This week we are going to discuss a specific treatment type for trauma to the head and neck which results in headaches, neck pain, jaw pain and facial pain. When a patient is subjected to the accelerating or decelerating force of say, a car accident, the head and neck can take many many G’s of force damaging structures in the face, head and neck. One of the most common but often overlooked problems resulting from skull trauma is the cranial suture injury.
Cranial suture injuries occur when the skull is thrown against an immovable object such as a dashboard, subjecting the skull to forces well beyond its tolerance. Patients suffering headaches long after their injury sometimes are suffering from cranial suture dysfunction. Cranial suture dysfunction is a condition much like spinal joint dysfunction in which the joints of the skull (the cranial sutures where the bones are joined together) become immobile, hypomobile (less than mobile), or in some cases hypermobile. The trauma to the head is such that, unless treated, these patients can go on having headaches, jaw pain and facial pain forever.
Correct diagnosis and treatment of the cranial mandibular system require the therapist or practitioner to have knowledge of the specific movements and locations of these cranial sutures. A cranial suture is very much like a spinal joint in which it can become locked and dysfunctional. Therefore, unlocking or freeing the motion of the joint of the skull can relieve headaches, alleviate jaw pain and even decrease pressure in the skull.
There are many techniques to treat the sutures of the skull and some of them have interesting names like the paper lantern, the wobbly wheel, and sphenobasilar flexion and extension. Other techniques have direct names such as the sphenoparietal suture mobilization. This describes the specific joint being treated. If the therapist is able to identify dysfunctional joints within the skull, often the patient can benefit from specific treatment of these cranial sutures. This involves applying pressure to the skull in specific directions which can relieve pain and pressure almost instantly. When the correct joints are identified the patients can be taught to self-treat these joints and increase the frequency of relief more than just having relief when an appointment with the practitioner is scheduled.
I very much like the fact that these techniques are easy and that patients can be taught to self-treat. As you can see, direct cranial mobilization is a technique that is direct, that is to say, caused by applying direct pressure and is moving the joints of the skull. For more information on direct cranial mobilization and how it might you’re your headaches, do not hesitate to contact the clinic for a no-cost consultation.