Does Atlas Health chiropractic really work?

Posted in Chiropractic on Nov 11, 2019

Does Atlas Health chiropractic really work?

What is the Atlas Health chiropractic technique?

The Atlas Health chiropractic technique focuses on the alignment of the top bones of the neck - namely the atlas (C1), axis (C2) but also C3 - in great detail: down to the direction and degree of alignment!

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These bones protect your brainstem, which is the master control center of your body, directing all body functions. If your brain is not able to communicate clearly with the rest of your body, your body doesn't function at its optimum, and you may develop a number of potential health conditions. But when your brain is able to communicate clearly with all parts of your body, your body is better able to heal and stay well.

So the Atlas Health chiropractic technique focuses on the alignment of these bones in the upper part of your neck for the health and function of your entire body.

There are actually several techniques that fall under the heading of "Atlas Chiropractor." 

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  • Blair*
  • Atlas Orthogonal* (plus similar methods, Advanced Orthogonal and EPIC)
  • NUCCA (with similar method QSM3*)
  • Orthospinology (aka Grostic)
  • Toggle Recoil*
  • Knee Chest Specific*


Of all the upper cervical chiropractic doctors in Australia (and to the best of our knowledge), we are the only ones who have formally trained and practiced in multiple of the atlas health chiropractic techniques.

Our principal chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, has studied all 6 of the major methods, has taken formal courses in all of the ones highlighted in bold, and uses principles from all the above to provide the highest-level of upper cervical expertise available in Australia.

Our primary approach is the Blair atlas health chiropractic technique, which we have found to be most accurate. Nevertheless, if you are looking for an upper cervical chiropractor near you who performs a specific method, we are still able to draw on our knowledge and skills to provide precise care for the alignment of your upper neck.

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Are Chiropractors Real Doctors?

In my office, I have a six-figure piece of paper that reads, "Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, Doctor of Chiropractic."

I joke that it is the most expensive piece of paper I own because it represents the 4 years of primary science study followed by the 5 years worth of doctoral-level study (condensed into a 3 1/3 year program) in chiropractic school.

Plus 5x rounds of national accreditation boards in the USA (where I completed my training).

Plus a national accreditation board to practice in Australia (a 3-day exam)

Plus who knows how many hours studying, drilling, and practicing in the specific art of upper cervical care, which is the special division of chiropractic that I use.

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So the question, "Are chiropractors real doctors?" Uh, yes.

We are simply types of doctors who have different purposes.

Medical doctors are trained primarily in the diagnosis and treatment of disease primarily with pharmaceutical treatments.

Dentists (aka dental doctors) are trained primarily in the diagnosis and correction of problems associated with a specific part of the body: the teeth and jaw.

Chiropractic doctors are trained primarily in the diagnosis and correction of specific disorders of the spine predominantly with physical "adjustments" or corrections.

It is my opinion - and I'm sure that some will disagree with me - but I would summarise the need for the following professions when we suffer physical injuries of the spine as follows:

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  • Broken Bones - Medical doctor (orthopaedist)
  • Dislocations - Medical doctor (orthopaedist)
  • Subluxation (which is a misalignment that the body cannot self-correct) - Chiropractic doctor
  • Misalignment (which is an injury that the body can self-correct through physical movement) - Physiotherapist
  • Sprain/stain - Physiotherapist


We could split hairs on a few of these. However, I hope that by illustrating this quick chart that I might be able to show that there is a time and place for all the different health professions: including the medical doctor, the chiropractic doctor, and the physiotherapy doctor.

How long do chiropractors go to school?

There's a bit of a difference between how long chiropractors go to school here in Australia versus other parts of the world. It does not make one way better than the other: simply different.

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So, let's start here in Australia. To be a chiropractor requires 5 years of formal university study. The first year is basic sciences (e.g., biology, anatomy, chemistry, etc). It's pretty much the same for all medical and health fields including physiotherapy and medical science.

The next 2-3 year years focus on diagnosis and clinical skills (i.e., adjusting). If there is any difference between medical doctors and chiropractic doctors, here it is. Medical doctors learn primarily about pharmacology (i.e., how drugs and chemicals affect the physiology of the body in the treatment of disease).

Chiropractic doctors focus instead on how the adjustment of the spine affects the nervous system, which is ultimately what controls body function and healing.

The final year (5th year) sharpens the skills with clinical residencies.

It is a LOT to cover in 5 years. And like a black belt in Karate or other martial arts, the graduation from chiropractic school is really only the beginning of one's learning ... but with enough knowledge and ability that they can start to make a difference in people's lives.

In Australia, the degree is either a Bachelor's or a Master's degree, and the title "doctor" is considered honorary but earned (the same as it is with GPs.

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In the USA, it is similar but different. Before attending chiropractic school, you need at least 2 years of prior study in basic sciences (and most people have a 4-year bachelor's degree already). Then chiropractic school is a 5-year course that is typically condensed into about 3 1/3 - 3 1/2 years worth of full-time study, which includes the one-year residency. The reason for the condensation is to keep costs down (because  to study in the USA these days will cost the better part of $200,000 USD!)

Let me give you some perspective on how much study you have in chiropractic school. Formal classroom hours are 5 days a week for 6 hours each (30 hours a week). A typical normal full-time university load is around 15 hours a week because the rule of thumb is that for every 1 hour of classroom time that students should spend 2 hours studying.

So a 15-hour week would actually come to around 45 hours of actual work as a student. .... But with a 30-hour week as is the case with chiropractic school, now we're looking at around 90 hours!

Yeah, it's that much!

It's one of the reasons I feel insulted if people insinuate that chiropractors aren't "real doctors" because they didn't study medicine. If they only knew what it actually takes to make the cut, I suspect they would think very differently!

How do I choose a good chiropractor in North Lakes?

The easy thing to say would be, "I'm a good chiropractor in North Lakes. Come see me!"

BUT there are many good chiropractors in North Lakes and around Brisbane. And I have a very particular skill set and focus that may not be what you actually need! If so, I may still be good but not the right person you need.

Now, in our practice, we aim to provide the highest level of care and precision, but what I want to give you is a brief list of things for your to consider so that you can choose not just a good chiropractor in North Lakes, but more importantly the RIGHT chiropractor for you.


  • Don't choose based solely on location. Just because someone might be closer to you (or even more convenient) does not always make it a good fit. In our own case, we have many people who travel 60-90 minutes in one direction to come to our office (not because of any award-winning personalities, but simply because the service we offer is what they need, and we are the closest ones to be able to provide it).
  • Do they do any type of testing before providing care to know what you do and do not need on any given day? One of the things we hear people all the time say about other chiropractors is, "They just seem to do the exact same thing every time." When people come to our office, we don't presume in advance what you need. We perform tests first to figure out what is actually going on, and what you need on any given day. Ideally and on most days, your body is working just fine, and you don't need an adjustment. Like going to the dentist and NOT having a cavity should be normal. The tests that we do on every visit assess the function of your nervous system, and so we only ever adjust WHEN and WHERE it is indicated. And the less, THE BETTER!
  • Do they give you the opportunity to ask and answer questions? No doctor in the 21st century is beyond reproach. Nor should he or she be given blind faith. If you have any questions or concerns, your chiropractor must be willing to answer to the best of his or her ability.
  • Do you intuitively get along with them? It's quite intangible, I know, but it is important in any human relationship, including that between yourself and your healthcare provider. Do you like them as a person? And do they like you as a person? If so, your doctor can truly do their best work for you, and you are relaxed enough that their treatment is able to provide the best possible outcomes.

So, there are 4 simple things that I would consider personally if I was looking for chiropractic in North Lakes or anywhere else for that matter. 

Even if we are not the right ones for you, still feel free to send us an email message or give us a call at the office on 07 3188 9329. That way, we may be able to direct you to the right chiropractor for you.

Do doctors recommend chiropractors?

Some do, some don't.

In large part, I believe the reason does not have to do with prejudice or animosity ... maybe 50 years ago, and yes there are still medical doctors who don't refer to chiropractic doctors.

But the vast majority of the time, I believe it is because medical doctors don't understand the value of chiropractic doctors in being able to help their patients.

And do you know whose fault that is? It isn't the medical doctors! It's chiropractors!

In my opinion, chiropractic has done a remarkably poor job in expressing a unified message about the importance of the spine and the nervous system that is has allowed itself to get pigeon-holed into a position where it is seen as a pseudo-medical approach for helping people with back pain and neck pain by just cracking the joints into place.

That might be a very tiny part of it, but the depth of what chiropractic has to offer goes far deeper than that. 

The purpose of chiropractic - in its purest sense - is to facilitate the normal function of the body through the alignment fo the spine so that the nervous system can operate as free of interference as possible. When that happens, the body is better able to adapt to the stresses of the environment and also to function properly.

That means a lesser probability of injury, lesser probability of dysfunction, lesser probability of disease, etc from a principle standpoint. Who doesn't want that?

Now, this is something that is exceptionally difficult to quantity, and so in a world where everyone in the medical world is getting research, research, research shoved down their throats (and chiropractors are no exception), it is easy for us all to lose track of principles and logic.

Not only the chiropractic doctors but also the best medical doctors I have met understand that healing is a combination of principle and science. The principle is what governs our actions, and then our science is meant as a check-system to make sure that the principles that we espouse are real. If we flip them (i.e., science before principle), it is easy for us to follow proceeders blindly that will not actually take us to where we want to go.

Now, that's all a bit of a side-track, but I hope this little conversation might explain why many medical doctors still do not refer to chiropractic doctors.

In brief, we are doing different things, and there does not need to be any animosity.

Is it bad to go to the chiropractor?

Not at all!

This question is the same as, "Is it bad to go to the dentist?" The answer is, of course not! It's probably a good idea to go to the dentist if you have a tooth problem, and also for a general checkup.

However, if you got a drill on your tooth whether or not there is a cavity, now THAT is a problem.

So if I was to rephrase the question, "Is it a bad idea to get a chiropractic adjustment if you don't need one?" then THAT is a bad idea.

Think of it also like taking medication if you don't need it. 

Now, in both medical practice and ALSO chiropractic practice, it is my opinion that there is an over-prescription of care as a general rule. That does not mean that everyone is doing it. Nevertheless, I have observed many instances where people are given certain medical or health advice without the necessary tests first to confirm the diagnosis.

It is one of the reasons why I do STRONGLY recommend that no matter who your healthcare provider is that if you ever need care that you have the PROPER TESTS done in advance to know WHAT YOU ACTUALLY NEED, what you don't need, and then to know if the care you are receiving is making a difference.

So is it bad to et an "adjustment" is you don't need it? Yes. But is it a wise idea to get your spine checked by a chiropractor to know if you need an adjustment? YES.

And if so, it is up to you and your chiropractor - and NO ONE ELSE - to decide if you need care.

Does chiropractic really work?

There are two quotes about chiropractic I'd like for you to consider:

"Like gravity, chiropractic works whether you believe in it or not." - Dr. Sid Williams

"Remember that chiropractic always works. When it does not seem to, examine your application, but do not question the principle." Dr. Clarence Gonstead

I once had a lady ask me, "Is chiropractic something you have to believe in for it to work?" My answer was, "No. Chiropractic works with physical laws that you can measure." It isn't solely a matter of being touchy-feely, nor is it a matter of blind faith.

Now, I do believe very much that there is a psychological element for any human being to heal no matter what type of medical or healthcare is used. In fact, it is called the placebo effect. But this I also know to be true: chiropractic is NOT simply a matter of placebo or positive thinking or belief.

So the question, IF chiropractic doesn't work, why is that? As Dr. Gonstead says, it is not because the principle is wrong. It is because the application may not be correct.

Chiropractic is a physical skill that requires talent and practice to perform. Much like athletes, we have a wide spectrum among people who are amateurs at best to people who are just amazing healers! The same is also true in surgery, or dentistry, etc (i.e., other healing arts that require the competence of the doctor to deliver the service they provide).

Add to it that as far as the understanding of the human body has come in the last few hundred years, we are ALL still such a long way from understanding everything! As such, there are still a great many mysteries when it comes to the function and restarting of health in the human being

For this reason - not only in chiropractic, but in all disciplines of health and medical care - we follow procedures that our science and logic suggest SHOULD work, but when the put them into practice, things just don't quite work the way that we expect.

So if or when chiropractic may seem not to work, there may be more things that need to be considered.

Does Atlas Health chiropractic hurt?

Most people who receive an Atlas Health chiropractic adjustment are amazed at how light the adjustment is.

Because we do the types of tests that we do BEFORE proving an adjustment, we do NOT need to twist or crack the neck in order to adjust the neck. In fact, because we know the exact directions and degree of misalignment, we only need to use the amount of pressure that you would use to feel your pulse in order to make the correction.

The key with the adjustment is to be as quick, gentle, and light as possible for it to have the best chance of being effective.

Now, it is too uncommon after an adjustment for people to experience a few things shifting even in parts of their bodies they were NOT adjusted. For example, soreness in the shoulders, a light headache, lightheadedness, fatigue, etc.

Now, don't misunderstand me, I don't like it when people experience these things. At the same time, I know that they are not uncommon when there is a change in your muscles and nerves. 

Think of it like going to the gym for the first time in a long time. How are you going to feel afterward even if you do a good workout? Probably pretty similar!

So the Atlas Health adjustment itself is designed NOT to hurt - again, THERE IS NO TWISTING OR CRACKING THE NECK - there can still be some shifts that happen afterward as the result of your body changing.


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