Atlas Orthogonal

misaligned atlas Atlas Chiropractic Asheville NC

What is Atlas Chiropractic?

First, let’s define the atlas vertebrae. This is the top most vertebrae of the upper cervical spine (at the base of the skull) and it can cause misalignment throughout the spine if it’s not aligned correctly. Adjusting the atlas can restore alignment to the head, neck, spine and hips and in turn, restore body balance and help to reactivate the body’s natural healing abilities. Additionally, with the atlas being right at the brain stem, an upper cervical chiropractor can help with atlas misalignment and improve communication between the brain and body.

Atlas Orthogonal chiropractic benefits include:

  • Proper mechanical and spinal balance; and
  • Improved brain health and function

These benefits are achieved by correcting nerve impulse impairment, spinal fluid flow and blood supply to the brain.

Atlas Orthogonal is an advanced chiropractic specialty practiced by only a few upper cervical chiropractors. In fact, Dr. David Nygaard is the only Atlas Orthogonist in western North Carolina. Other Upper Cervical techniques practiced include, Blair, NUCCA, Orthospinology and Advanced Orthogonal.

Atlas Orthogonal is an advanced chiropractic specialty practiced by only a few upper cervical chiropractors. In fact, Dr. David Nygaard is the only Atlas Orthogonist in western North Carolina. Other Upper Cervical techniques practiced include, Blair, NUCCA, Orthospinology and Advanced Orthogonal.



How Does Atlas Misalignment Happen?

A normal Atlas is aligned squarely with the spine and skull. A misaligned or subluxated Atlas is not square. The atlas may be misaligned from birth or it can become misaligned due to minor slips or falls, sports injuries, and whiplash or other traumatic injuries.

What happens when the Atlas is misaligned?

Some of the most common effects of a misaligned atlas include decreased curves in the neck, scoliosis, and changes in the alignment in the shoulders and pelvis. These changes can negatively impact the skeletal system and nervous system and can cause nerve pressure and inflammation. Some of the most common problems resulting from an Atlas misalignment include headaches, neck, and facial pain.

Many people who suffered a head injury or a chronic condition are forced to endure secondary indignities as a result of their original condition – this could be anything from feeling anxiety over lost wages for days missed at work, to the fatigue and confusion that results from painrelated sleep deprivation, to depression that is attendant to the loss of the quality of life that the individual once knew.

Beyond structural misalignment and whole body distortion and imbalance, it’s crucial to understand the importance of the brain stem, which is present at the Atlas level.  The brain controls higher functions within the body such as consciousness, mood, behavior, knowledge, judgment, calculation, language, speech, memory, emotion and voluntary movement. The brain stem is the communication link and controls and coordinates all information from the brain to the spinal cord. Every cell, tissue, organ, and system of the body is controlled and coordinated by the brain stem. The spinal cord is much like a bundle of phone cables going back and forth telling the body what to do. When there’s a communication breakdown, adverse affects happen. They include:

  • Measureable stress on the brainstem and surrounding soft tissue
  • Impaired nerve signals
  • Diminished blood supply to the brain
  • Stretching of the spinal cord
  • Impairment of cerebrospinal fluid flow, which is crucial to proper brain function
  • Compression or irritation of spinal nerves
  • Mechanical stress on bones, joints, and discs
  • Ligament damage or laxity

How Can Atlas Orthogonal Treatment Help?

Dr. David Nygaard is the only practitioner who provides Atlas Orthogonal chiropractic care in western North Carolina.  The adjustment instrument he uses is safe, gentle and precise and includes no popping, cracking or twisting of spinal vertebrae. While powerful drugs or surgeries might provide relief in the short term, they also can carry considerable risk, ranging from addiction to paralysis. Atlas Orthogonal treatment can provide a safe alternative. And, when the procedure is performed properly, an Atlas orthogonist can help to alleviate pain and restore body function without surgery or drugs.

Many conditions can be relieved through Atlas Orthogonal treatment. For example:

  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Seizure disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Disequilibrium
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo and Dizziness
  • Closed head injury
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Post whiplash syndrome
  • Arnold Chiari
Dr. David Nygaard Atlas Chiropractic Asheville NC
Atlas Orthogonal Atlas Chiropractic Asheville NC

The Atlas Orthogonal Adjustment


The actual adjustment is performed by an Atlas Orthogonal Percussion Adjusting instrument.  The instrument works by percussion – a sound wave – and the head and neck are gently restored to their normal (90 degree)/Orthogonal position.  In the adjusting head of the instrument, there is a solenoid that strikes a stylus.  The stylus does not move, but allows for percussion to be transmitted through the tip.  The tip is placed over the side of the first vertebra (the atlas) and the percussive force moves the vertebra in the desired direction, based on the vectors as established by Dr. Nygaard from the x-ray views.

The procedure is extremely subtle.  Oftentimes, the patient does not even feel the adjustment. In recent studies, the program has often demonstrated immediate and profound changes to the flow of spinal fluid and blood supply to the brain.  This has been proven through the use of highly advanced imaging studies.

The Atlas

supports the entire weight of the head (9 to 14 lbs),
even though the Atlas itself weighs only 2 ounces.

The atlas area has no discs and no bony locks to stop motion at its end range. It is a fully lubricated joint, made for motion.  It is held in place by a series of small intricate muscles and ligaments that are not designed to endure the amount of trauma we accumulate in our life.

It is primarily designed for motion, and when traumatized or injured, becomes vulnerable.

One of its primary purposes is to protect the delicate nature of the nervous system.

  • THE VERTEBRAL ARTERIES, pass through openings in the atlas.  They supply the majority of the blood supply and oxygen to the brain.
  • CEREBRO-SPINAL FLUID, proper spinal fluid flow is essential to optimal function of the central nervous system.
cervical spine Atlas Chiropractic Asheville NC

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Contact us today to learn about Atlas Chiropractic of Asheville and the many conditions we treat. 828-253-0700