The Fulcrum of Health
Each time I am out riding my bicycle I am observant of the beauty of nature that surrounds me. Occasionally, I happen upon a chance encounter with a deer who seems cautiously startled by my appearance. Wild deer are amazing creatures that appear gentle, graceful, and harmonious with their natural surroundings. Believe it or not a similar experience happens for me during each visit with a patient. As I listen to a what a person's body is trying to tell me during the physical examination and during an osteopathic treatment their body expresses grace and harmony through its function. And by listening to a person's body at that level I experience the same humbling feeling of being observant of nature.
The discoverer of osteopathic cranial manual medicine (OCMM), William Garner Sutherland, DO, use to say; "You are getting back to Cause: if you understand the Mechanism, your technique is simple." I recently reviewed these words while perusing my library looking for something else. And, unique to this moment in my life I have been considering the meaning of what it is to be "Osteopathic." The conclusion that I have drawn is that an osteopathic physician will always try to be a receptive listener and ponderer of what is being communicated. When engaged in a physical examination or osteopathic treatment I am always exploring and listening to what the body is trying to tell me. The success of the treatment, regardless of the method utilized, depends upon my receptive abilities.
I've told people for years that when I am listening to the cranial mechanism it is like listening to a butterfly while its flying. It is like a miracle that one who is appropriately trained witnesses whenever they employ such skills. Scientists have measured and confirmed the motion and it is so slight that it is miraculous that one should have ever identified such a motion. None-the-less, the cranial motion was identified and Dr. Sutherland, its identifier, called it the primary respiratory motion (PRM) because he could not imagine anything more fundamental...when it ceases so does life.
The PRM may be observed throughout the body. No one knows exactly how it occurs, but it is thought to be a combination of fluid rhythms produced in the body including the respiratory motion, the beating of the heart, and even the flow of the blood through the vascular system. One trained in observing such a fluidic wave, as I have been trained, may palpate it in the periphery of the body. The wave of the PRM bathes all of the cells of the body and is carried through extracellular fluid (the fluid that surrounds all cells). The cool thing is that the fluid flows poorly through places in the body where there is an injury or malfunctioning joint or muscle. And when I tune into the PRM, those problems identify themselves. They are like little islands that create a FULCRUM around which the fluid must bend around to continue its journey.
The PRM fluid flow represents the Health within a person's system and the FULCRUM created by the malfunction or dysfunction represents the impediment to the healthy functioning of the tissue. The osteopathic manipulation I then perform removes that impediment to the health and the PRM fluid flow becomes like a fountain.
Well, needless to say, I did not understand the above very well in my early days in practice and based upon my experience and current knowledge I would estimate that I still have much room to learn and grow. The one thing I know for certain is that there is amazing grace and beauty within each of us that is palpable and humbling. It does not matter what you look like or how you feel because that grace and beauty is always there and it yearns to heal you in BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT. My work is to act as a facilitator of one's own healing system and that expression of Health is unique for each person and may be uniquely different at any given point and time.