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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1990 Mar-Apr;13(3):157-60.

A chiropractic perspective on atlantoaxial instability in Down's syndrome.


The purpose of this paper is to review the current information on atlantoaxial instability in Down's syndrome. There are potentially fatal consequences to performing adjustive manipulation to the cervical spine of the Down's patient. Atlantoaxial subluxation can cause death. Up to 50% of those suffering from atlantoaxial instability have it due to anomalous axis formation and/or agenesis or laxity of the transverse ligament. Trauma or progressive anterior displacement of atlas may cause serious neurological complications. The standard treatment for atlantoaxial instability is surgical fusion of the upper cervical spine. Conservative chiropractic care is suggested as a possible alternative in some cases. Standards for adjusting patients suffering from Down's syndrome have not been established. However, guidelines reviewed in this paper may indicate when adjusting may be hazardous. Potential protocol for the evaluation and diagnosis of atlantoaxial instability are suggested.

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