Now that you have read Pressure and More Pressure I will start speaking about the problem with pressure. The problem with anything in the human body is that there are ideal ranges and any time things occur outside of the ideal range for an extended period of time pathology begins (this is a physiological reality – by now you should understand that it is a natural reality that applies to everything). Pressure is the universal driving mechanism behind allowing a situation to stay outside of the ideal ranges for an extended period of time.
Human health is dependent on the ability to appropriately compensate for gravity to maintain proper physiological function – is the pressure component sinking in yet? When there is altered compensation at any point in the body the compression/tension relationship of local tissues will change and then the rest of the body responds to try to right the organism within gravity. The compensation for the altered compression/tension relationship in one area alters it everywhere.
The easiest way to illustrate a physiological compensation is to look at the vascular system. The blood vessels are considered a closed loop (look it up if you don’t believe me). As a closed loop that relies on pressure to move the fluid inside of them it should be very obvious that a change at any point in the closed system will alter the rest of the system. The pressure in the system is controlled by spinal nerves. You might be thinking that blood pressure is primarily under the control of the heart, not really, I already told you that if the heart beat hard enough to move blood through the whole body it would explode out of your chest. Blood pressure is controlled outside of the heart through vaso-constriction or vaso-dilation and these are based on neural control primarily in the arteries and arterioles. Now that we know the movement of blood is controlled outside of the heart we can understand that, when met with a restriction, an artery will have to contract harder to move its contents and overcome the local pressure restriction. Now we have to remember that the blood vessels are a closed loop and understand that a local increase in pressure means a global alteration in pressure…hypertension anyone?
Let me step away from specifics for a moment. I want to say again that health is based on the ability to compensate appropriately for gravity. Compression and tension are the keys to understanding this.
Now I want you to use your imagination. Imagine what would happen to someone that had a pretty pronounced bend to the right in their thoracic/dorsal spine. Consider the organs that are now under mechanical compression – the right lung, the right kidney and adrenal, the liver, the ascending colon, the right colic flexure. Now add on to that a right innominate (hip bone) that has rotated forwards which will change the environment in which the ileo-cecal junction lives as well as the right side of the pelvic bowl. The inguinal ligament (which is really the free border of the external oblique muscle) has an altered compression/tension relationship and the external iliac artery will pump harder to pass it on its way to becoming the femoral artery in the leg. We now have an area of high pressure diagonally between the pointy part of the right hip (ASIS) and the pubic symphysis. Funny enough blood does not just go down, it goes up. The blood that goes up is supposed to be in a lower pressure environment (that is why veins have valves – lower pressure and little to no direct pulse). The veins and arteries live very close together and now we have a challenge to venous return because of the high pressure around the inguinal ligament. The lymphatic drainage in the area will back up because it can not overcome the pressure. Now we have venous blood and lymphatic fluid which are stuck in the area of the hip and pelvis on the right side…we have toxins hanging out around the tissues. Toxins in any region will lead to changes in the tissues…all of a sudden we are prone to infections in the pelvic region – these can be dealt with and kept at bay by medical intervention but they are always lurking around the corner. Getting rid of chronic UTI’s or yeast infections doesn’t mean that cancer in the region is not brewing, the problem is still there.
We don’t have to stay below the belt here, the same restriction can lead to issues in the area of the ileo-cecal junction…that is appendicitis brewing. All of this can be dealt with by altering the compression/tension relationship of the tissues in the area. The hip may be the driving force behind all of this. Imagine a twisted hip and what that does to the compression/tension relationship in the area as well as how it would travel through the rest of the tissues. This is not to scare anyone as we all have varying levels of vitality and what might show up in one person will not show up in another. The idea is that poor compensation for the force of gravity sets the stage for health issues by altering the compression/tension relationship throughout the body and thus altering function (ie a muscle that is built to move us goes in to spasm to make sure we do not fall over – now it is not a muscle, it is acting like a ligament).
Now I want to end by saying it is imperative to search for the CAUSE of dysfunction. To find the CAUSE of dysfunction requires the consideration of gravity, pressure, and compression/tension relationships. The manifestations of these relationships are palpable to a thinking practitioner. The manifestations of these relationships are not the same in any 2 people. Now it is time for the Osteopathic Operator to go out, use their mind, think through the Osteopathic lesion, and deal with the CAUSE of dysfunction. The answer to all of your questions is present in the anatomy of every patient and the job is to be sharp enough to recognize it followed by dealing with it. Dr. Still said this more eloquently – Find it, Fix it, and LEAVE IT ALONE.