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  • Unblocking the Sinuses

    By Dawn Lewis

    Sinus work is something I get asked to do quite a bit at this time of year, 3 times in the past week as a matter of fact. Yesterday a client that I have been seeing for just over a year asked me if I could do anything with her sinuses. I think she asked because she was desperate, but I am not sure she expected anything to happen. It was only after the session, while she kept deep breathing through her nose and saying, “wow, I haven’t been able to breathe like that in a really long time,” that she started to tell me about her sinus issues. Apparently, her sinuses have been a problem for decades. She has had surgery, which she says did very little if anything, used sprays, neti pots, allergy pills, all with no relief.

    In the human head we have several sinuses. Each maxilla bone houses one maxillary sinus. These sit below the eyes and next to the nasal cartilage on the cheeks. The frontal bone houses two sinuses. One above each eyebrow. These sinuses begin at the medial edge of the eyebrow and continue lateral to approximately the half way point of the eyebrow. They also extend from the medial edge of the eyebrow superior toward the hairline approximately one inch. On either side of the bridge of the nose we have the sphenoid sinuses, and finally, in close proximity to the sphenoid sinuses, along each nasal bone and the superior nasal cartilage, we have the ethmoid sinuses.

    In a person whose sinuses are open and operating properly, mucus is created by the mucus membranes lining the sinuses (these membranes also line the mouth, nose, throat, lungs, and GI tract). Mucus helps keep the surfaces of these areas moist. It also traps unwanted substances in these areas of the body. Mucus is continuously produced. After doing its job, it should drain from the sinuses unnoticed down the back of the throat, or occasionally it may be blown out through the nose. When the sinuses become blocked, mucus is unable to drain properly. It builds up in the sinuses causing congestion and pressure. The sinuses are warm, moist places that allow bacteria, viruses, and fungi to grow and breed. Eventually, this can lead to a sinus infection. A sinus infection can, over time, move into the throat or brain, creating a secondary infection in these areas.

    Treatment begins with unblocking the sinuses, which leads us to the obvious question: How do the sinuses become blocked? Sometimes chronic blockages of the sinuses are caused by genetic factors such as narrow nasal passages, a facial abnormality, or a deviated septum. Other times a blockage can be caused by injuries from car accidents, sports, or falls that lead to facial trauma. For example, a broken nose can lead to blocked nasal passages and a deviated septum. Allergies and being constantly exposed to irritants can also increase mucus production and, if the sinuses are blocked, this can easily become an concern. Notice that the first step in any issue occurring is blockage of the sinuses.

    In addition to genetic factors and injuries, sinuses can become blocked because the cranial bones they are associated with have shifted slightly. For example, when I palpated next to the nasal cartilage of all 3 of the clients I worked on this week, the right and left maxillae felt uneven. How do cranial bones shift? Very easily. Cranial bones shift in response to neck tension, particularly if that tension is more on one side than the other. Cranial bones shift because of dental work or orthodontics. Cranial bones shift in response to the position of the sacral vertebrae. Cranial bones shift for these and many other reasons.

    I used Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique or SMRT to create balance in the right and left maxillae, as well as to mobilize the nasal bones. Just in these two moves, all 3 of these clients mentioned how much more open their upper respiratory system felt. For many years I have read articles about how the cranial bones have no movement and are fused in adults. This has not been my experience with clients. By using a combination of Cranial Sacral therapy and SMRT, I have personally felt the difference in the position of clients cranial bones, including all the bones that house sinuses and the bones that articulate with and effect the position of the those bones. My clients find that this work unblocks the sinuses and allows them to breathe, which, as we all know, is a wonderful thing to do.

    Full Circle will be teaching this in the SMRT: Head & Neck course several times in 2015. Our first SMRT: Head & Neck course will be in Fayetteville, AR on February 6-7, 2015. For more information or to register, please go to https://efullcircle.com/workshop-schedule/