Trouble With The Cervical Curve – Solved

A young woman presented last week, having been told by her primary care physician that a reverse curve really wouldn’t cause her milieu of problems. (Neck pain, neck stiffness, decreased range of motion, dizziness, “foggy-thinking”, jaw pain, poor sleep, headaches, etc.) She then sought out the care of a chiropractor, who proceeded to assure her that her reversed curve was so bad that she would just have to live with it–and, see him once a week for the rest of her life just to make it bearable. (get used to it, and pay…) Desperate, worried and in tears we spoke on her first visit. I looked at her x-rays, and thought… “I think I can help this woman” (….but then again, I have thoughts like this all the time….)

After examination, I told her that it was quite likely that she had an atlas subluxation–and I thought she was a candidate for the atlas positioning procedure. We obtained useful images which confirmed the diagnosis of Atlas Subluxation, and we scheduled the procedure. She returned several days later. Immediately following the procedure, I could see the life return to her face, she took a deep breath, and smiled at me.. and I thought, “oh… so this is what you look like” She spent her next 30 minutes recovering and stabilizing in my recovery area. When she arose, I post checked her and re-imaged her. The post x-rays told the story: she had embarked upon the healing path. She knew it. I knew it. I love my work.

Curious about her immediate relief, I asked to see an MRI of her head and neck which was taken prior to her initial visit in my office. I suspected that the cervical kyphosis was perhaps exerting a “tractioning” down force on the cerebellar tonsils, and drawing them into an aspect of the foreman magnum, thus interfering with CSF flow out of the cranial vault. Cerebellar tonsillar ectopy (CTE)is a common finding in the whiplash population according to a study done by Freeman, Rosa, et al. CTE exists when the lower part of the cerebellum abnormally extends down into the foreman magnum (the big hole at the bottom of the skull through which passes the spinal cord, the vertebral arteries and the cerebrospinal fluid.)  As suspected, she did have CTE, exacerbated by the fact that her cervical spine had a reversal of the normal curvature, and a significant lateral displacement. A post MRI has not been performed yet, but in most cases wherein “pre” and “post” MRI studies have been performed following the Trans-dermal Atlas Positioning (TAP) procedure, the CTE is resolved. (See Freeman, Rosa, et al.)





14 thoughts on “Trouble With The Cervical Curve – Solved

  1. Dear Dr. Chapman,

    I have searched all over the net for information regarding this matter and find that this blog is the most comprehensive and well-written so thank you for that!

    I am a 27 year old female who has battled chronic back pain since I was 23. It started with my right shoulder going numb — no matter how much people massaged it, I couldn’t feel a thing. It was very uncomfortable and, within a year, progressed to the point where I needed pain killers. The pain is constant — it isn’t sharp but it rather feels like someone is hanging on my spine. On the odd occassion that I’ve run out of medicine, I am reduced to tears – I can’t stand or lie down, massages, hot baths/showers, ice packs, etc. don’t work and I have to go to hospital to get an injection for the pain [if it is late @ night and the chemists are closed.]

    I have seen a million doctors: biokineticists, neurologists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, etc. etc. Everywhere I go I get a different diagnosis (athritis, fibromyalgia, religious issues! etc). I had an MRI last year and the neurosurgeon said that I had a severe loss of cervical lordosis due to severe muscle spasm and other than that, my spine was 100% healthy. He recommended physical therapy.

    Everytime I try to work out (treadmill, yoga, etc.) I have to up my pain medication because I am very sore the next day or so. I am on 3 – 4 Biobaclofen (muscle relaxant), 6 – 8 Tramacet (pain killer), Tripilene (bladder issues that started with the back pain — not incontinence but having to go to the toilet 15+ a day) and Arcoxia (an anti-inflammatory.) I am very drowsy and sleep most of the day. As you can imagine, this has effected my whole life. It has pretty much been put on hold since I was 24. I’m living the life of a sick 90 year woman as opposed to a girl in her 20’s!

    I don’t know if it is because I live in South Africa that I have not been diagnosed properly (the standard of education here could be better) or if it because I have some unique disease?

    One biokineticist I saw recommended that I take HUMIRA for athritis. (She diagnosed me in a few minutes.) I’ve developed such a mistrust of doctors lately that I researched it and found out that it is extremely dangerous. I decided to file her prescription in my quack file. I’ve mentioned it to other doctors and they’ve been horrified!

    I apologize for the long comment — I just don’t know what else to do. I’ve seen every doctor imaginable and no one helped or knew what was wrong with me.

    I am going in to hospital next week for a bunch of different tests — don’t know how successful they will be.

    Any help or advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Thank you so much for your time,


    1. Sharon:

      I’m so sorry that I just discovered your post–blogging is not my strong suit!! I would appreciate if you’d drop me a line and catch me up on your progress–if any. Certainly, your constellation of symptoms strongly points to the atlas being out of alignment. Please provide an update, or give us a call and we can discuss it via telephone. We have a very bright and wonderful patient coordinator who can answer many questions. Consults are free..
      Kindest Regards,
      Dr. Chapman

  2. Dr. Chapman,

    I’m hoping this is my answer… I hurt my neck about 8 years ago snow boarding. 3 herniated discs and reverse curve in my neck. About 2 years ago I underwent decompression for my discs and that did help a lot! However, I still have all sorts of pain in my neck from the reverse curve. This leads to headaches, muscle pain (I get massages constantly to loosen up the tightness) and general overall achy feeling. I’ve in some ways learned to live with the pain but I no longer can run (that produces terrible headaches) and most days i’m fighting the neck pain. Can you tell me more about this procedure? I’m very interested.

  3. Please in lay terms tell what is causing me to hear popping and grinding every time I turn my neck left or right. I just left the hospital with severe pain in my left arm, and they told me dehydration and nothing was wrong with me. I told them that my hand was numb, and my arm and shoulder ached. Can my neck be causing those symptoms. EKG was good. I copied and pasted my xray from my doctor visit several months back below. Can you explain what this means also:

    There is reversal of lordosis. Vertebral body heights are normal.
    Substantial degenerative disc disease present at the level C5-C6 and
    C6-C7. I see no evidence acute osseous injury.
    IMPRESSION: Substantial degenerative arthritic change with
    degenerative disc disease C5-C6-C7 associated with reversal of

    1. Yes. Your neck is, or is likely the cause of the severe pain in the left arm, not the heart, though folks have been known to have more than one thing going on a time–and the heart is important enough, that it’s care is vital, and should be truly ruled out. Reversal of curvature increases the loading on the disc’s which in enhances the compressive forces on the disc. This will force the water out of them and increase disc dessication (dehydration). This can impinge on the nerve and cause the arm pain, transient numbness and aching shoulder. This, I’m fairly sure, is coming from your neck. Obtain an MRI, and there will likely be nerve impingement from the lower cervical discs. The cracking and popping is likely associated with the degenerative changes of the spine as read by the radiologist. Surgery may be suggested if the arm pain in severe enough. I have treated many folks in your condition, conservatively–WITHOUT SURGERY!! I believe surgery is a last option. Please feel free to call my office and speak with Joyce about a non-surgical option that can actually fix the problem. Dr. Chapman

  4. Dr Chapman,
    The reversed neck curve began to manifest when I was in my 20’s. Cervical disc deterioration began to manifest in my 30’s. Several neck injuries in my 20’s and 30’s. I’ve gone to chiropractors for it since my 20’s. Now 54, it’s gotten so debilitating & is causing me such distress I cannot concentrate on anything else: just the desire to get relief from this miserable condition. I can’t get comfortable in any position, can barely turn my head, constantly in pain & feel spacey/”disconnected”, have trouble swallowing, have a constant sound of high pitched frequencies in my head as of 2004, my left arm goes numb, and it is adversely affecting my ability to think straight. Very hard to deal with ANYTHING else, even small problems, on top of it. It contributed to the loss of my long-term relationship recently. My ability to support myself has become almost impossible because it is so disabling. I am in the Charlottesville/Waynesboro/Staunton Virginia area. Any practitioners I could seek help from in this area? I’m so desperate now I’d probably be willing to relocate to where there is a competent practitioner who could help me. The only thing I can think about is seeking help for this condition, which I am unpleasantly aware of night and day. I can’t afford for it to continue or to get worse. Thank you for any help you can offer.

    1. Hello Jean: So sorry to hear of your suffering all these years with neck problems. These types of problems can certainly be resolved. The young lady whose x-rays and MRI you saw, is largely symptom free today. Our last visit was well over 6 months ago. I have referred to doctors around the country over the years, and have had a mixed bag of results. I like to have people come see me here–because I know my work, and because we are equipped to take on the complex, multidisciplinary patient. That said, a few of my colleagues have had good results with cervical curvature restoration. Is Utah an option for you? If not, please call our office and we will work with you to find you a doctor that is more practical for you. I will say, that the symptoms that you describe can all be related to the atlas subluxation, which in most cases, is a key component of the reversed cervical curve. Don’t give up hope–options are available. Dr. Chapman

  5. Hi Dr. Chapman,
    Firstly, thank you for posting this blog! I have an S shaped curve in my neck. At age 20, I got into a car accident that caused me some whiplash. I already had neck problems prior, and the accident made it worse. I saw a chiropractor 2-3 times a week after my accident, which helped restore my neck mobility but the pain has not resolved. My neck aches almost everyday ranging from 2-8/10 pain. I am 22 and I constantly worry about this getting worse. I currently don’t get arm pain or numbness and tingling (thankfully) but I recently developed hand pain in both hands. Is this from my neck??
    I started seeing a NUCCA chiropractor 5 months ago. For a couple months, I experienced AMAZING results, my pain levels went down to 0-4/10 and I could function better. There were days where I was pain free. Recently, my pain patterns changed that it was becoming severe again and mostly only on the right side would hurt now, when before it was both. Is this normal to experience pain on only one side as part of the changing process? He said he was working on atlas rotation recently.. Should I continue care if I temporarily get worse? Please offer your advice. Surgery is a LAST option for me as well…especially at age 22….


    1. Please call the office and speak with Joyce who will explore your symptom and your history further. If you and she determine, she will set up a consultation with me via phone or at my clinic. The latter is preferred. Warm regards, Dr. Chapman. 801.655.1801

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