Le, who owns Atlas Spinal Care of Folsom near Sacramento, California, says that while many people suffer from back and neck pain, the fear of twisting and cracking that comes with traditional physical spinal manipulation keeps them from pursuing chiropractic care.
The American Chiropractic Association estimates that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives, and Le suggests that unnecessary fears are preventing more people from feeling better.
She says the Atlas Orthogonal method is a safe, painless option—a non-invasive spinal correction that can restore body balance and improve body functions.
“AO chiropractors don’t use their hands and crack or pop,” says Le. “They focus on using an instrument to create percussion waves, or vibrations, that re-position the atlas vertebra. It’s very gentle and there’s no jabbing of the instrument at all.”
Le explains that the atlas is the first and top cervical vertebra, or the C1. The roughly 2-ounce bone supports the base of the skull and connects it to the spine, but she says the atlas supports the skull best when it’s in the orthogonal or neutral position, perpendicular to the spine.
“When the atlas is misaligned, the spine will overcompensate and will go out of alignment as well,” she says, “which can further cause nerve impingement and inflammation resulting in all kinds of symptoms such as migraine headaches, nausea, and vertigo, in addition to more common neck and back pain.”
And all of this, says Le, can be addressed painlessly with Atlas Orthogonal treatment.
According to GlobalAO.com, the official website of the Atlas Orthogonal Program, the technique requires such light touches to the affected area that patients expecting forceful manipulation during treatment, often find it hard to believe that anything effective has been accomplished. But, Le says those doubts vanish quickly when they see and feel the results.
Le shares a recent case study of an elderly patient with constant nausea and dizziness. The patient was unable to keep food down and was vomiting after every meal.
“This patient was frail and in no condition to withstand any twisting and popping,” says Le. “She was a good candidate for Atlas Orthogonal.”
During post treatment analysis, Le says she saw something that surprised even her.
“We do post-treatment x-rays for extremely severe patients to see if the angles are changing or if it’s going in the right direction,” she says. “To my surprise, it went all the way to neutral after the first treatment!”
Le says the patient was able to keep food down that evening, and during the follow-up visit, the patient reported an increased appetite and decreased dizziness. “It doesn’t happen that quickly with everybody,” explains Le, “but it did for this patient, and slowly but surely, she’s getting better.”
But the Folsom Chiropractor says that the fear of popping and cracking isn’t the only thing that holds people back from seeking chiropractic treatment. She said many patients share third-hand accounts that if you see a chiropractor once, you’ll have to continue with treatment for the rest of your life.
Le says that halting chiropractic care and allowing the atlas and spine to return to the misalignment that was present before the initial treatment is what creates further pain and discomfort.
“It’s returning your body to the state and pain it was in before you ever saw a chiropractor,” she explains, “not the treatment itself.”
In fact, the famed Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, says that serious complications associated with chiropractic adjustment are overall rare.
“You should want to visit your chiropractor regularly,” says Le. “I call it spinal hygiene. It’s taking care of your spine like you would take care of your teeth by going to the dentist regularly. You want to prevent cavities in your mouth and you want to prevent nerve impingement that creates the pain and discomfort in your back or neck.
“Good spinal hygiene reduces the chance of experiencing that discomfort while doing the normal activities of daily living,” she explains, “like grooming, dressing, or just going to play golf or playing with the kids.
“That’s why you go back to the chiropractor regularly—to maintain good spinal health.”
Le says that Atlas Orthogonal may not be the right treatment for everyone, and that conventional spinal manipulation and surgical options certainly have their place, but specializing in upper cervical care led her to focus on Atlas Orthogonal therapy for her patients, and she believes that it should be a first consideration for any patient experiencing neck or back pain.
“My mentor always said, ‘Chiropractic first, medication second, and irreversible surgery last,’” says Le.
Atlas Spinal Care of Folsom
4989 Golden Foothill Pkwy Ste 1, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762