Now that the kids are back in school let’s have a quick anatomy/Greek mythology lesson.

Who was the primordial Titan in Greek mythology who was condemned by Zeus to carry the whole world on his shoulders? What is the name of the top bone in your spinal column?

The answer to these questions is the Atlas. The Atlas bone is also condemned to carry a lot of weight: your head.

The Atlas bone is around 2 ounces, whereas the head, which sits on top of the Atlas, is a heavy 8-17 lbs and that’s with good posture!

Luckily the body has many strong attachments to this little bone to keep it in its important position, thus allowing generous movement of the neck.

But let’s suppose something happens to this bone which leads to a change in its position under the head and above the rest of the spine.

Well, according to physics if there is a change in the balancing act between the head and the rest of the spine, muscles, ligaments and bones begin to feel the strain of this structural shift.

The body wants to keep the head as centered as possible, and any deviation from the body’s center of gravity can cause not only structural changes, but what we call neurostructural shifts.

Understanding Neurostructural Shifts


Neurostructural shifts occur by changing the position of weight bearing joints including but not limited to other vertebral joints, knees, hips, ankles etc.

You may wonder why the body may shift to one side, causing added stresses to your right knee or your left shoulder.

These occur because the body does what it can to relieve pressures from the crucial spinal cord and its branching nerves.

These shifts can lead to secondary issues such as headaches, neck pain and back pain, just to name a few.

The longer this shift is not addressed, the more serious the issues start to become, potentially affecting nerves and every tissue in the body.

What Causes These Neurostructural Shifts?

One thing we know for sure is the body was not meant to withstand 20-40 mile impacts let alone 60-100 mile impacts!

Think about it.

When we were chasing after our prey with spears and clubs what was the fastest speed we were going? (Our aboriginal cousins evidently were capable of 23 mph speeds.)

If you watch the video below of a car being rear ended just going 6 mph you can see the effects this trauma can have, especially at the top of the neck where the atlas protects the vital brainstem.

The Atlas tends to be the most affected by traumas to the spine due to its location and the fact that it has no real locking mechanism as compared to the vertebral joints below it.

Yes, the Atlas is truly unique and unfortunately due to its delicate structure and close proximity to vital neural, arterial and venous parts, dislocation of this vertebrae is the main cause of death in automobile collisions.

Now car accidents are one thing, but even repetitive microtraumas that may seem inconsequential at the time can create these neurostructural shifts.

This is why we advocate that you get checked to see if your spine has suffered injury. We also advocate that children get  checked, as scoliosis can affect developing spines.

There are several types of scoliosis; congenital and idiopathic.

Idiopathic means that medical doctors don’t know what causes it. It is especially important for children to see their primary care provider to determine if they have an abnormal spinal curve before puberty.

The curves associated with scoliosis advance most rapidly during growth spurts, so it’s important for continued monitoring during the adolescent years up until age 23 for some!


Keep in mind that the sooner scoliosis is discovered and diagnosed, the better the chances a child can avoid many months of bracing, surgery and self esteem issues.

Several studies showed that chiropractic, specifically upper cervical chiropractic, prevented the curves from getting worse and in many cases reversed the abnormal angle of the spine.

In one case study, a 9 year old boy’s scoliosis was reduced 88% in a five month period under upper cervical care. I’ve included some additional studies under the sources below.

Looks like we just covered come anatomy, Greek mythology, pathophysiology, biomechanics and physics!  May your family have a great school year!

-Dr. Annie Apatiga


Here is a video with more information:

Souza TA. Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor. 2nd ed. Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA:
Aspen; 2001.
Chung JC, Salminen BS. Reduction in scoliosis in a 10-year-old female undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care: a case report. J Pedi Matrn Fam Heal. 2011 Win;1:23–30.
Khauv KBK, Dickholtz MD. Improvement in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in a patient undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care: a case report. J Pedi Matrn Fam Heal. 2010 Fal;4:136–142.Correction of Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis after Primary Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A Case Study.

Presented at the upper cervical spine conference, Nov 16- 17, 1996 Life College, Marietta, Georgia. Pub in
Chiropractic Research Journal, Vol. 1V, No.1, Spring 1997 p.29

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