The bones that make up the skull are, in health, movable and do in fact, move in a rhythmic manner throughout life. The range of this movement is small, but to the trained hand, easily felt. Since nothing in the body is without purpose, this function is reasoned as contributing to the normal running of the body. It might be argued that what is felt is no more than a resiliency, a plasticity, which would be necessary. to avoid the skull being over rigid, and thus in danger of fracturing in case of a blow. This is partly true, but does not explain the rhythmic expansion and contraction that takes place in the skull, independent of the normal respiration and heart beat.
Primary Respiratory Mechanism
Research over the past half century has demonstrated that this movement is part of a mechanism which has been named the 'primary respiratory mechanism'. This involves not only the skull bones, and their contents but, by virtue of strong fibrous tissue connections, the spinal column and the sacrum (the triangular bony structure at the base of the spine). As these structures move (much as the diaphragm and chest move in breathing, but on a much smaller scale) an important circulatory function is being carried out in the skull and throughout the body. Blood and cerebro-spinal fluid are pumped through the intricate channels surrounding the structures of the brain and the central nervous system.
It has been shown under the electron-microscope that the tissue which binds all other tissues together, the connective tissue, or fascia, of the body, has a tubular structure. The cerebro-spinal fluid permeates these structures and carries with it hormonal secretions vital to the health of the body. The most important glands in the body lie within the skull, and their ability to function is now known to be influenced by the efficiency, or otherwise, of the primary respiratory mechanism.
What does all this mean in terms of health and disease? It explains a good deal that was previously unexplained, and opens up the possibility of treating conditions that have proved untreatable or stubbornly resistant to treatment, by more conventional methods.
|Illustrates cranial manipulation aimed at restoring normal mobility between the zygomatic and the temporal bones. This treatment is extremely gentle. No force is used, only a holding of the appropriate bones whilst the patient's respiratory effort creates the corrective|
If in adult life there occur blows to the head, whiplash injuries to the neck, heavy dental extractions, blows to the base of the spine, even more subtle structural pressures resulting from new dentures, then the complex mechanism, described above, can be interfered with and a variety of symptoms, local and distant can occur. Local conditions that commonly result from this type of cause include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Meniere's disease (loss of balance), facial neuralgia, migraine and other headaches, visual disturbances, jaw dysfunction (difficulty in chewing or in opening the mouth) etc. Distant effects can include any sudden changes in the metabolism of the body which could have hormonal origins.
Treatment of Cranial Distortion in New-born Babies
A vast range of conditions have been helped by cranial osteopathy's ability to positively influence the hormonal balance. Such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fluid retention, asthma and other allergic problems have all been favourably (together with other natural methods) influenced. The most exciting and important application of this approach is, however, in the treatment of babies and children who have suffered cranial distortion before, during, or soon after birth.