Bill was a 56 year old businessman who suffered periodically from severe pain in his chest and difficulty in breathing. He had been rushed to the emergency room many times, and had been fully investigated by his doctors who were unable to find any definite cause for his pain or breathlessness. This went on for more than 5 years and Bill became depressed and very neurotic about his health. In desperation he had an angiogram but it failed to reveal any problem with his arteries. However his pain persisted. Bill came to see me, I listened to his history, examined him and reviewed all his investigations, and like his cardiologist was unable to find a problem with his heart. I found on my examination that he had tenderness over 3 of his ribs which were displaced from their normal position, a spasm in the diaphragm as well as a hiatus hernia. These problems were probably causing his pain! I treated Bill with osteopathy to relax the diaphragm and replaced the ribs in their correct position. I treated the hiatus hernia by gently massaging it back into the abdomen. I advised about correct dietary habits, so he would not get gas which could a cause a recurrence of the hernia. Bill's pain disappeared and has not recurred over the last sixteen years.
Many people do suffer from problems for which conventional medicine has yet to find causes or offer effective answers. This is an example of a problem which can be treated effectively by techniques like osteopathy which are very effective but not yet a part of mainstream medicine.
Our body consists of a bony skeleton, made from 206 bones. This skeleton made up from so many different bones gives our body its great manoeuvrability and flexibility. Each bone is connected to at least one other bone and usually to 2 or 3 other bones at a joint. A joint is flexible coupling between 2 or more bones which allows a definite range of movement. Joints are flexible but not strong while long bones like the femur (thigh bone) are strong but not flexible. Nature has allocated us different areas of strength & flexibility according to the function of each part of the body. The bones are covered with muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia which hold it together and allow it, its large and delicate range of movements.
When we have a fall, our joints bend to absorb the impact of the fall. If the force of the fall is too great then the bones forming that joint may dislocate from their normal position in an attempt to absorb the impact. If the impact of the fall is more than what the body can absorb then a bone may break or fracture. The commonest joint which dislocates in the body is the ankle. When our foot twists, the ankle dislocates and we say our ankle is sprained. Usually the body is able to correct the dislocation over a few days and the pain resolves. However if the body is unable to correct the dislocation the pain persists, and you tend to walk with more weight on the normal leg to reduce the pain. This leds to greater strain on the normal leg causing a twist in the pelvis to compensate for the uneven weight bearing. The knee on the affected leg also adjusts to try and compensate for the pain. In this process the knee can become unstable resulting in knee pain. The body may also try to adjust from the hip, pelvis or lower back leading to pain and problems in these areas.
Similarly when we trip and fall forward, we try and break the impact of the fall with our hands. When we do, this there is first a displacement of the joints at the wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck in that order depending on the intensity of the fall and only if the body is unable to dissipate the intensity of the fall does a bone break. These falls are often soon forgotten as the pain recedes, but the dislocations caused by these falls may persist for years, initially causing mild discomfort which increasesand reduces over the years as the body tries to correct or compensate for the injury.
The body is usually able to correct these displacement without treatment, and it recovers within a few days. In some cases unfortunately this does not happen and pain and discomfort persist in the joint. Since conventional medical treatment does not address these issues, these problems persist and you learn to live with the pain and discomfort. A common complaint I hear with these problems is "Dr., I have a weak wrist." The after effects of a fall on the hands may manifest as tennis or golfers elbow, frozen shoulder or a wry neck which may persist for years. Anyone who has a fall, especially with fractures should consult an osteopath whenever the opportunity arises. The osteopath can align the misaligned joint and allow a return to better and pain free function. Any persistent pain which has not resolved in a few months may point to a dislocation which needs treatment. Pain is the body's way of telling you that it has a problem which needs treatment, to warn you that the painful area is weak and that you should not strain or stress it.
Sudden unexpected jerks are very liable to cause injuries. A common injury of this type, is when your car is hit from the back without you anticipating it, your neck is jerked forward causing what is known as a whiplash injury. At this time the neck vertebrae can move from their normal alignment, which causes neck pain and headaches which gradually spreads to the arms. This can be treated effectively by realigning the neck. If this is neglected and not treated it develops into cervical Spondylosis or arthritis of the cervical spine.
This is also the treatment of choice in many sports related injuries like dislocated knee cartilages, tennis elbow, ankle sprains and frozen or painful shoulders. These can easily be persuaded to return to their normal position with osteopathic techniques within minutes. Muscle spasms often accompany spine and joint injuries and the therapist relaxes these using integrated techniques like acupuncture, laser therapy, ultrasound and massage wherever necessary to allow a smooth return to normal function.
The series of photographs below show the treatment of a 68 year old lady with painful Osteoarthritis with a Misalignment of the left Knee. As she was unable to walk even 50 metres without severe pain, she had been advised total knee replacement of the left knee. As she was reluctant for surgery she came to consult me. Her knee was aligned over 5 sessions spread over 12 days. The first picture on day 1 shows an angle of 30 degrees between the thigh & calf. The first photo shows the leg dark & congested which has improved as the knee has been aligned and blood circulation restored.
The second picture on day 3 shows an angle of 20 degrees between the thigh and calf and there has been a 40% reduction in her pain.
The picture on day 7 shows an angle of 15 degrees between the thigh & calf and she reported still further improvement in her pain. She was able to walk 150 metres until she had to stop because of the pain.
The picture on day 10 shows an angle of 5 degrees between the thigh and calf. She reported that more than 80% of her pain has gone and she is now able to walk 300 metres after which some pain recurs. She is very encouraged by her improvement and even her sceptical husband is convinced enough to accompany her for the treatment.
This final picture on day 12 below shows that the knee has been completely straightened without surgery. The lady is now pain free and able to walk 500 metres without pain.
On her follow up visit a year later she reported was still pain free and taking her dog for an hour's walk every morning. This series of pictures is a clear example of how misaligned joints can be corrected, without surgery with excellent results.
Cranio sacral Therapy
The skull consists of 29 individual bones which form a cage to protect and support the brain, eyes, ears and other sensory organs. Each bone is connected to the adjoining bones at a joint called a cranial suture. Any unexpected jerk or impact can disturb the alignment of the skull bones setting off a chain of events which can lead to many problems later in life. Displacement at these joints can cause pressure on the brain and on cranial nerves which supply the eyes, ears, face, nose and mouth. These nerves emerge through tiny holes between and in these bones and any misalignment exerts pressure on them which may cause problems in the organs supplied by that nerve.
These problems include allergic rhinitis, deviated nasal septum, migraine, sinusitis, snoring, loss of smell, vertigo, tinnitus, Meniere's disease, facial (Bell's) palsy, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Autism, cerebral palsy microcephaly, dyslexia, poor co-ordination, crowding and misalignment of the teeth, facial asymmetry, squints, nystagmus, eyestrain, diminished vision and headaches.
As these problems result from the displacement and misalignment of the skull bones, the rational treatment is to realign and replace them in their normal position.
An effective technique for doing this is called cranio sacral therapy or craniosacral osteopathy. This refers to techniques used to align the bones of the skull and lower spine. This is a very specialized technique which requires very high levels of learning, understanding of the human body, and the ability and patience to feel the oscillations of the bones. It is the Rolls Royce of Manipulative techniques. It is a high skill process and has very few effective practitioners worldwide. Many Neurological conditions show improvement with craniosacral therapy done by skilled practitioner..
The idea of manipulating the bones of the skull seems strange to many people, yet it is a potent, safe and highly effective form of treatment. It is useful in treating headaches due to many causes including migraine, whiplash injuries, the after effects of concussion and some types of convulsions. Cranial (skull) abnormalities are often associated with problems in the spine so the therapist normally treats them simultaneously. An example is sinusitis which is often associated with back or neck pain. All of these can be treated with cranio sacral therapy resulting in an improvement in the patient's health. Cranio sacral therapy is the treatment of choice in many neurological ailments.
Problems in the neck are often associated with problems in the lower back and those in the upper back with the sacrum.
Dislocation of the coccyx (tailbone) can cause pain at the tailbone area which makes sitting very painful & difficult. In addition as the body tries to compensate for this problem it can cause many other problems including headaches, cold feet, loss of sensation in the feet, impotence, frequency of urination. Injuries to the sacrum (lower end of the spine) and coccyx (tailbone) can cause pelvic disturbances like uterine and prostatic malfunction, pain or numbness in the soles of the feet, bowel disturbances, obstruction to evacuation, dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), incontinence, allergies, asthma, poor eyesight, headaches and nausea. These problems respond well to craniosacral treatment and are often the only effective answer.
Cranio sacral techniques are the treatment of choice for backaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and sciatica. Many people suffering from loss of strength in their arms, legs or tingling or numbness in these areas can be safely and quickly treated with this method with good results.
Cranio sacral therapy is a very precise scientific method for realigning bones which have been misplaced. This process works with the body to relax muscles which are tight and then works with the body to correct the problem. In cranio sacral therapy gentle pressure is applied over misaligned bones and tight muscle or fascia, which relax and glide into place as the person breathes. The patient lies on a bed while the therapist gently exerts pressure on various parts of the body as required. This is a very sophisticated process which acts by allowing your body restore the normal alignment of the different bones and body structures rather than attempting to force them back to place as in some techniques of manipulation.
Cranio sacral therapy is a gentle and painless procedure which yields excellent results in expert hands. The treatment takes between fifteen to thirty minutes and is usually repeated at intervals of 3-10 days till the skull and spine are perfectly aligned. The whole spine and skull are treated at each session as the spine and skull act functionally as one integral whole in spite of the fact that they are anatomically made up from many different bones. No force is used in the process of alignment and no jerking or "clicking" of the spine takes place. The patient's spine is positioned in different ways to allow the misaligned segments of the spine to realign themselves into their normal position as the patient breathes. These techniques known as position and hold techniques as the process of alignment proceeds through the physiological movements which occur as we breathe. This makes it suitable for use even in patient's with a severe neurological deficit as the entire process can be carefully and exactly controlled.
Some children delivered with the help of a forceps develop a squint, cerebral palsy, dyslexia or even mental retardation because of the force applied to the soft skull of the baby. Misalignment of the facial and skull bones is common in children delivered by Caesarean section as the normal moulding of the skull during birth does not occur. They may then be prone to some of the problems mentioned above. All children born with the help of forceps, vacuum delivery or caesarean section should be reviewed by a cranial osteopath in the first few weeks of life especially if the skull looks deformed in any way.
Conditions caused due to deformation of the skull respond well to treatment, with best results when the baby is brought for treatment within the first few weeks of life. If your baby has dents or deformation of the skull early treatment from a competent cranial osteopath can give your child the hope of a normal life.
A 6 month old baby was brought to see me 5 years ago. He had been delivered with the help of a vacuum when an inexperienced midwife had pulled out the baby. This led to the back of the skull being compressed and when I saw the baby the skull was triangular shaped instead of being round as is normal in people. The child was unable to see, had difficulty in feeding and was lying totally without movement.
The baby underwent cranio sacral treatment at my clinic at intervals till the age of 3 years. He recovered, he was able to walk and run, and a few months ago the ophthalmologist examined the child who now attends a normal school & certified that the vision was perfect. For this child the treatment gave him a life and freedom both for himself and his family.
Improvement is also possible many years later with treatment, but complete recovery is rare when treatment is started late.
It is estimated that Dyslexia affects almost 10 % of the population, and signifies incomplete communication between different areas in the brain. This often manifests as a person with excellent verbal skills but poor written skills or vice versa. Very often a teacher may tell the parents that your son is very clever but he is lazy, as his written work is bad. This is a common symptom with dyslexia and often responds well to treatment at any age.
After the treatment is over the patient is asked to return for periodic reviews at gradually increasing intervals for twoto three years till the therapist is satisfied that the misaligned bones have returned and remained in their normal position. If any fine alignments are required they are done at these follow up sessions.
After the treatment, the bones usually stabilize in their correct position unless the person suffers a fall, accident, or an unexpected jerk or impact. Any of these events may again upset the alignment of the bones of our skeleton. Patients are advised to return to consult the therapist if any of these events occurs, as the therapist can usually detect any misalignment long (many years) before it causes the patient to have a problem. This can be easily corrected, preventing any long term damage to the body long before symptoms have had time to develop.
Most patients leave the clinic feeling calm and relaxed after the treatment. Usually the problem improves immediately, but occasionally there may be a slight aggravation of the problem which resolves spontaneously within seventy two hours.
When all parts of the body are properly aligned and balanced a state of equilibrium exists in which our body is best able to handle the stress and strain of our daily lives.