Pain – It’s All Related

Just one vertebra out of position can affect the entire body.

A 30-year veteran of the US Postal Service, Pat Coon put a lot of strain on her back and neck sorting and delivering mail. She never knew the stress on her spine could cause pain elsewhere in her body.Stock photos from
“I got migraine headaches, and most of them were from the repetition of bending my head down, and twisting and turning at work,” relates Pat. “Sometimes, the headaches and pressure on my neck made me nauseated, and sensitive to light and sound. I also had a lot of pain in my neck along with the headaches, which were practically constant.”
Being sensitive to light was especially difficult for Pat, who worked outdoors delivering mail. While she insisted on staying on the job despite the headaches, she relented to the pain when she was done for the day.
“I wasn’t completely debilitated by the migraines, but it didn’t help that I worked outside in the sunshine,” she explains. “The first thing I did when I got home was make sure everything was nice and dark, take a cold shower and go to bed.”
At that point, Pat thought she was destined to suffer. Then, a friend told her about an upper cervical doctor he visited in California. He recommended she seek the care of a similar chiropractor locally.
Pat looked up providers in the area and discovered Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
Dr. Zabawa is a board-certified upper cervical chiropractor. He uses gentle, precise adjustment protocols known as Orthospinology and Atlas Orthogonal procedures to treat misalignments of the spine.
“Unlike other chiropractors, I don’t use snap-crackle-pop techniques during spinal adjustments,” says Dr. Zabawa. “I concentrate only on the uppermost vertebra, called the atlas, using an instrument that produces what feels almost like a puff of air.”
“I felt very comfortable when I met
Dr. Zabawa,” states Pat. “He was knowledgeable and definitely knew what he was talking about. He was very honest and didn’t try to make me come back all the time. Instead, he set up a sensible plan for me.
“My daughter also had neck issues and headaches. She did a lot of swimming when she was younger, so she had shoulder issues as well. A friend of hers recommended the upper cervical treatment for her neck and shoulders. We both go to Dr. Zabawa.”

About the Atlas

Just as the mighty Atlas in Greek mythology held up the world, the first cervical vertebra, the atlas, holds up the head. Atlas adjustment procedures seek to maintain the precise alignment of that vertebra.
“Since the balance of the head on the neck controls the body’s posture, this balance is essential to good health,” informs Dr. Zabawa. “Misalignment of the atlas vertebra causes the spine to twist in an attempt to maintain that balance. This twist can put pressure on the spinal cord or the brainstem itself.

“It’s much easier on your body. It felt like a little tap, and almost immediately, I could tell the difference.” – Pat

“This pressure can cause a variety of symptoms and problems, many of which can appear to be unassociated with the cervical spine. These include lower back and hip problems, and headaches such as Pat and her daughter suffered.”
At Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota, Dr. Zabawa begins his initial evaluation with a complete examination to check for subluxation.
“That’s just a big word meaning that two bones are out of position and you may have nerve pressure,” notes
Dr. Zabawa. “If there is subluxation and we’ve determined that a patient is a good candidate for the atlas procedure, then we take a series of extremely detailed, three-dimensional x-rays.
“Since the adjustment is highly precise, the measurements we take and the analysis we make are also meticulous. When I know the exact angle at which a patient is misaligned, I know how to adjust them.”
“Dr. Zabawa took the x-rays first to make sure where to do the treatment,” confirms Pat. “The first time he did it, I could tell right away my spine went back into place.”

Restoring Balance

“What makes upper cervical chiropractic unique is the gentleness and precision of the adjustment,” reports Dr. Zabawa. “Patients lie on their side, right or left, depending on how they are misaligned. Then, gently, using one instrument, I realign their whole spine. An upper cervical correction is very controlled so there is no pulling or jerking of such a delicate area.”
Stock photos from instrument used during the procedure produces a very light tapping on the patient’s neck. The tapping is done at a high speed and is barely noticeable by the patient. Still, the force travels through the soft tissue and muscles to the bone and gently realigns the vertebra at the appropriate point to release pressure on the spinal cord and brainstem.
“Dr. Zabawa is not like your everyday chiropractors who manipulate your body. He uses a machine to do that,” offers Pat. “It’s much easier on your body, and I felt the effects right away. There wasn’t any pain at all with the treatment. It felt like a little tap, and almost immediately, I could tell the difference. It’s the only thing I found that relieves the headaches.”
“When I adjust the atlas vertebra, I’m actually adjusting the full spine, including the pelvis and sacrum,” describes
Dr. Zabawa. “Once the spine, head and neck have returned to their proper positions, interference is removed thus taking pressure off the nervous system. By removing that pressure, balance is restored to the body. It’s an effective approach without any extreme manipulations.
“The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself. I’d like to see chiropractic as a proactive treatment to stop a lot of conditions before they worsen. Unfortunately, I see patients when they’ve tried everything else and they’re trying this last. Chiropractic treatment is where many people should start.”

Headache Relief

Pat and her daughter have been patients of Dr. Zabawa since 2010. Pat’s neck pain and headaches have resolved, and she now sees the doctor for maintenance care. She doesn’t want a return of the pain she suffered before treatment.
“I feel great as long as I go to
Dr. Zabawa about once a month,” Pat says. “If I do something crazy, like twist wrong, I have to go back sooner. But if I keep my neck straight, it pretty much keeps my whole body in line.”
Dr. Zabawa notes that Pat’s daughter’s misalignment wasn’t as significant as Pat’s, in part because she is younger. Her shoulder pain and headaches have disappeared since treatment. Like Pat, she visits the doctor on a periodic basis.
Thanks to Dr. Zabawa and the atlas procedure, Pat is now headache free. She’s happy to have her life back to normal and to deliver mail in the sunshine without discomfort. She’s also pleased with her experience at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.
“I enjoy my time there,” she says. “Dr. Zabawa’s assistant is the greatest. I can call her any time I need to. She’s very accommodating. They’re both great at everything.
“I feel very confident with
Dr. Zabawa and Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.”

Print This Article
    • Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota

      At Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota, discover Upper Cervical Chiropractics. It is a gentle, effective approach to renewed health and relief of discomfort, without traditional manipulation.     ... Read More

    • Stephen R. Zabawa, DC

      Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, is board certified in Orthospinology and is certified by the Upper Cervical Academy. He received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Dr. Zabawa cur... Read More

    • Stephen R. Zabawa, DC

      Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, is board certified in Orthospinology and is certified by the Upper Cervical Academy. He received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Dr. Zabawa cur... Read More