The average person is born with 33 individual bones or vertebrae in their spine. These vertebrae interact and connect with each other through flexible joints called facets. By adulthood, some of the vertebrae at the bottom end of the spine will be fused together during normal growth and development leaving approximately 24 vertebrae. The neck portion of the spine is made up of 7 of these vertebrae. The top bone, named after the Greek God Atlas, (C1) is where the head attaches to the neck. The second bone (C2) is called the axis, upon which the head and atlas rotate. From there, the vertebrae are numbered C3 through C7. So, with a total of 206 bones in the body, why is the Atlas the most vulnerable bone in your body?
Why is the Atlas the Most Vulnerable Bone in Your Body?
As we said above, the Atlas bone was named after the Greek God Atlas whom Zeus condemned to carry the world on his shoulders. You’ll find that this is an apt name when you consider that the average human head weighs between 8-12 lbs, and the function of the Atlas bone is to carry the weight of your world, your head, on your shoulders.
The reason it’s the most vulnerable bone in your body is because of its unique anatomy. Unlike the other vertebrae in the spine, the Atlas bone is not connected to a disk; only a few ligaments hold it in place. This feature allows your head and neck flexibility and a full range of motion. However, since it’s not fused to any disks, it’s the bone that is the most vulnerable to misalignment in the spine. Accidents, injuries, and the stress of daily living can cause this bone to be knocked out of place. We call this a vertebral misalignment or subluxation.
What Happens When the Atlas is Misaligned?
If the atlas shifts out of place even to the slightest degree it can press upon, stretch, or otherwise impinge on the nerves of the brain stem. This can cause interference in the nerve flow between the brain and body resulting in an array of different ailments including:
A misaligned Atlas or subluxation can result in chronic pain throughout the neck, back, lower back, and hips as well as other areas of the body.
Furthermore, this type of misalignment typically tightens the muscles along only one side of the body. When this happens, a cascade effect is created. The muscle tightening pulls one hip up higher than the other, which pulls the leg up higher on one side. To compensate, the entire spine shifts or twists out of place in order to try and stabilize your core and remain upright against the force of gravity. This can lead to a body imbalance as well as structural degeneration and other painful conditions such as:
- Bone spurs
- Bulging discs
A misalignment of the Atlas can cause undue pressure to be placed on the nerves. This pressure can cause conditions such as:
- Numbness in the arms, legs, or feet
Disruption of the Central Nervous System
The brain and spinal cord make up the Central Nervous System, the most important system of the body. Your body relies on the spinal cord to relay messages from the brain to every organ in your body. A spinal misalignment can interfere with the proper functioning of the Central Nervous System. When this happens, information traveling through the nervous system can be obstructed. This could cause many potential problems over time, resulting in conditions such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- High blood pressure
- Dizziness & Vertigo
How to Care for Your Atlas
Upper cervical chiropractic is a highly specialized branch of chiropractic care that focuses on the top two vertebrae of the neck, the Atlas and the Axis. Using gentle, non-invasive techniques and specialized imagery, doctors Tim and Danielle of Atlas Specific Upper Cervical Care can help you to maintain the correct positioning of your Atlas and help you to heal your body from within. Click the button below now to schedule your free consultation and start your journey to wellness today!
Notice of Disclaimer:
We are doctors of upper cervical chiropractic, but we are NOT necessarily YOUR doctors. All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and reading or interacting with this site does not establish any form of patient-doctor relationship. Although we strive to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for any kind of professional advice and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in your particular area of need before making medical decisions.