Atlas MID

AltasPROfilax® method for professionals

Information on Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas

Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas

It is known as Minor Intervertebral Derangement to the physiopathological state of some segment of the spine and consists of a mechanics affected by errors in the administration of ATP, which can lead to functional disorders and errors in the output of the action potentials of motor and pre-motor areas of the cerebral cortex. 

The first Minor Intervertebral Derangement that the human being suffers is usually at the level of the Atlas and the Axis thanks to the process of childbirth, moment in which the occipital condyles are undergoing a process of ossification and do not have enough strength to retain their position on the articular facets of the Atlas in cases of hyperextension of the head.

The misalignment of the Atlas in relation to the occipital condyle and the Axis particularly alters the center of gravity of the skull. This leads to overloading of the muscle insertions in the neck, which not only manifests itself as pain, but also significantly affects the posture, resulting in a permanent forward position of the head and anteriorization of the shoulders.

The irregular fit of the occipital condyle in the glenoid cavity of the Atlas can have mild to devastating consequences as the hydraulic force of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is affected. In addition, it increases the tendency to occipital and temporal bones tension that in children, is usually registered as headache and learning difficulties.

Due to the longitudinal fascia, the muscle chains are pulled downwards along the body. The plastic deformation of the fascia leads to possible irregularities in the stomatognathic apparatus, which induce a change in the cephalopodal axis and therefore modify the loads to which the intervertebral discs are subjected, especially those of the lumbar segment.

The irregular fit of the occipital condyle in the glenoid cavity of the Atlas can have mild to devastating consequences as the hydraulic force of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is affected. In addition, it increases the tendency to occipital and temporal bones tension that in children, is usually registered as headache and learning difficulties.

Due to the longitudinal fascia, the muscle chains are pulled downwards along the body. The plastic deformation of the fascia leads to possible irregularities in the stomatognathic apparatus, which induce a change in the cephalopodal axis and therefore modify the loads to which the intervertebral discs are subjected, especially those of the lumbar segment.

Characteristics of the Atlas MID

  • At the dorsal-lumbar level, the most frequent mechanical causes of Minor Intervertebral Derangement include bad posture, bad distribution of loads when lifting weights, injuries resulting from falls or accidents, bad execution of physical efforts, static problems, etc. However, Atlas Minor Intervertebral Derangement is mainly due to obstetric or mechanical injuries throughout life (in sports, car accidents, falls from one's height, etc.).
  • Generally, Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the dorsal, lumbar and sacrum areas has visceral causes. Among these, the most frequent are all those in which an irritated organ or viscera promotes vertebral irritation, e.g., descent of the bladder, megacolon or fatty liver. Regarding the Atlas, the only evidence that has been found in this regard is at the level of the bulb-medullary junction, which affectation favors or aggravates the already existing Minor Intervertebral Derangement.
  • The most relevant factual characteristic of a Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas is the Upper Crossed Syndrome, which consists of a deep imbalance between the anterior and posterior muscles of the upper back, which radiates to the cervicals, shoulders and thorax. This leads to shortening of the trapezium and sternocleidomastoid, elevation of the scapula as well as inhibition of the teres major and minor, serratus major and rhomboid as well as supraspinatus and infraspinatus.
  • The Upper Crossed Syndrome is usually expressed by the hyperextension of the Occipital, Atlas and Axis bones, resulting in anteriorization of the head, which weakens the flexor muscles of the neck and over-tones the suboccipital muscles (hypertonus). Tension prevails between the lower cervical segment and T4. Scapular rotation and abduction is triggered by hypertonus of the upper shoulder fixators and inhibition of the internal fixators. All this reduces the ability to breathe.
  • The discomfort (signs and symptoms) of Minor Intervertebral Derangement is not necessarily permanent. They often manifest as silent (post-exertion), deaf (soft-continuous), speakers (aggravated) or episodic (fluctuating vs. exertion). The level of physical, energetic and emotional discomfort that a person with Minor Atlas Intervertebral Derangement may experience is directly proportional to the level of Cranio-Caudal Deviation of the Atlas and the personal pain threshold.
  • The greater the compression of the occipital condyle between the Atlas facets, the greater the variation in CSF pulses and the body's longitudinal fascial mechanism. On the other hand, the greater the Cranio-Caudal Deviation of the Atlas, the greater the irritation on the spinothalamic and spinocerebellar tracts, which results in a strong disturbance of the pain pathways. Finally, effects on CRF (Corticotropin Releasing Factor) levels influence the hypersensitivity of the pain pathways.
  • Atlas MID promotes hypertonus of suboccipital muscles and fatigue of ligaments such as the alar, cruciform and posterior cervical. If this situation is not reversed in time, the altered proprioception will affect the corrective capacity of the cervical musculature and thus, the structures that will be affected will be the muscular spindles, the neuromuscular junctions and the tendon organ of Golgi. In response to this, the body will present distorted myothetic reflexes that will result in bands of cellulalgia and fibrosis.
  • Feedback between the suboccipital muscles and the Atlas is responsible for the persistence of the Atlas MID as inconsistent feedback from these muscles produces hypertonus, oxygen depletion to tissue, hyperstimulated nociception, inflammation and/or chronic local irritation. This persistence due to feedback is known as "Reactive Syndrome". This syndrome compensatorily modifies the lower cervical segment as well as the distal structures making it a global problem.
  • The Reactive Syndrome consists of the brain's distorted emission to the soft tissues, which increases the immune response to inflammation by macrophages and stimulates the proliferation of fibroblasts, which increase the number of cross-links in the fascias, thus producing their shortening. This is the main reason why the AtlasPROfilax® method works on the suboccipital muscles to break the distorted feedback that keeps the Atlas vertebra at a bad angle of rotation.
  • Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas often results in painful myofascial points. This is explained by the hyperreactivity of the brain and brain stem that moves into the soft tissues (muscles, fascia, ligaments) and thus triggers the distant myofascial pain triggers, known as Trigger Points. It is common to trigger headache, dizziness, eye or jaw pain when checking the suboccipital muscles, which simply verifies the defensive state they are in.
  • The repercussions of the Reactive Syndrome also influence the economy of the organism. Hypertonus, excessive muscle activity (cervical, pectoral, diaphragm, abdominal and pelvic muscles) and immune overstimulation to the connective tissue are factors that lead to general body fatigue, increase the brain frequency above 15 Hz and therefore block the individual's restful sleep and analytical capacity. In the long term, this can be very disruptive to the quality of life.

Causes of the Atlas MID

  • Dystocia.
  • Instrumentation in vaginal delivery.
  • Braking or acceleration in the phase of introduction of the fetus in normal delivery in Left Iliac Occiput Anterior.
  • Excessive support of the maternal pubis in the expulsion phase of the fetus in normal delivery in Left Iliac Occiput Anterior.
  • Prolonged descent in the rotational phase of normal delivery in Right Iliac Occiput Posterior.
  • Hyperextension of the fetus' head during the recess phase in normal delivery in Mento-Anterior
  • Poor head and neck manipulation in the neonate.
  • Violent transmission of kinetic energy to the skull.
  • Surprise reception of impacts or blows to the skull.
  • Trauma at maxillary or occipital level during sport practice.
  • Fascial transmission of lumbosacral impacts.
  • Acceleration-deceleration or hyperextension-hyperflexion of the neck.
  • Deceleration syndrome with cervical sprain.
  • Hysteresis.


Consequences of the Atlas MID

As the anchorage between the occipital bone and the atlas is slightly unstructured and compressed, this condition basically has repercussions on three levels. They are:

Incidents at the mechanical level of the Atlas MID:

The distribution of weight should be ideal from the head to the other vertebrae and the rest of the skeleton, but in fact, when the Atlas presents a DIM, it disturbs this mechanical balance and causes the shoulders to be tilted to one side or forward, the hip to swing and one leg to be shorter than the other, i.e. a short functional leg.

This bad posture would have no negative effects on the body if it weren't for the fact that it often persists and gets worse with age and bad habits. This mechanical imbalance affects the main joints of the body and can induce painful disorders in muscles in different areas (neck, shoulders, arms, back, waist, hips, knees and legs).

If there is a MID with Condylar Compression Syndrome, the Atlas pulls the muscles and fascias (muscle envelopes) in the neck region. This results in excessive stiffness of the muscles, especially the trapeziums, which will radiate pain to the head and shoulders.

Impact of minor Atlas misalignment on the neurological level

The foramen in the skull is the transition point between the dura mater (superficial meninx) of the skull and the spinal cord. Studies have shown that two of the short muscles at the back of the neck (in contact with the Atlas) have a special connection between them and the dura mater, so that the fascias can transmit their tensions internally and externally.

The Atlas MID can transfer its harmful effects to this muscle-dura mater connection, leading to painful syndromes such as fibromyalgia, e.g. Also, permanent tension of the cervical (neck) muscles and fascias can induce pain-related nerve signal disorders, making it difficult to perform simple tasks.

The hyperactivity in pain signals as well as the internal drag that may be generated in the dura mater - as a consequence of the minor malpositioning of the Atlas - could explain the fact that each individual experiences differently the compensations and tensions that this condition produces in his or her body. Some will have pain and stiffness, others will not.

Impact of minor Atlas misalignment at the vascular level

Thirty percent of the oxygenated blood supply to the brain is provided by the vertebral arteries that travel through the neck to the Atlas and from there to the transmission center from the marrow to the brain (brain stem) where they branch out and form the basilar artery. From there, they travel to the cerebral hemispheres and the movement coordination center (cerebellum).

Atlas MID may be a trigger for basilar artery migraines (accompanied by slurred speech, hearing and vision loss and decreased consciousness) as well as an aggravating factor for certain types of headaches, migraines and vertigo, due to the narrowing of some blood vessels at the cervical level.

In the event that the Atlas MID is accompanied by compression of the occipital condyle on the Atlas, the probability of elevated pressure at the level of the spinal bulb increases, which transmits the impulses from the spinal cord to the brain and the vertebral and spinal arteries. This can be experienced as light-headedness (momentary dizziness).

Often, compression of the occipital condyls on the surface of the Atlas leads to excess tension in the sphenoid (skull bone), which can worsen headaches ( cephalea), muscle stiffness and tension (spasticity), and learning problems (speech, reading, and reasoning difficulties), which often become chronic.

Atlas MID Correction Guidelines

The removal of Minor Intervertebral Derangement from the Atlas is particularly indicated to improve the quality of life of people. During the 19 years of research carried out by the AtlasPROfilax® Academy of Switzerland in conjunction with prestigious radiology centers in Europe, such as the mRI in Germany, and based on the experience of the Atlasprofs® (AtlasPROfilax® specialists), it is possible to recommend this method for the following cases:

  • People suffering from fascial hysteresis, i.e. chronic stress of collagen fibres and proteoglycans. This is easily observed by feeling certain muscle groups in people with rheumatic disorders.
  • A wide range of algias. The most relevant and that obtain best results with the suppression of the Minor Intervertebral Disorder of the Atlas are Cervicalgia (neck pain), omalgia (shoulder pain), torticollis (dystonia of the sternocleidomastoid), lumbago (low back pain), coccygodynia (coccygeal pain) - as long as it is not caused by the anteroflexion of the coccyx - and talalgia (heel pain) - especially if it is a consequence of plantar fasciitis.
  • Chronic pain of a non-malignant nature that has been treated unsuccessfully with other methods (Medical methods: Physiatry, rehabilitation, neural therapy, acupuncture, etc. / Non-medical methods: Homeopathy, osteopathy, chiromassage, naturopathy, etc.)
  • Prone to muscle and joint stiffness whose tissues are altered and respond poorly to stretching. This is very frequent in those who present Accumulative Trauma Disorders, who have developed their musculoskeletal injuries as a consequence of the normal development of their work: e.g. repetitive efforts, non-ergonomic work stations, vibration of work tools, exposure to sudden changes in temperature, permanent lifting of weights. Muscle weakness, pain, stiffness, burning, tenderness, tingling and numbness usually improve depending on the type and degree of trauma.
  • All those deviations of the posture that cause inhibition of the phasic muscles and shortening of the postural muscles. Among them: Functional scoliosis (not neuropathic or metabolic), hyperciphosis (not Scheuermann) and lumbar hyperlordosis.
  • Contractions that are sustained over time and do not give way to massage or physical therapy.
  • People with trigger points that mainly affect the head, neck and upper extremities. E.g. Pain in the eyes, jaw, cranial sutures (frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital bones), neck (back of the neck), omalgia (shoulder pain), mobile pain in arm muscles (deltoid, biceps, supinator, etc.).Syndromes resulting from stress (also known as Adaptation Diseases) that manifest themselves at a digestive, urological, articular, muscular and/or dental level that are receiving medical treatment and use the AtlasPROfilax® method as a complement to it. Those that best respond are: Gastritis, irritable colon, enuresis in children, overactive bladder due to descent, diffuse joint pain, fibromyalgia and bruxism, e.g.
  • People who have difficulty performing simple activities such as walking up or down stairs, raising their arms, turning in bed, getting up from a chair, walking, combing their hair and/or carrying objects.  Very often, the performance of these activities improves significantly after the removal of the Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas provided that the origin of such difficulties is not metabolic (Hypothyroidism, Sjörgen's, osteoporosis, adrenal insufficiency, etc.).
  • People who have been in a past car accident with whiplash and who have since experienced sleep problems, diffuse pain and mood disorders.
  • People who work long hours in front of a computer and as a consequence are suffering from neck, back and lumbar pain.
  • People who have the "diagnosis" of Fibromyalgia. Despite the fact that today there is no consensus on this issue because many doctors insist that Fibromyalgia is more of a psychiatric than a physical disorder, for many of the natural therapies it is a fact that people with Fibromyalgia have a very important alteration of the myo-teno-periosteal balance and therefore it manifests itself with semi-articular pain, trigger points, fatigue, depression and sleep disorders, among others. The most remarkable contribution of suppressing the Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas is to positively affect the reestablishment of the equilibrium in the nociception (nervous reception of pain signals) to desensitize all those fascial and muscular structures that are hyperstimulated. This provides vitality, energy, greater flexibility and less muscular-articular stiffness.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders that are not easily diagnosed by their chameleon-like symptoms.
  • Cervicogenic (cervical) headaches that are triggered especially by neck movements and long periods of time in the same position. This headache is also characterized by cervical muscle hypersensitivity and restricted joint mobility.
  • Tension headache is nothing more than the result of tension and contraction of the neck and scalp muscles. This can be caused in response to stress, anxiety or depression. Although there is an important psychological component to this type of headache, suppression of the Occipital Compression Syndrome can be very beneficial because it releases the muscle attachments that are involved in this type of disorder.
  • Vascular headache that does not have a digestive origin (spastic colon, hypoglycemia, etc.), hormonal origin (menstruation, menopause) or that is not secondary to brain tumors, meningitis or cranio-encephalic trauma. The intensity of the migraine attacks decreases notably after the suppression of the Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas. The frequency with which they occur also varies, being increasingly spaced the attacks. This does not prevent the person from continuing treatment by his or her neurologist.
  • Those who feel difficulty in holding their head and feel a great weight on their neck and trapeziums. Although this may be a symptom of a multitude of pathologies, the role played by the centre of gravity of the skull in the cervical muscles is very interesting. If it is altered, the four muscular planes of the neck are usually affected and hyperstimulated. The re-establishment of the cranial centre of gravity moves towards the cervicals thus diminishing the hyperstimulation.
  • People who suffer from dizziness due to changes in position (orthostatic dizziness), cervical vertigo (induced by contractures), coordination and balance problems.
  • People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, who have had Cushing's Syndrome, Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Epstein-Barr, Lupis, Polymyositis and Myasthenia Gravis ruled out. In general, sleep disorders, muscle-joint pain and neurocognitive problems (loss of concentration and memory) tend to improve progressively once the Cranio-Caudal Atlas Deviation has been suppressed. This is due to the release of the vertebral arteries which results in better oxygenation of the brain.
  • The lumbo-sacral joint is the mechanical compensation of the cranio-cervical joint. The mechanical forces of compression on the discs increase if there is bad posture, which is normally accompanied by weakness of the abdominal muscles. Without this being the only explanation for lumbar hernia, frequently, minor intervertebral derangements are compensated with each other and in this case, the Minor Intervertebral Derangement of the Atlas usually leads to misalignments of the lumbar spine, especially, the lumbosacral, increasing the chances of disc herniation. If the AtlasPROfilax® method is applied preventively, the overloads on the discs usually return to equilibrium before the disc degenerates. If applied after disc herniation, the AtlasPROfilax® method can play an important role in reducing root pain and quality of life (increased mobility and flexibility, thoracic-lumbar fascial rebalance, improved metabolism of trace elements).

Special situations where the correction of the Atlas MID is NOT performed

Although there are no known contraindications for the application of the AtlasPROfilax® method, there are certain special conditions under which the technique is NOT performed. They are:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Vertebral Artery Syndrome.
  • Atlas or Axis Fracture.
  • Recent surgical procedures.
  • Abnormalities or malformations of the atlas and axis.


Imaging and Atlas MID

Radiology is not strictly reliable for the observation of Minor Intervertebral Derangements and therefore, neither is it reliable for deciding the direction of a manipulation maneuver (in chiropractic, for example). Dynamic radiography or cineradiography is not a useful tool either because it can throw wrong data about the mobile restrictions and therefore, lead to an incorrect deduction about the following action.

The technology of the 3D scanner provides greater precision and allows a much clearer and cleaner visualization of the atlas vertebra, its anchorage with the occipital condyles, its relation with the density of the axis as well as the neurovascular structures involved (vertebral arteries, brain stem). The volumetric scanner or 3D cranio-cervical CT allows a great approximation to its morphology, with a fine detail and a minimum exposure to Rx (10 mSv - miliSieverts).