Winning Adjustments

Technique to align atlas vertebra relieves headaches, other ailments.

Candi Walker has always lived a very active lifestyle. As a youth, she rode and showed horses. She was also a competitive ice skater. Over the years, though, those activities took a toll on her body. Photo courtesy of Candi Walker.

In addition to general pain and soreness, she has suffered from debilitating headaches that started when she was 12 years old after a fall from her horse nearly left her paralyzed.

“I have been to several neurologists over the years and on many different pain medications, but none of them provided permanent relief,” Candi laments. “Part of the problem, of course, was that I was only putting a Band-Aid on the situation.

“That went on for years until a friend suggested I see a chiropractor. So, 35 years ago, I started to receive atlas orthogonal procedures – basically, an alignment of the atlas vertebra, which is the uppermost vertebra in the neck.

“That was the only thing that managed my pain. I started those treatments when I lived in Atlanta, and when I moved to Sarasota, I found Stephen R. Zabawa, DC, at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota.”

The Atlas Procedure

An upper cervical chiropractor, board-certified in orthospinology, Dr. Zabawa uses gentle, precise adjustment protocols, including the atlas orthogonal technique, to treat misalignments of the spine.

The atlas adjustment procedures seek to maintain the precise alignment of the atlas vertebra, which is essential to good health. Misalignment of the atlas vertebra causes the spine to twist in an attempt to maintain balance.

This twist can pinch nerves and put pressure on the spinal cord or brain stem. In turn, the pressure can cause a variety of symptoms and problems, many of which can appear to be unassociated with the cervical spine.

To determine whether a person is suffering from misalignment of the atlas vertebra and is a candidate for the atlas procedure, Dr. Zabawa begins by performing a complete examination of the patient to check for subluxation.

Subluxations are often deceiving, however. Though symptomatic pain may appear in the lower back, legs, shoulders, arms or other parts of the body, the cause is very often located in the cervical spine.

“Subluxation is just a big word meaning that two bones are out of position and you have nerve pressure,” Dr. Zabawa explains. “If there is subluxation and we determine that a patient is a good candidate for the atlas procedure, we then take a series of extremely detailed, 3D 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 utilizes a light-force method of adjusting the cervical spine. This extremely gentle method delivers a precise, effective adjustment that takes pressure off the spinal cord.

“Unlike other chiropractors, I do not snap-crackle-pop you,” Dr. Zabawa explains. “Here, you lie on your side and, using one instrument, I gently realign your whole spine. It is that gentle adjustment that makes the upper cervical chiropractic unique.

“Regular upper cervical adjustments have helped me through sports injuries and stressful events all my life.” – Candi

“An upper cervical correction is very controlled so there is no pulling or jerking of such a delicate area. It’s so gentle that it almost feels like a puff of air touching you. This very gentle touch makes a very powerful correction.”

The instrument Dr. Zabawa uses to correct an imbalance of the atlas bone is a handheld device called a Laney instrument. The instrument works by delivering an extremely small but fast tap that produces enough force to realign the bone.

“It only hits once and produces quite a force,” Dr. Zabawa explains. “It is a force that you really cannot feel, but it is there. It goes through the soft tissue, through the muscle, to the bone. It moves the bone and takes the pressure right off the nervous system.”

The doctor determines precisely where to deliver this force based on the 3D x-rays he takes. Similar to how a professional pool player lines up a shot based on angles and trajectory, Dr. Zabawa compiles information about the spine to determine the angle needed.

“I get a 3D picture of how a patient is misaligned, so I know the exact angle to come in and correct it,” he assures. And by adjusting the upper cervicals, I’m actually adjusting the full spine, including the pelvis and sacrum.

“Once the spine, head and neck have returned to their proper positions, interference is removed. That takes pressure off the nervous system, and by removing that pressure, balance is restored to the body. It is an effective approach without any extreme manipulations.”

Body, Heal Thyself

Dr. Zabawa emphasizes that the atlas adjustments can help relieve symptoms from many different ailments, including bed-wetting, digestive disorders, asthma and even high blood pressure.

Photo courtesy of Candi Walker.

Candi lives a much more active lifestyle, thanks to the atlas adjustments.

“The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself,” Dr. Zabawa reminds. “But nerve interference can cause many problems and hinder healing. By aligning the bones of the upper neck – adjusting the upper cervicals – pressure is taken off the spine and nerves. When you take pressure off the nervous system, the body begins to heal.”

Candi can attest to that. She has given up showing horses and hung up her ice skates, but thanks to Dr. Zabawa and his upper cervical adjustments, she now enjoys the quality of life she once struggled to gain.

“Stress is another thing that my body does not handle well,” Candi reports. “Everyone has stress, which affects the body in many ways, including misalignment. But regular upper cervical adjustments have helped me through sports injuries and stressful events all my life.

“That’s why I am so happy to have found noninvasive, non-medication relief. I go regularly for my adjustments to keep things aligned and balanced. It’s just that easy, and
Dr. Zabawa is fantastic. He’s very gentle, yet accurate and precise.

“The staff at Atlas Chiropractic of Sarasota is exceptional, as well. They are all so professional and accommodating. They really do provide top-notch care there.”

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