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The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
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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