resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
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.
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