For a while now, I’ve been hearing and reading some information on AtlasPROfilax, and now to a lesser extent ATLANTOtec. AtlasPROfilax, which began in 1993, and its apparent rip-off ATLANTOtec, which started in 2006, are groups of people who use a short muscle massage technique to “adjust” the atlas (C1) vetebra. They claim that this treatment is permanent, and that after one “adjustment” you will never need another one. Many of these individuals who use these techniques also claim that any and all your health problems will be cured, never to return.
There are a number of problems with these groups, but number one is that they aren’t chiropractors. They are lay people without proper training. And believe me, when dealing with the upper cervical spine, proper training is paramount, otherwise you could very easily make someone’s life a lot worse. I’ve seen and felt what can happen when you adjust someone’s upper cervical spine on the wrong side, and it’s not fun. But that’s why there is TRAINING. And a lot of it. There are also reasons some martial arts target vital points in the upper cervical spine to incapacitate or even kill an opponent… something to think about.
The second problem is that these people are not very well researched. For example, from the AtlasPROfilax website (this was apparently translated from Swiss):
“The Atlas does not only carry the head, it also promotes – if in an optimum position – the untroubled unfolding of self-healing powers and thereby the physical and mental balance, as well as the integrated recovery of human beings.
In Sierre/Sidders in Valais (Switzerland), René-Claudius Schümperli discovered already in 1993 for the first time worldwide that the first cervical vertebra (Atlas) is more or less wrong rotated in almost every human being.”
Schümperli failed to learn that Dr. A.A. Wernsing, a chiropractor, was the first one to put together a specific method for eliminating the upper cervical subluxation back in the 1920s, and presented his ideas to B.J. Palmer in 1933. B.J. Palmer liked it so much, that he changed much of Volume XVIII to include Wernsing’s work and ideas.
Next, let’s look at a statement made on the ATLANTOtec website, also from Europe:
“Where the Atlas vertebra is involved, a chiropractic manipulation is not usually helpful; aside from the fact that the results are not permanent, this can produce undesirable side effects or even aggravate the symptoms, as various patients have reported after a series of manipulations.
In attempting to explain the problem more clearly, we must begin with anatomy. The Atlas is composed of its upper surface together with the atlanto-occipital joint at the base of the cranium and its lower surface together with the Axis, the Atlas-Axis joint. The latter allows a rotation of the head of around 40°. In contrast, the atlanto-occipital joint is responsible for the nodding movement of the head (flexion-extension) up to a maximum of 20°. The problem is as follows: we are looking to correct a rotary incorrect Atlas position from 3° to 8° in relation to the cranium, but the Atlas-Axis joint allows a rotation of a good 40°.
What happens if I turn the head with jerky movement, such as in a chiropractic manipulation? If I turn the entire atlanto-occipital joint in an uncontrolled manner, the atlanto-occipital joint therefore absorbs practically all the rotation movement, because that’s what it’s there for! The 3° to 8° incorrect Atlas position remains where it is, because the Atlas is securely linked to the base of the cranium, which allows no rotational movement under normal conditions, with the exception only of a flexion-extension movement. The result is that, irrespective of the risk that this manipulation could cause structural damage, it will yield no practical result.”
These people are completely disingenuous when they talk about chiropractic. Yes, there are chiropractors out there who do the general non-specific rotary break cervical manipulations, of which I’m not a fan, but that doesn’t include ALL chiropractors. Many chiropractors use very gentle methods to correct an upper cervical subluxation, of which specific upper cervical chiropractic techniques are the best at. Upper cervical chiropractic is not a jerky movement and is even more specific and more effective than these two particular methods could ever hope to be.
As an Upper Cervical Chiropractor, I think I speak for all of us when I say these two groups are amateur at best. Having a lay person with minimal experience working on my upper cervical region claiming to cure everything under the sun doesn’t give me much comfort (remember, chiropractic isn’t a cure or treatment for ANYTHING.). When they lie about recently discovering a secret that has actually been around for about 80 years, that doesn’t help either.
To get a more accurate assessment and comparison between AtlasPROfilax, ATLANTOtec and Upper Cervical Chiropractic, check out this website.