Using the Atlas Orthogonal Percussion Adjusting Instrument with my patients, I get this a lot on the day of the first treatment. When people think of going to a chiropractor, they imagine getting twisted and bent every which way to a symphony of pops, snaps, and cracks. See: Kramer “Adjusts” Elaine They expect it to hurt. They expect it to feel “weird.” They expect SOMETHING. However, getting your Atlas adjusted in our office is a very non-invasive procedure. Our patients hardly feel it. Some say they feel nothing at all. How is this possible? Why is it done this way?
When Dr. Roy Sweat developed the Atlas Orthogonal technique, he was already an instructor for a well-respected Atlas-specific chiropractic technique known as the Grostic method. What Dr. Sweat found while teaching doctors was that, regardless of training and practice, most doctors adjusted patients slightly differently. The speed, strength, and precision of each doctor varied, so the adjustments varied, as well.
Dr. Sweat knew that chiropractic was well on its way to becoming an increasingly viable health care profession. However, if this great profession was to continue to move forward, he knew it would have to hold up to the greatest scientific scrutiny. Dr. Sweat knew that if anything was to be scientifically valid, it had to be REPEATABLE, meaning that an Atlas adjustment should be the same, regardless of who was actually physically giving the adjustment. The doctor would render the diagnosis and decide when and how to treat the patient, but the actual force applied to the spine would be delivered by a precise instrument rather than the doctor’s hands.
So how does such a little force make such a huge impact on our health? The answer here is simple. Moving a two ounce bone a few millimeters does not require a large amount of force, if done properly. Suppose you need to drive a nail into a piece of drywall. You could use a sledgehammer and take a blind whack at it. Or you could use a very light hammer and strike the nail precisely with a lot of speed. An Atlas Orthogonal adjustment is very fast and very precise, so the only bone that moves is the Atlas. With some chiropractic techniques, it feels like the doctor moves the whole neck and multiple bones “crack,”which always begs the question, “Which one actually moved?” Specialized x-rays of the Atlas allow us to determine the precise angle and direction needed to adjust the Atlas, substituting brute force with specificity.
Another great benefit is that the adjustment is done with the patient in a neutral, side lying position. No rotation of the neck is required. This allows the patient to relax instead of fighting the adjustment with muscle contraction. Many patients tell me they could not tolerate a traditional chiropractic adjustment to the neck because they just “couldn’t relax.” This is not an issue with an Atlas Orthogonal adjustment.
The greatest part of my job is the post check I perform after a successful first adjustment. Patients will often say “I didn’t feel anything” while the actual adjustment took place. However, the tissues of the upper neck will become less tender to the touch and the muscles will relax. Neck range of motion will also improve significantly. The patient will look at me in suspended disbelief and say “What did you do to me? I can’t believe it.” They did not feel the adjustment, per se, but they DO feel the changes that have taken place as a result. They have taken their first baby steps towards better nervous system function and better health. The trick is to keep it that way, a topic I will cover later.
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