Monday, November 5, 2018

The Rule of the Artery

By Darryl Gomes, Certified Athletic Therapist, Osteopathic Thesis Writer

In my previous blog, I discussed how the osteopathic tenet "Structure Governs Function" relates to  alignment issues in the body and how they can create bigger problems in the body. In this blog, I will discuss another osteopathic tenet "The Rule of the Artery is Absolute".

As a reminder, the osteopathic tenets are:
  • Structure Governs Function
  • The Rule of the Artery is Absolute
  • Autoregulation
  • The Body is a Functional Unit
Often people assume the rule of the artery is absolute deals exclusively with blood flow, but in actuality, it doesn't. It addresses the manner in which all fluids (eg. blood, lymphatic, cerebrospinal fluid, urine) move in the body. Restrictions in the body that affect fluid movement can affect overall health.

What are Restrictions?

  • Restrictions are analogous to having a kink in a garden hose while trying to water your plants. A change in the shape of a tube affects the pressure of the fluids flowing inside the tube. In the case of the garden hose, a kink in the tube can affect the volume and pressure of the water coming out the end of the hose.
  • Over time, the kink in the hose can change the integrity of the tube, and over time, the tube experiences excessive wear and tear. The hose will no longer perform its job efficiently.
  • Arteries and blood act in the same manner as the garden hose and water. Any changes to the structure of the artery affects the flow of blood to certain areas of the body. The same can be said for renal tubes that contain urine and the spinal cord that contains cerebrospinal fluid.

How Do Restrictions Occur?

  • An artery can be damaged from acute injuries such as an ankle sprain or a whiplash mechanism (as in a concussion), or through chronic problems such as digestive issues.
    • The twisting of the ankle can pull on the main arteries in the foot (eg. dorsal pedal artery) directly, causing shearing forces that can kink the artery. 
    • Hitting your head can change the alignment of the cranial bones, which can narrow the openings that arteries (such as the internal carotid) and veins (such as the jugular vein) enter & exit from the cranium. 
    • Chronic digestive issues can overwork the stomach & other digestive organs. The arteries and veins can experience altered shape and function due to an increase or decrease in blood flow over time.

Why is it Important to Treat these Restrictions?

  • Acute injuries can lead to chronic problems if they are not dealt with in a timely manner:
    • Twisted ankles can lead to chronic swelling in the feet and lower leg.
    • Whiplash can create tension that leads to chronic headaches and limited neck movements
  • Chronic digestive problems can overload the body and can start to stress other areas such as the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems.

How Can Osteopathy Help Me?

  • Osteopathic work on arteries (and other such tubes) can be treated like many other tissues in the body. Arteries that are experiencing tension in them can be treated so that they are not overworking and are allowed to promote proper blood flow. Helping to remove tension off of digestive organs can not only change the ability of the organ to function properly, but affects the efficiency of the entire digestive system as a whole.
  • People who experience chronic swelling in their feet, headaches or digestive issues can be traced to the way arteries (and other associated tubes) are working as well as ensuring there are no places along the tubes where restrictions exist. 
  • Ensuring that the cerebrospinal fluid is properly flowing allows for the brain to work under optimal healthy conditions, which can help with overall energy & concentration levels.
  • Posture and alignment can have a significant influence on the movement of fluids in the body, so ensuring these are optimized are also crucial to overall health.
Next month, I will be discussing the tenet of "Autoregulation".

Thank you and see you next time.