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  • Working the Head and Face

    Written by Dawn Lewis

    I am going to say something radical.  The bones in the head and face are not, I repeat, not fused in adult humans.  I know that is the common wisdom in western medicine.  I believe that this is because medical professionals do not work directly with the head and face.  Why do I believe the cranial bones are not fused?  Because I work directly with the head and face.

    Now, before someone screams about scope of practice, think about the fact that massage therapists have been doing cranial sacral work for decades or that there are entire modalities devoted to orthopedic massage.  We recognize that understanding the bones and joints is crucial to muscle therapy.  Segmenting treatments because practitioners want to specialize in one tissue or another (i.e. bone vs muscle vs fascia) is crazy.  These tissues all work together.


    The head and face are generally neglected in most disciplines.  Practitioners have decided that nothing can be done with head and face, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am going to describe in detail several of the clients I have had in the last six months with headache issues and their outcomes.


    First, client A presented with a full thoracic and lumbar set of rods with extra hardware due to surgical complications in the past.  She was experiencing chronic, consistent migraines and took multiple drugs to deal with the pain.  The pain was rarely, if ever, alleviated.  In six months, I have worked on her 12 times, 5 of these sessions were focused on her head, face, and neck.  Every bone in her head was shifted into an unnatural position.  Even though cranial bones have minimal movement, the movement they do have can cause issues.  I assessed and then worked almost every bone (I did not directly work the vomer, lacrimal, or ethmoid bones) in her head and face.  SMRT work for the face and head has light to medium pressure and is specific to the assessment.  When she came out of my office, her entire face looked different.  By our next session, she reported having only 1 headache, which was a miracle for her.  Six months from that first session, she was going weeks without a headache and had gotten a job.


    Second, client B is an RN who did not believe I could do anything for her headaches because she believes the cranial bones are fused but she is desperate enough to see me after being referred for years.  Client B had been having daily headaches for years and had seen every medical professional available to her without results.  When she came to see me, she was extremely negative about the possibilities of SMRT working for her.  Her issue involved the delicate alignment balance between the sphenoid, occiput, maxillas, palatines, and zygomatic bones.  When we finished her first session, she did not have a headache, which confused her.  She resisted coming back and did not call me for a month.  She had not had a headache for three and a half weeks, longer than she had been without a headache for years.  The results she had with SMRT challenged her beliefs so she only comes when she is in crisis, which is less and less often with time.


    Third, client C had pain in her left upper jaw that was assumed to be a tooth infection.  She was on her third round of antibiotics.  The issue was at her zygomaticomaxillary sutures and involved the alignment and mobility of her temporal bones.  Fourth, client D has had two sinus surgeries and he still cannot breathe.  His issue was a frontal bone shift that had effected the delicate balance between the parietal bones, the occiput, the frontal bone, and the nasal bones.  Fifth, client E was on his fourth round of antibiotics in six months for sinus infections.  His issue was a shifted sphenoid due to an atlantooccipital imbalance caused by tension at his right occipitomastoid suture.  In each case, SMRT allowed for significant symptom relief in one to six sessions.


    As I said before, head and face work is largely ignored by most practitioners.  Many, many people spend years suffering because they cannot find anyone who understands how to do detailed head and face work.  I think it is time for that to change.