The atlas and axis are the technical names of the upper two vertebra in the neck. The top vertebra is called the atlas. Just as the Greek God, Atlas, held up the world, the atlas of the spine holds up the head. The axis gets its name from the axis of the earth since seventy percent of the rotation of the head occurs at the axis vertebra. Consider the weight of the head, at eight to ten pounds, and that these two top vertebrae are held to the head by only ligaments—the result is a very vulnerable joint to injury. Every other vertebra below the axis is connected by a very strong and fibrous disc. Those discs don’t allow a vertebra to misalign to the degree that the spinal cord is threatened. Does that mean that most patients that walk into the office of an Escondido chiropractor are out of alignment, or subluxated, at the atlas/axis region? Unfortunately, yes!

At present, birth procedures are incredibly traumatic to an infant’s neck. We are the only creatures with a spine that, when born, is pulled out instead of pushed out. Consider the vulnerability of the atlas/axis structure and we’ve got a problem. Below is a most revealing paper by Gutmann published in the German Manual of Medicine in 1987. In the abstract to his paper, Gutmann, a prominent expert in the Manual of Medicine from Bad Sassendo, West Germany, writes:

Nerve Syndrome in Babies and Infants


  • Blocked nerve impulses at the atlas cause many clinical features from central motor impairment to lower resistance to infections—especially ear, nose and throat infections.
  • Chiropractic and radiological examination are “of decisive importance” for diagnosis of the syndrome.
  • “Chiropractic can often bring about amazingly successful results, because therapy is a casual one. 


Gutmann reports examination and adjustment of more than 1,000 infants with atlas blockage or subluxation. Three case reports are given. One describes a boy of 18 months with early relapsing tonsillitis, frequent enteritis, therapy resistive conjunctivitis, frequent colds and earache, and increasing sleeping problems (fear of lying down or sleeping, falling from exhaustion, screaming during the night). After the first specific adjustment of the atlas, the child demanded to be put to bed and slept peacefully until morning. The conjunctivitis cleared completely, and previously disturbed appetite returned to normal. 

From his other German medical studies, Gutmann concludes that approximately 80% of all children are not in autonomic balance and that many have atlas blockage or subluxation. He has been “constantly amazed how, even with the lightest adjustment with the index finger, the clinical picture normalizes, sometimes gradually, but often immediately.”

His colleague Frymann, he reports, examined a random group of 1250 babies 5 days post-partum. 211 suffered from vomiting, hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Manual examination revealed cervical strain in 95% of this group. Release of this strain by specific manipulation “frequently resulted in immediate quieting, cessation of crying, and muscular relaxation and sleepiness.”

Gutmann’s highly significant conclusions are:


  • “Observations of motor development and manual control of the occipito-atlanto-axial joint complex should be obligatory after every difficult birth.”
  • “With any development impairment the joint complex should be examined and, if required, specifically adjusted… the success of adjustment overshadows every other type of relief care.”


`Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome in Babies and Infants,’ Gutmann G, Manuelle Medizin (1987) 25:5-10

‘A Priceless Legacy- Lost, Strayed or Forfeited,’ Peters and Chance M, J Australian Chiropractors’ Association. (1988) 18(3): 81-84


Have your child checked today. In fact, I feel so strongly that any child under twelve years of age will be examined for free, assuming x-rays are not necessary (which is usually the case). 

If your child is subluxated, the correction time is greatly reduced compared to an adult patient. As adults, we might think that we are okay, but unless you were check at birth by a chiropractor, chances are that you are suffering from an upper neck subluxation from your own birth process. I am happy to say that the specialized technique (no cracking or popping) used in my office works great for this most important misalignment. The results can be miraculous for a multitude of conditions. As a your friendly chiropractor for neck pain in Escondido, I look forward to serving you and your family. 


Rickards Chiropractic

1340 West Valley Parkway

Suite 201

Escondido, CA 92029