resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
May, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 05
The Controversy of Cranial Bone Movement
By Lisa Johnson Zee; guest author for John Upledger, DO, OMM
Editor's note: Dr. Upledger has asked guest author Lisa Johnson Zee to share her thoughts on cranial bone movement in this month's column.
In anatomy and physiology, I learned that cranial bones fuse in early adulthood or childhood.1 Gray's Anatomy supports the theory that the sutures grow together, creating a solid mass of bone called the calvarium. The fused skull functions as a helmet in which volume or pressure changes in blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or brain tissue cause corresponding pressure changes in other systems to prevent an increase of intracranial pressure.
However, there is a sizable body of literature that documents a small, rhythmic movement of the cranial bones. The bulk of these studies come from the cranial osteopathy medical field. The following is a synopsis of some of these studies.
Tettambel used force transducers to measure movement between the frontal bone and bilateral mastoid processes of the temporal bone in 30 subjects.2 She recorded three rhythms including the cardiac and respiratory rhythms. She hypothesized that the third pulse, which averaged eight cycles per minute, was the craniosacral rhythm.
Frymann studied the rhythmic changes in the circumference of the head using a U-shaped frame with a differential transducer.3 Changes in the diameter of the skull were measured by the displacement of metal rods. This study is unique because it measured movement in live human subjects. Frymann found a pulsating rhythm between six and eight cycles per minute separate from cardiac and respiratory rates. The amount of displacement was measured between 10 and 30 microns.
Another study by Adams, et al., looked at parietal bone mobility in cats.4 These researchers fastened strain gauges to feline parietal bones to measure movement when injections of artificial CSF were given. The bones moved significantly, varying from 17 to 70 microns. External lateral head compression caused a measurable widening of the sagittal suture with an inward rotation of the parietal bones.
Researchers at the University of Michigan College of Osteopathic Medicine have looked at cranial bone mobility in adult primates.5 Michael and Retzlaff used a direct screw attachment on the right parietal bone and measured movement with a pressure transducer. They also measured blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate. The parietal bones moved spontaneously in two distinct rhythms, one corresponding to the respiration rate and a second, slower rate of five to seven cycles per minute.
These four studies indicate cranial bones may show a slow, steady, cyclical movement. A relatively new theory for Western medical science, it represents a dramatic shift. Bringing controversial ideas into the status quo of scientific thought is not easy, but the body of literature supporting cranial movement is growing. Although inconclusive, it deserves to be approached with an open mind.
In CranioSacral Therapy (CST), the rhythm of CSF can be palpated at all parts of the body due to the passive action of fascial connective tissue. The rhythm occurs in two distinct phases: flexion (outward movement) and extension (inward movement). In physical therapy terms, flexion is a decreasing measurement of degrees in the angle of the joint. The sphenobasilar joint is where the posterior sphenoid articulates with a ridge on the occipital bone.
When Dr. William Garner Sutherland, the "father of osteopathy," palpated the movement of these bones, he noticed this joint does indeed flex or reduce angle size on the inferior side. The flexion of this angle is accompanied by subtle outward movement in the body, which Sutherland called flexion. Therefore, in CST, the cranium, along with the rest of the body, is in flexion when it widens and in extension when it narrows.
Anatomy of Suture Closure
To discover more about cranial bone motion, let's examine the nature of cranial sutures. If the sutures remain flexible throughout adulthood, some degree of motion is possible when driven by pressure changes in the craniosacral system. If the tissues fuse and become immobile, rhythmic motion is unlikely.
Several studies have examined the nature of the cranial sutures. Retzlaff, et al.,used light and scanning microscopy to examine tissue samples of adult primate sutures.6 They found connective tissue, blood vessels and nerve fibers present in the sutural space. They described a five-layered pattern of fibers and cells containing collagenous bundles. Tissue was reported to be arranged in a wavy pattern. The researchers hypothesized the purpose of the tissue might be to control the elongation of the collagen bundles. They reported no evidence of fusion in the adult primate sutures.
In a separate study, Upledger and Retzlaff examined the sagittal suture in primate skulls.7 They found not only connective tissue, but also a vascular network and neuronal plexuses and receptors in sutural tissue. In one specimen, they were able to trace a single dendrite through the dural membrane into the brain, terminating in the third ventricle containing CSF. Further study of this neural tract may bring answers to how the homeostatic feedback mechanism in the brain's CSF hydraulic system functions.
In the 1920s, Todd and Lyon published two articles examining a timeline of sutural closure in the male human skull.8 These researchers hypothesized that cranial sutures fuse at some point in the human lifetime. They started with 427 specimens, but rejected 81 due to abnormal suture closure or "delayed union." Furthermore, some of the skulls were termed lapsed union, which meant failure of the suture to close due to a concentration of bone along the edge of the articulatory surface. For reasons unclear, they counted these skulls as fused, which biased results toward earlier suture closure. The data they found is as follows:
The authors concluded that the sutures tend to close along this timeline. However, there is a high degree of variability reported. This study also was conducted some 80 years ago. Standards of protocol in scientific research have changed.
Researchers have studied one suture in-depth using different human specimens. Kokich examined one suture in the facial area - the frontozygomatic suture.9 Of his 61 specimens, he found none demonstrated closure until after age 80, and some weren't completely fused even after age 90. He noted that bony interdigitations formed along the suture with advancing age, but did not affect the patency of sutural movement. Kokich, like Retzlaff and Upledger, found clear evidence of collagen fibers within the suture. He stated that frontozygomatic suture remains a functioning "articulation" until late in life.
A conclusive statement about whether and when sutural fusion occurs cannot be made from existing research.10 Clearly the subject remains open for debate. Having palpated the craniosacral rhythm with my own hands, I believe cranial sutures maintain flexibility that might best be called articulation. This flexibility allows the bones to move passively as they are driven by the craniosacral system.
Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.
Lisa Johnson Zee is a clinical supervisor and instructor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is certified in CranioSacral Therapy Techniques through The Upledger Institute. Her other interests include complementary and alternative medicine, traumatic brain injury and bilingual Spanish/English therapy.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.