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Bluegrass Doctors of

Physical Therapy, PLLC

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Cranial Compliance and its Role In Chronic Pain

Posted on September 18, 2021 at 3:25 PM

Cranial Compliance and its Role In Chronic Pain


Since I began my journey into the world of healthcare I was taught very early on that the cranial bones were made of multple synarthrotic (fibrous immoveable) joints that fuse in early adulthood. New evidence is now emerging stating that there may be more movement in the cranial bones than originally thought. These joints are not highly moveable like, our shoulder or wrist, however there has been some postulations that the cranial joints can move up to 5mm in a healthy adult. We call this movement "compliance". This is to differentiate this type of movement from other joints of the body. We have been noticing that if we lack cranial compliance then we can see outward changes in head and neck pain. Lack of cranial compliance can be brought on by head trauma, repeated sinus, and ear infections, repeated bouts of deep scuba diving, going to high altitude excessively, as well as genetic faults. The lack of compliance results in the skulls inability to adapt to changes in the neurocranium (the top part of our head) as well as the visceral cranial (from the nose down to the chin). There are many nerves that run through holes in the skull bones that cause various functions in our head and neck as well as in our trunk. We are also starting to see a correlation between people who have craniofacial dysfunction and gut dysfunction. This is (as for now) believed to be due to vagus nerve disruptions, possibly from a mechanical interface deficit at the Jugular foramen (hole) which is formed in front of the petrosal bone and temporal bone/ occipital bone interface. If these two bones ( we differentiate the petrosa and temporal bones in the clinic) as well as the occipital bones do not have enough movement they can influence faulty vagus nerve activity which can lead to gut dysfunction. This area of study is still emerging and is very exciting as cranial techniques can help alleivate not only head and neck pain but possibly gut pain as well.  

Categories: Manipulative Therapy, TMJ Relief, Headache, Tension Relief

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