I’ll be out of the office on Friday and Saturday this week — I’m participating in a night walking retreat at the Canyon of the Eagles Friday through Sunday. (I’ve done it before, so will miss the first day. There’s still room if you’re interested in (1) something different, (2) something relaxing, (3) removing yourself from the hustle and bustle, (4) learning a lifelong skill that you can use to relieve anxiety, (5) nature, trees, woods, water, dark skies, the beginning of the Geminid meteor shower,
I have openings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and in addition to everything else, I am offering $25 off on my Heavenly Head Massage. It’s the antidote for stress that brings relaxation like you wouldn’t believe! That discount applies to gift certificates too!
The sphenoid bone is one of the most fascinating bones in the body! If you were looking at someone and could see their bones, the sphenoid would be behind their eyes and in front of their ears, with the outermost parts (the greater wings) accessible at the temples, and the lowermost parts (the pterygoid processes) being what your internal jaw muscles attach to.
By the way, the word sphenoid comes from the Greek for wedge-shaped. Its shape has been likened to a moth, a bat, a butterfly, and a wasp.
Here’s a picture of it, as viewed from the front.
It’s a central cranial bone that does many important things:
it connects to your internal jaw muscles
muscles involved in swallowing are attached to it
it helps form the orbits of your eyes
the optic nerves meet, cross, and pass through it
your pituitary (master gland) sit on top of it (in a saddle!)
it contains two air sinuses, the sphenoidal sinuses, which open into the nasal cavity through the ethmoid bone
it has openings for major blood vessels and nerves of the head and neck
the tentorium cerebelli, part of the membranous system surrounding the central nervous system down to the sacrum, attaches to the sphenoid
The sphenoid has been called the keystone bone. It touches 12 other cranial bones: two parietals, two temporals, two zygomas, two palatines, frontal, occipital, ethmoid, and vomer.
The place where the sphenoid and occiput meet is called the sphenobasilar joint (SBJ). (The occiput is considered the base of the cranium.) You can see the SBJ in the middle of the image below where the orange and yellow bones meet.
The alignment of this joint is important. William Sutherland, DO, father of cranial osteopathy, believed that the rest of the skeletal system moves to accommodate the SBJ. If the two bones are not aligned well, it can affect the endocrine, nervous, and cardiovascular systems as well.
Misalignment of the SBJ can obviously affect other cranial bones, which fit closely together. It can contribute to TMJ pain and dysfunction.
When the SBJ is misaligned, it affects the jaw. (Remember, your internal jaw muscles attach to it.) It is also a consideration in migraines, headaches, sinus problems and allergies, pain in the head, neck, and back, scoliosis, issues with eye movements, and problems with behavior, personality, learning, coordination, hormones, and emotions.
This is how the sphenoid bone can affect the structure of the body. Craniosacral therapists pay a lot of attention to the sphenoid and can gently move it into better alignment. I like to end TMJ Relief sessions with a gentle adjustment to the sphenoid and a stillpoint to let the body integrate the new alignment.
The jaw-pelvis connection is real! When I ask my TMD (temporomandibular disorder) clients if they also have pelvic alignment issues, most of them say yes. If your pelvis is out of alignment, most often so is your jaw, and vice versa.
When receiving bodywork to get one area realigned, the other often follows. Sometimes I have one hand in your mouth and the other on your pelvis.
Here’s how that relationship works: The pelvis includes the root of the spine, your sacrum. Your jaw — mandible — is near the upper end of your spine, and it has a special relationship with C1 and C2, the uppermost vertebrae of your spine.
Because the opening/closing motion of the jaw is both hinging and gliding, the axis of rotation is not in the TMJs but is between these two vertebrae (Guzay’s theorem). When your jaw is misaligned, it affects these vertebrae, impacting spinal and head posture and neurological well-being.
How does that happen? The dura mater is a tough, inelastic membrane that lines the inside of your cranium and forms a loose sheath surrounding the spinal cord that is attached to C1, C2, and C3 and then descends all the way down to the sacrum.
When the jaw is not aligned, it torques the dura mater at the upper end of the spine, which translates all the way down to the sacrum. This torquing can cause scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis, pelvic rotation, head tilt, and cranial bone misalignment, which can affect your endocrine system and spinal nerves.
Conversely, a pelvic injury can affect the jaw. If your pelvis is giving you problems, put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your jaw. Notice if your left and right TMJs feel different or the same. You may notice one side opens first or is more restricted or otherwise moves asymmetrically. You may not have pain, however.
Maybe this is why nine times more women than men suffer from TMJ disorders. Women tend to have more issues with their pelvic floors as well as hormonal imbalances. Who knows which came first?
Coming soon: more about the relationship between the jaw and the endocrine system.
I am back in the office after several days of serving as a teaching assistant for the training in TMJ and the cranial base. This class was taught by Christian Current, who did a great job teaching this for the first time. I’ve taken this class as a student twice from Ryan Hallford since 2013. They’ve both taught me a lot.
Christian is my officemate, along with Denise Deniger, who just completed this series as a student. It was a pleasure to be able to assist him and to share time with all of these biodynamic and classical craniosacral therapy students over the past 18 months. I’m looking forward to our study/practice group!
I’m also practicing the techniques I learned in the Upledger Institute’s classical craniosacral therapy classes and am signed up for another class in mid-August.
Between these trainings and several years of practice, I can help with many mouth and jaw issues of pain and alignment.
I’ve become aware that a lot of folks simply live with “issues in these tissues” because they don’t know that help is available. A dentist may recommend wearing a mouth guard for TMJ problems, but this only protects the teeth from grinding away.
Real, lasting help means working with the muscles that hold the bones in place. Just as you can lengthen your hamstrings by holding a standing forward bend for a few minutes, a bodyworker trained in mouth work can guide the small but powerful muscles around your jaw to lengthen.
The work is gentle, slow, and precise. It should never hurt. You can signal me at any time to remove my gloved finger from your mouth.
This work can be helpful if you’ve had braces or a bridge that crosses the midline of your upper teeth. Dentists are not usually aware of the craniosacral rhythm, and braces and bridges can affect the alignment of your cranial bones.
Other reasons to seek out this work include having experienced facial or head injuries, including concussions. Curiosity is another good reason to come in!
I am running a special offer this summer: Come in for 60-minute craniosacral therapy sessions and pay $70 each. Just go to the home page and click the link to book your first appointment online. You’ll get an email confirmation, and you can opt for a text reminder the day before.
Come in for a session before it becomes a full-blown migraine.
Craniosacral therapy can stop a migraine in its tracks when treated during the prodrome period, 2-6 hours before onset. This is when you feel the aura or a premonition of a pending migraine.
How to get in quickly:
You can text me (512-507-4184) to see when my next opening is.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can call (leave a message if we haven’t worked together before — I get so much spam, I screen all calls from unknown numbers).
You can book sessions online up to 2 hours in advance if I have openings.
We still don’t always know what causes migraines: hormones, stress, dehydration, food, alcohol, weather, eye strain, noise, bright or flickering lights, or genes.
How craniosacral therapy helps: it activates the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system to help your body-mind system relax. By gently and slowly decompressing your cranial bones, you feel more spaciousness inside your head. Cranial nerves are decompressed and blood flow improves.
Craniosacral work can also help with the endocrine system (pituitary and hypothalamus), helping your hormones become more balanced.
If you regularly suffer from migraines, regular craniosacral therapy can be beneficial.