The Occipital Bone is a part of your cranium, located in the lower, back portion of your skull. Your occipital bone joins with the 1st vertebra (C1), also called the “atlas,” forming the atlanto-occipital joint. This is how you can nod your head YES and shake your head NO to the many questions you face throughout your day, and this joining of the occipital bone with the vertebrae is the direct link between your skull and your spine.
In addition, the occipital bone plays a part in protecting your body’s most valuable asset – your brain. The occipital bone specifically protects your brain’s visual processing center. It also houses the connecting pathway that connects the brain to the spine.
Based on its location, the occipital bone can influence the body’s movements, flexibility, stability, and balance, as well as its sense of sight. CranioSacral Therapists recognize the importance of the occipital bone as it relates to the body’s overall physical function and a person’s ability to see and interact with the world.
When you are born, the occipital bone is not completely ossified. It takes almost six years before the occipital bone becomes fully ossified. Any problems with the development of this bone may lead to health issues that can, fortunately, benefit from the skilled hands of a CranioSacral Therapist.
If the occipital bone and the spine are misaligned, resulting in pain, CranioSacral Therapy can correct and eliminate your discomfort and restore fluid communication and movement to your body. Additionally, if the occipital bone has not properly developed, CranioSacral Therapy can resolve many resulting vision defects you may be experiencing.
When your Occipital Bone is not functioning or moving optimally, a number of mental and physical symptoms can develop, including (but not limited to):
- Neck and Back Pain
- Painful and/or Limited Neck Movement
- Shoulder Pain
- Balance and Coordination Problems
- Vision Defects
- High Blood Pressure
- Inability to see and/or discriminate between colors
- Endocrine disorders
- Lowered Immune Functioning
- Sensory Processing Disorders
- Nervous System Problems
Much like the frontal bone, the occipital bone is sensitive to the birthing process and can also be damaged from trauma resulting from accidents and injurites, resulting in chronic health and mental problems. Modern medicine often recommends spinal surgery for pain and other conditions resulting from dysfunction of your occipital bone. While surgery may be a necessity in some extreme cases, surgical procedures can potentially cause stress and dis-ease in your body.
However, a skilled and experienced CranioSacral Therapist can, in many cases, offer a far safer and more effective alternative to surgical procedures and other, more invasive, therapies.
As a protector of the brain, the Occipital Bone plays an important role in your overall health and quality of life. Investigating the cause of pain and other health issues beyond the normal medical paradigm could provide you with benefits far beyond the typical limitations and side effects of prescription drugs and surgery.
Live Life Fully,
Sandy Schell, ACST, LWC