The CranioSomatic Syndrome: A New Paradigm
G. Dallas Hancock, D.C., Ph.D.
The typical human body is asymmetrical in both structure and function. Contributing significantly to these asymmetries is the body’s pattern of neuromusculoskeletal compensations for the almost-universal presence of two chronic craniosacral patterns: a Right Torsion and a Left Lateral Strain. The postural compensations resulting from these two cranial patterns include both a lateral tipping of the sacrum to the right in the coronal plane and a compensatory spinal scoliosis with four opposing curves. The lumbar curve is convex to the right with a right rotation of the lumbar vertebrae. These postural compensations result in an un-level pelvis and shoulder girdle, which may produce neck and shoulder pain, low back pain, and various other symptoms.
Additionally, the Left Lateral Strain produces a shearing of both the cranium and the pelvis in the horizontal plane with the left side moving anteriorly and the right side moving posteriorly. The anterior shearing of the cranium can frequently be observed in in the close-up facial views of TV commentators and their guests. The left eye may appear slightly larger and more forward than the right.
The postural compensations for the Right Torsion and the Left Lateral Strain patterns result in global imbalances in muscle function. Manual muscle testing of 40-plus postural muscles, in the prone and supine positions, generally reveals an imbalance in paired muscles, with one testing strong (facilitated) and the other testing weak (inhibited). For example, the right Anterior Deltoid tests strong and the left tests weak; the left Gluteus Maximus tests strong and the right tests weak; the left Tensor Fasciae Latae tests strong and the right tests weak; the right Psoas tests strong and the left tests weak; the left Piriformis tests strong and the right tests weak; the right Latissimus Dorsi tests strong and the left tests weak, etc.(1)
Muscles of the eyes are also involved in this global musculoskeletal imbalance. If any strong muscle (used as an ‘indicator muscle’) is tested while the patient looks to the right (eyes only), the indicator muscle will typically weaken. If one eye is covered, the indicator muscle will also usually weaken when the uncovered eye looks superior, inferior, left, right and sometimes straight anterior. Elimination of these eye muscle dysfunctions may have an important impact on visual disorders. Muscles of the mandible are likewise involved. If the patient shifts his mandible to the right, retracts his mandible, or fully opens his mouth, the strong indicator muscle will typically weaken, indicating muscular imbalances and possibly some type of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.(1)
The chronic cranial Right Torsion and Left Lateral Strain are referred to as Primary Cranial Patterns (PCP) by Dr. Hancock(1) to emphasize that the associated neuromusculoskeletal patterns occur secondary to, and in compensation for, the cranial patterns. This designation also differentiates these chronic cranial patterns from functional, easily-corrected sphenobasilar cranial patterns that occur in coordination with the spine and pelvis as compensations for activities of daily living.
Chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists, and others use a wide variety of modalities to treat cranial, spinal, pelvic, and other compensatory neuromusculoskeletal dysfunctions. However, manual muscle testing and other evaluation procedures from Applied Kinesiology demonstrate that the chronic Right Torsion and the Left Lateral Strain patterns, as well as their compensatory neuromusculoskeletal patterns, are almost always still present in both the general and clinical populations. These findings indicate that the treatment procedures currently in general use are not effective in treating these chronic patterns.
An explanation for the failure of traditional approaches to correct these two chronic patterns may have to do with both the extent of the cranial distortions and their chronicity. Primary Cranial Patterns can be considered ‘pseudo-structural’ in the sense that the position and function of the cranial components, and the resulting chronic patterns of musculoskeletal compensation, are both long-standing and require changes to the soft tissue holding elements (sutural ligaments, dura, etc.) to release them. Both the cranial and musculoskeletal patterns can be identified in infants.(1)
The resolution of these patterns requires the application of new concepts and special treatment procedures. These include adequate force (a pound or more for some releases), and a handhold capable applying and maintaining the forces needed to release the cranial soft-tissue holding elements and mobilize the osseous cranial structures. The cranial concepts and procedures presented in CranioStructural Integration (CSI), the third workshop in our CranioSomatic Therapy series, quickly and permanently release the chronic cranial patterns. These treatment procedures can be performed in one or two sessions and do not need to be repeated.(1)
Correction of the chronic Right Torsion and the Left Lateral Strain patterns, and the elimination of their related neuromusculoskeletal compensations, noted above, may be the key to the successful resolution of several difficult-to-resolve conditions or syndromes. These two chronic cranial patterns may be the underlying etiology of De Jarnette’s chronic SOT Category 1 (pelvic torsion), Category 2 (weight-bearing sacroiliac dysfunction), and Category 3 (Psoas and Piriformis dysfunctions) described in Sacro Occipital literature.(2, 3) A functional short right leg with heel tension and a flaccid right gluteal region (Category 1 indicators) are generally found in the prone position; and positive Arm Fossa tests (Category 2 indicators) are generally found in the supine position. These Category 1 and Category 2 indicators are cleared by the CSI procedures.
The chronic Right Torsion and the Left Lateral Strain patterns may also be the underlying etiology of the Common Compensatory Pattern (CCP) described by Zink and Lawson(4) in osteopathic literature. The CCP appears to involve both of these chronic patterns. The CCP is described as having a lateral tipping of the sacrum to the right in the coronal plane and a compensatory spinal scoliosis with four opposing curves. The lumbar curve is convex to the right with a right rotation of the lumbar vertebrae. These symptoms are also cleared by the CSI procedures.
Finally, the chronic Right Torsion and Left Lateral Strain patterns, and their resulting compensatory neuromusculoskeletal patterns, could explain Willard Carver’s concept of ‘The Typical’. This pattern is described by Beatty(5) and others(6, 7) in chiropractic literature as a right sacroiliac dysfunction with a sacrum tipped and rotated to the right and a four-opposed compensatory rotational scoliosis with the lumbar convexity to the right. The cited authors considered the Typical to be universally present and uncorrectable; Beatty referred to it as the hereditary norm of mankind. The above symptoms are also cleared by the CSI procedures.
Hancock, G.D., Dissertation. A New Diagnostic Approach and Innovative Cranial Treatment Procedures for Chronic Neuromusculoskeletal Patterns: A Manual and Contextual Essay. Union Institute & University: Cincinnati, OH; 2011.
DeJarnette, M. B. Sacro Occipital Technic. Nebraska City, NE: Author; 1984.
Monk, R. Sacro Occipital Technique: SOT Manual 2006. Sparta, NC: SOTO-USA; 2006.
Zink, JG & Lawson, WB. An osteopathic structural evaluation and functional interpretation of the soma. Osteopathic Annals. 1979;7(12)
Beatty, HG. Anatomical Adjustive Techniques. 2nd ed. Denver, CO: Self-published; 1939.
Trubenbach, HL. Chiropractic Analysis (Carver). New York: H. L. Trubenbach & T. C. Peterson; 1944.
Levine, M. The Structural Approach to Chiropractic. New York: Comet Press, Inc.; 1964.