WHAT IS CRANIOPATHY?
Craniopathy goes by many names and there are many different schools, or types of cranial work. The most common of which is an energy type of treatment done by massage therapists called cranial sacral, or craniosacral massage where the practitioner follows a ten step protocol aimed at a more energetic type of response. The work done at our office is much more in depth and structural in nature, and is performed by doctors that have a deep understanding of the mechanisms and physiology involved.
Craniopathy is the study and clinical application of the anatomy and physiology of the cranium and nervous system and its inter-relationship with the body as a whole. It may be applied for the prevention and treatment of disease or the enhancement of health, and involves assessing the 26 moveable joints that make up the skull/cranium, as well as the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord- the dura. Yes, I said MOVEABLE joints! These joints in the skull obviously don’t move like the joints in our arm, but they have a slight give, they flex and extend. That flexion and extension plays a vital role in keeping our spinal cord and nervous system healthy by maintaing cerebrospinal fluid (csf) pressure and flow.
These joints in the skull, or sutures, are assessed in terms of their neurological relationship with the rest of the spine, sacrum, and body as a whole. Since the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system, establishing a healthy “house” for these structures is vital in maintaing and improving one’s overall health and well-being. Cranial work can have profound affects on virtually any other system in the body given that the central nervous system controls all other systems. For more a more detailed description, click here.
So how does it work?
The dura (covering of your spinal cord and brain) has the consistency of leather and is unable to stretch. Because it cannot stretch, when this areas becomes stressed the dura pulls on its attachment points in the cranium itself as well as the sacrum. When we experience stress our dura will naturally go into a twist, this is a normal sympathetic response to stress produced by our nervous system. If you can picture a boxer or a sprinter at the start of a race, they are always in a “ready” stance with the body in a slight twist. When we go home at night after a long day at work, what do we say? “I need to go home and unwind.” This is a normal response, however it can become increasingly difficult for our body to get out of this twist if the sympathetic stimulus is prolonged or too profound, or if the sacro iliac joints (SI Joints) aren’t able to bear the load of the body. When the dura gets stuck in a twist it puts pressure on the central nervous system, which can manifest into a variety of symptoms.
How is it treated?
The dura (covering of your spinal cord) has attachment points at the base of your spine (sacrum) and goes all the way up, surrounds your brain, and attaches to the sutures in your skull (the little joints that can be seen on skulls). If you can picture a belt being held from both ends, then applying a twist from both ends, you can imagine that the twist would run the entire length of the belt. With regular chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, PT and other modalities they attempt to untwist this “belt” from the middle, either through popping joints or stretching/exercising muscles. This results in some temporary improvement at best, but you can understand why it is merely a short term fix, since the belt would quickly rebound back into the twisted position. The only way to take the twist out of the dura, or the belt in this case, is to take the pressure off of both ends. In doing so, the middle tends to unwind on its own. By taking the twist out of the sacrum and pelvis, and taking the twist out of the cranium, the dura can go back to neutral. When the dura goes back to neutral the tension in surrounding joints, muscles, and organs will also resolve.