Altas pain?
January 31, 2008 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Is my "Atlas" really out of whack? Have you heard or experienced NUCCA upper cerivical realignment?

I got a massage the other day, and I was talking to my masseuse about the wierd lightheadedness problem I have that won't go away and she suggested that my "Atlas" may be out of whack and to see her upper cervical guy. I have heard a few horror stories about chiropracters, and this guy is not on my list of providers so I am a little leery of going. That said my neck/upper back has been hurting all week and I still somewhat have the lightheaded thing going on, and headaches too.

Does anyone have any experience with the Atlas and/or upper cervical realignment (NUCCA)? Also I am curious as to costs involved, although if someone could make me feel normal again I would gladly devote a portion of my paycheck to them!

I read some of the other chiro threads, and the general consensus seems to go either way on the quakery aspect.
posted by Big_B to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)

I've got a friend who swears by it. 'Course, his father spent a few weeks walking around with peppercorns taped to his earlobes to fix a digestive problem, so you may want to take that particular family's experience with a grain of salt.
posted by hippugeek at 4:35 PM on January 31, 2008

I have been seeing a chiropractor for the last few months who practices NUCCA and has been adjusting my atlas. She was recommended to me by a TMJ specialist (I suffer from pretty debilitating TMJ) who I adore and trust. The whole chiropractor shtick seems nuts to me, and the chiropractor strikes me as more theatrical than medical. I have a really hard time figuring out what the hell she's talking about, let alone believing it.

However, I feel a million times better after she adjusts my atlas. It's amazing. Maybe it's some sort of voodoo placebo effect, but it's worked for me. And it's very gentle work (like I said, I'm not entirely convinced she's actually doing anything). I would urge you to give it a try.
posted by rabinowitz at 5:00 PM on January 31, 2008

Chiropractic neck manipulation can lead to stroke or death.

While I have no doubt that may be a possibility, I would not rely on advice from a psychiatrist who graduated from medical school in 1958 when making decisions related to chiropraxy and spinal health.
posted by dersins at 5:15 PM on January 31, 2008

Maybe not, but what about the roughly two dozen papers in peer-reviewed journals that he cites in support of his thesis?
posted by TedW at 5:26 PM on January 31, 2008

Wow, an ad hominem attack. Well, at the bottom of that page are 26 references, more than half of which are articles in peer-reviewed journals. Feel free to ignore his article and just read the research it was based on.
posted by grouse at 5:28 PM on January 31, 2008

I would tend to agree with rabinowitz. My current chiro is of a newer style, and uses an "activator" rather than manual manipulation. It's gentler than my previous chiro who would often cradle my head before snapping it one way, and "cracking" my neck. Interestingly, this gentle approach seems to net me better results.

I gave it three months when I started. My lower back was a mess and my mid-upper back was pretty much solid knots and my neck was often painful. Her moves seemed odd to me, and I didn't understand what she was up to. I'm a natural cynic too.

Well, within the 3 months, pretty much all my complaints improved and have stayed pretty good for about 4 years. I go when I feel things getting tired, or a little messed up, rather than the once-a-month that is recommended.

Also, from grouse's inflammatory link, it states early on that "No one really knows" the actual number of strokes that are a result of manipulation. Personally, I am not too keen on someone reefing my head around anymore, but let's not throw the baby out with (questionably bad) bathwater here.
posted by Richat at 5:30 PM on January 31, 2008

Wow, an ad hominem attack.

It's not an ad hominem attack. You made what was in essence an appeal to the authority of your source. It is reasonable for me to suggest that he may not be as much of an authority as you claim.
posted by dersins at 5:35 PM on January 31, 2008

"No one really knows" the actual number of strokes that are a result of manipulation.

True, and keep that in mind if someone claims that it is safe. What we do know is that neurologists have repeatedly identified vertebrobasilar strokes probably caused by neck manipulation. We also know that patients younger than 45 who had suffered this kind of stroke were five times more likely than control patients to have visited a chiropractor in the previous week.

The only real debate is really over how many strokes chiropractors have caused, and to what extent the manipulation is responsible for the subsequent stroke.

It's not an ad hominem attack.

Maybe not, in the same imaginary universe where I even mentioned Barrett's authority.
posted by grouse at 6:07 PM on January 31, 2008

Find a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) that does OMT (osteopathic manipulative treatment). If you find a good one, they can really help figure out what's going on. Plus with the issue of vertebral artery insufficiency, etc, the physical exam and special manipulative tests that can (and will) be performed before actually doing the treatments that will forewarn of impending doom. Truthfully, in the literature, the odds of something happening by a well trained DO (and even w/chiropractors, PT, etc) are better than the odds of winning the lottery. PS, the special tests are called the Vertebral artery challenge and Spurling test. IANAD, but DO student.
posted by uncballzer at 6:50 PM on January 31, 2008

Yeah, I've had it done, but it was for a wicked knot in my neck that wouldn't go away. It worked for that.

If you're having lightheadedness and vision problems, have you had your blood sugar checked?

Also a check-up with an opthamologist might be in order, sometimes they can detect things that might be missed on your regular exam.

I'd be really leery of passing off panic/eye problems/dizziness as a mental symptom unless I had 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinions from MD's. Panic could just be "wtf is wrong with me?" It could also be a physical symptom of something else. Find out for sure by being persistent with your doctor(s) and proceed on advice from your masseuse with caution. I'm not knocking other people's experience with chiro, it helped me for my neck problem, but it seems sort of odd to me to go for this sort of treatment for dizziness.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:55 PM on January 31, 2008

How many times do I have to see someone who had the abrupt onset of a vertebral artery dissection during a chiropractic high-velocity neck manipulation, leading to a severe stroke and/or death, before I start to say to myself, "Hey, rapidly manipulating the neck in this unnatural way might be harmful to the critical blood vessel that runs right through the area being manipulated?"

I've been involved in 3 cases like this myself, and dozens are reported in the literature. So I advise anyone to avoid this particular type of manipulation. Vertebral artery dissection sucks and once it happens to you there's no going back and fixing it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:59 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]

Thanks all. From what I understand the "NUCCA" manipulation does not involve cracking, but is more gentle. Supposedly this first one is free (after I buy the undercoating).

Marie Mon Dieu - I have had MRIs and a videonystagmography test - both negative. I've seen two different regular docs, a nuerologist, and an ear-nose-throat surgeon. No one seems to have an answer. Next on the list was an opthamologist, so thanks for reminding me!

I'll be sure to let you all know if I had a stroke.
posted by Big_B at 9:21 AM on February 1, 2008

« Older Is there an invoicing program that works well with...   |   Getting around San Francisco International Airport Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.