difficult it is and the longer it takes to get back to near perfect position
Complex: a group or system of different things that are linked in a close or complicated way; in this case, the physical changes seen in the body when an atlas subluxation occurs.
Accidents and injuries can tear loose the supporting muscles and ligaments that hold the atlas vertebra in its correct anatomical position. When this happens, nerve flow is disrupted at the level of the brain stem, the highest control center over body balance.
The muscles along the sides of the spine are directly controlled by nerves from the brain stem. Given that C1, (the atlas) is freely movable, it takes very little force to misalign and put pressure on the brain stem. When an atlas subluxation occurs, it impinges on these critical nerves and affects, among other functions, the nerve flow to the muscles running along one side of the spine, causing them to tighten. This causes the head to tilt and entire spine to shift and twist, as it works to keep us upright against the force of gravity. As the muscles along one side of the spine tighten, one hip is pulled up, thus causing one leg to appear shorter than the other. This causes the body to lean and the spine to “lock up” to further compensate and keep us from falling over.
The nerves in our spinal column are very sensitive to pressure and stress. When the spine becomes sufficiently misaligned and imbalanced, it stresses the nerves, compromises their normal impulses and changes function throughout the body. Any and all body systems can be compromised.
Structurally, the ASC leads to the following physical changes:
- head tilt
- tightening of the muscles along one side of the spine,
- and leaning of the upper body,
- unlevel shoulders and hips,
- a “short” leg
- unequal weight distribution
Neurologically, nerve flow is compromised at the brain stem–the gateway for all nerve impulses between the brain and the body–and along the entire spinal column. This affects how nerve information moves between the brain and the body.
Physically, the body is unable to self-regulate and self-heal optimally. This can cause or contribute to any number of symptoms, illnesses, conditions or diseases.
Put this all together–atlas misalignment, causing neurological compromise, leading to postural imbalance, and ultimately causing or contributing to diminished body function, dis-ease (imbalance) within the body, and symptoms which may lead to chronic illness. This is the Atlas Subluxation Complex.
And most people have unknowingly gone undiagnosed for years.
The Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC) most frequently occurs with an initial accident or injury. More often than not, many injuries have occurred over time and lifestyle factors have compounded the damage. Examples of common injuries which can cause the ASC include:
- a long, stressful labor
- a difficult birth; use of forceps or suction
- a cesarean birth
- childhood falls, bumps, bruises
- placing the head and neck in extreme positions
- sports injuries
- bike accidents
- motor vehicle accidents
- a thousand other events too numerous to list
Lifestyle factors that contribute to and worsen subluxation damage include:
- poor eating habits
- too little activity
- overuse of drugs, whether over the counter, prescribed, or illegal
- overuse of chemicals – nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, cleaning agents, etc.
- physical and/or mental stress
The accidents and injuries that we all experience can damage the muscles and ligaments that hold the uppermost vertebra (the atlas) in place. The atlas shifts out of place ever so slightly and presses upon, stretches, or otherwise impinges on the nerves of the brain stem. This causes interference in the nerve flow between the brain and body and most commonly affects the muscles along the spine, typically tightening the muscles along one side. This muscle tightening pulls one hip up higher than the other, which pulls the leg up also and causes what appears to be a short leg. To compensate for the muscle tightening, the entire spine shifts or twists out of place in order to try and stabilize and remain upright against the force of gravity. This imbalance leads to structural degeneration–arthritis, bone spurs, pinched nerves, bulging discs.
In 1981, Dr. Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in Medicine when he discovered that 90% of the brain’s activity is used to balance our body within the gravitational field of the earth. He found that if our body is mechanically distorted (off-balance) it begins to affect the 10% of the brain’s activity that controls all other body functions, such as breathing, circulation, digestion, hormone production, etc.
A vertebra that impinges upon or otherwise engages upon a nerve is called a Subluxation. Neurologically, a subluxated vertebra interferes with the electro-chemical information that flows along that nerve. When nerve flow is compromised from the brain in some way, the function of the tissue, gland, muscle or organ that was to receive that nerve information is altered or diminished. Likewise, nerve flow from that tissue, gland, muscle, or organ back to the brain is also altered. Imagine if a nerve that goes to the heart is only receiving 70% of the brain’s message. Would that heart work properly.
In 1921, Dr. H. Windsor of the University of Pennsylvania dissected a total of 75 human cadavers and 72 cat cadavers to determine if there was a relationship between the shape of the spine (alignment) and the health of the internal organs (presence or absence of disease). His results revealed a nearly 100% correlation between “minor curvatures” of the spine and diseases of the internal organs. Let’s examine some of these disease categories*:
All 20 cases with heart and pericardium conditions had the upper five thoracic vertebrae misaligned (T1-5).
All 26 cases of lung disease had spinal misalignments in the upper thoracic area.
All nine cases of spinal misalignment in the mid-thoracic (T5-9) area had stomach disease.
All 13 cases of liver disease had misalignments in the mid-thoracic area (T5-9).
Gall Bladder Disease
All five cases with gallstone disease had spinal misalignments in the mid-thoracic area (T5-9).
All three cases with pancreas disease had spinal misalignments in the mid-thoracic area (T5-9).
All 11 cases with spleen disease had spinal misalignments in the mid-thoracic area (T5-9).
All 17 cases with kidney disease were out of alignment in the lower thoracic area (T10-12).
Prostate and Bladder Disease
All eight cases with prostate and bladder disease had the lumbar vertebrae misaligned (L1-3).
The two cases with uterine conditions had the second lumbar vertebra misaligned.
Dr. Winsor’s results were published in The Medical Times. Other researchers have confirmed his discovery. Today’s medical literature frequently contains research which proves Chiropractic’s theory and effectiveness.
In 2007, A Chicago-area study of 50 individuals with a misaligned Atlas vertebra and high blood pressure showed that after a specialized chiropractic adjustment [a NUCCA Correction], blood pressure decreased significantly. The decrease was equal to taking two blood-pressure drugs at once. The results are published in the online March 2 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension.**
The take home message is that the structure of the body directly affects the function of the body. And the everyday minor and significant stresses and injuries we experience are enough to compromise the health and well-being of our body. When the spine is imbalanced and the nervous system is compromised, body systems do not work properly. Ultimately, this causes or contributes to symptoms, poor health, and illness.
2:00pm - 3:00pm
* Excludes 2nd Tuesday every month
9:30am - 6:30pm
2:00pm - 5:30pm
9:30am - 11:30am