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Face, Jaw and Head Conditions

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Cranial Functional Manual Medicine

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy was termed by a 19th-century physician, Andrew Taylor Still, who aspired to the preventative treatment of disease. Within the United States, physicians who practice osteopathy are classified as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).  Several health care professionals, including physical therapists and dentists,  incorporate osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) techniques into their care, which is a type of complementary and alternative medicine and primarily consists of moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.  Physical therapists are trained in the treatment as Functional Manual Medicine (FMM).

The physical therapists at PhysioPartners Renaissance CranioFacial Group have been trained by the Doctors of Osteopathy of the Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine.  These treatments are consistently utilized the the treatment of the head and neck and in treating the patient as a whole.  Our background in retraining movement patterns and strengthening also helps patients retain positive changes experienced following FMM treatment.

How Can Cranial Functional Manual Medicine (CFMM) Help Me?

CFMM can influence multiple systems of the body such as the nervous, musculoskeletal and lymphatic systems.

CFMM for the head and spine can be an important part of treatment for:

  • Headaches, migraines
  • Concussion trauma
  • TMJ disorders
  • Tinnitus
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Vertigo
  • Neck and low back pain
  • Pelvic asymmetry
  • Balance disorders
  • Infant plagiocephaly (misshappen heads)
  • Pinched nerves, sciatica
  • Chronics issues such as fibromyalgia
  • Ribs feeling "out of place"

What Does CFMM Feel Like?

CFMM usually involves the placement of the practitioner’s hands on the patient’s head. Tolerable pressure is used to mobilize the cranial bones, the dural membranes, and optimize the flow of cerebral fluid. The treatment is soothing and relaxing to patients. Occasionally patients report feeling sleepy afterward, which is a normal response. 

Citation From the Osteopathic Cranial Academy Site:

The principles of osteopathic medicine are core to the practice of osteopathy in the cranial field.

1) The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit. This unity encompasses the complex interrelationships of all physiologic function. The fundamental difference between osteopathic and conventional training is this focus on unity of the organism, as opposed to breaking the body down into separate parts. Unity also provides a definition of health, in which all functions of the body are synchronized, coherent, and fully expressed.

2) The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance. The emphasis on self-regulation and healing is essential to the manual practice of osteopathic medicine, because medical treatment can then be oriented toward utilizing, supporting and helping to restore the mechanisms of self-regulation.

Dr. Jennifer Hobson has trained in CranioSacral Therapy through the Upledger Institute.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger following studies from 1975 to 1983 at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and professor of biomechanics.

CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system – comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.

By complementing the body’s natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including:

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Colic
  • Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems
  • Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
  • Post-Surgical Dysfunction

Can Cranial FMM Help my Baby’s Head Shape?

Yes.  A baby born with an asymmetrical head may respond well to gentle manual therapy. Restoring proper  movement of the cranial bones and spine helps promote symmetry of the musculoskeletal system, which helps the body move most efficiently and influences the growing skull. CFMM is best administered between birth and 24 month of age for optimal results. Babies receiving helmet therapy also benefit, as the manual therapy facilitates the re-shaping process and can mean less total time in the helmet.

What Else Can CFMM and CST Do for My Baby?

Many patients find CFMM treatment improves mobility and development.  It can be very helpful for lactating mothers, pregnant women and children.  CFMM is particularly useful for babies with:

  • Infant’s plagiocephaly (misshapen heads)
  • Torticollis
  • Colic and reflux issues

How Can CMFF, CST and Body Work Help My Infant?

Whether delivered vaginally or via C-section, the infant’s head and body may experience compression from being in the womb and the process of delivery.  The infant’s cranium and skeletal structure may undergo a large amount of compression during this process.  Many infants benefit from CFMM and CST to promote skeletal alignment and optimize the nervous system after birth.  This type of treatment is very gentle and is performed by highly skilled physical therapist.  The goal is to promote an optimal position for growth and development.

Is it Important to Check the Oral Cavity, Palate and Tongue of My Infant?

Some infants have difficulty with nursing at the beginning of their life. They may have a lip-tie or tongue-tie issue that could be restricting them from creating the proper mouth seal around the mother’s breast. Many infants have limited length of the connective tissue attachments of their lips and tongue, causing a superficial latch and improper sucking habits that can cause breast and nipple pain, but may also cause the infant to not be able to extract sufficient breast milk. Medical research supports the idea that the infant’s mouth shape and function starts through proper nursing, which develops the palate shape and size and also strengthens the surrounding muscles.

Bottle feeding requires little effort by the infant, which can slow the development of suck and swallow and may impact the development of mouth and facial structures.  As the child grows, poor positioning of the tongue in the mouth or improper swallow may become evident as demonstrated by mouth open posture, high narrow palate, recessed jaw, narrowed face, bent nose/deviated septum, slouched posture, asymmetrical face with one eye/ear lower, and dark circles under the eyes.

Cranial Osteopathic Case Study:

  • L. Martin seen at age 2.5 weeks came for a second opinion tongue-tie.  Mom had reported difficult and painful nursing and a very fussy baby.  Dr. Hobson observed the tongue and lip-tie restriction and taught mom how to prepare for a successful frenectomy procedure. 
  • Mom was taught intra-oral soft tissue gentle stretching of the lips, tongue and cheeks to perform prior to the procedure and later after the procedure to prevent re-attachments.
  • Mom brought in baby for a total of 4 sessions of post-frenectomy intra-oral gentle manual stretching to maintain good flexibility of the soft tissues and prevent re-attachment.
  • The 4 sessions also included CFMM to mobilize the baby’s fascia and cranium.

How Can CFMM and CST Optimize My ALF or Palatal Expansion Therapy?

CFMM and CST can help the bones of the cranium, mouth and body adjust to the changes occurring through palatal expansion dental treatment.  This can be helpful as an adjunct treatment for Advanced Lightwire Functional appliances and the specialized therapists of PhysioPartners Renaissance CranioFacial Group are able to perform this technique.

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