Your Atlas

Atlas….what is that? Remember those old books that had pages and pages of maps in them? That’s an atlas…but not the one we’re talking about. In Greek mythology, Atlas was the god of endurance and astronomy and was condemned to hold up the sky for eternity. You’re probably familiar with an image like this:

Brain Stem and Spinal Cord Helmet

Your atlas is the top bone in your spine – also called C1. The atlas is so named because of its job – to mechanically support your head on top of your spine. What’s amazing is that your atlas weighs about 60 grams (2 oz.) and has to support your head that weighs 4-7kg! That’s not really the most important thing about your atlas though. Its MOST important job is to protect your brain stem and spinal cord as they exit your head. The MOST important part of your spine and nerve system we ever check is your upper neck. The highest concentration of nerves in your spinal cord are protected by your atlas. The nerves in your spinal cord are just as sensitive as the nerves in your head that are protected by a nice thick helmet called your skull.

One of the ways we assess the alignment of your atlas is by x-ray. Being able to view the bone position and joint health (or damage) gives us details about long term stresses to your spine. Posture, balance and the digital nerve scan (EMG) tells us about more recent stresses to your nerve system such as: awkward sleeping positions, poor work postures, relationship or work stresses and chemical stresses (dietary, drugs, coffee, etc.). We see significant changes to these scans before and after someone gets their nerve system (and especially their atlas) cleared of subluxation.

Want a few more facts? Check this out:

1. The C1/C2 joint is able to rotate approximately 40° which is about 50% of your neck’s total rotation
2. There is very little sideways bending of your neck that occurs at C1/C2, it’s only about about 5-10°
3. Unlike all the other vertebrae, C1 does not have a vertebral body, it is just a thin ring of bone
4. Only 2% of spinal cord injuries occur at C1 and C2


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  • I have been suffering with neck and back pain and lack of mobility since my early teens and I am now 27, but I have progressively had a harder time coping with it since I started working in Healthcare in 2019. It had gotten to the point where all I could think about was finding a different job throughout my shift because I wasn't sure how much longer I could handle it. I decided to give Chiropractic Medicine a try and I am so thankful I did! I have been going to Ancaster Family Chiropractic since July 2021 and I have experienced a significant improvement with reduced severity and frequency of pain, better range of motion in my neck and back, and I rarely have to take OTC pain medication which is something I was relying on daily beforehand. I am not even halfway through my treatment plan and I can't wait to continue experiencing improvement in my quality of life. Thank you, Dr. Neil, Sue and Deb!

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    Kyle K.
  • Dr. Neil does an incredible job at adjusting your spine so your body can heal the way it's made to. He also teaches you how to live your most healthy lives! Dr. Neil, Deb and Sue are all friendly and caring individuals, which makes for a great team of staff!

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  • Being part of the Ancaster Family Chiropractor was the best decision, my treatment help with my posture and sleeping habits. The team are also very professional and welcoming.

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    Loretta C.
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  • Dr. Neil and the staff Deb and Sue were very helpful with dealing with my issues. I went in with a lower back pain and has been healing pretty well. I have noticed the adjustments and home exercise not only helped with the pain but also helped with my digestion issues such as bloating. They were very accommodating whenever I needed a change in visits.Overall a great place to get yourself healed.

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    Organic C.
  • Their philosophy of health and well being is encouraging, optimistic and realistic. I appreciate the idea of leading a healthy lifestyle and preventing illness rather than simply treating the symptoms of ailments. Also, there are times unexpected benefits to chiropractic care. I wholeheartedly recommend Ancaster Family Chiropractic.

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    Jared W.
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  • Great service and atmosphere, staff is friendly. I am always eager for my weekly adjustments, feel so much better after and very energized. Highly recommend the place.

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