Documentation of Scanning Palpation at the
Occiput, Atlas and Axis Area

Roy W. Sweat, D.C.


C-1 and C-2 spinal nerves are unique in their peripheral distribution. They do not travel through an intervertebral foramen. They are associated with diarthrodial (freely movable) joints. The occipital condyles and the superior atlas facets are synovial joints and have no intervertebral discs. The inferior atlas facets and the superior axis facets are synovial joints and have no intervertebral discs. This area has the greatest range of spinal motion. The remaining vertebral bodies from the axis down to the first sacral articulation are united by intervertebral discs and are classified as symphyses.
The spinal nerves are formed by the union of ventral and dorsal spinal nerve roots which are attached in series to the side of the spinal cord. There are 31 pairs of these nerves grouped as follows: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, 1 coccygeal.

"The course of the first two spinal nerves runs dorsally to the intervertebral joints while all others leave the foramina intervertebralia in front of the articular processes." (Detlef von Torklus and Walter Gehle.)

"The absence of posterior articulations between the head and atlas and between the atlas and axis leaves the first two nerves without actual intervertebral foramina." (Ruth Jackson.)

In the atlas orthogonal program the scanning palpation correlates with the supine leg check to determine when to adjust and when not to adjust the patient. When the scanning palpation is positive in the C-1 and C-2 area it relates to direct neurological insult or neurological insult with resultant trigger point. When the scanning palpation is positive from C-3 to C-7 it relates to muscle spasms, contractions, trigger points, and posterior zygapophyseal joint compression. The doctor of chiropractic is extensively trained and is a specialist in this important science of scanning palpation examination.