Condylar Compression Syndrome

Condylar compression is a problem that is very frequently seen in children. With mild to moderate pathology the symptoms are treatable. Severe compression, which is uncommon, is generally not compatible with life. It occurs when bones in the back of the head, occipital condyles, are physically compressed from trauma. It produces at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Nursing Problems
    • Difficulty sucking
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Reflux, Vomiting
  • Colic
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Opisthotnis
  • GI
    • Constipation
    • Bloating
    • Flatulence
  • Torticollis
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

Symptoms arise when four particular nerves, cranial nerves 9-12 and their surrounding structures function improperly, due to a strain on the back of the head. When there is mechanical pressure on a nerve, it adversely affects its function.
The bone in the back of the head is the occiput, and it develops in four parts that do not fuse into one bone until 7-9 years old. The bones that lie on either side of it are the temporal bones. Cranial nerves 9-11 run between the condylar parts and temporal bones and cranial nerve 12 runs through the occipital condyles. It is known that nerves are especially vulnerable to pressure where they go through or between the bones.
At birth all the bones of the head are flexible in order to accommodate the birth process. This increased flexibility also makes it easier for tissues or their relationship to be altered by forces of labor. When the forces are too strong, there is deformation of tissues, decreased motion, and a change in tone of the membranes (which contain the bones or what little there are of them at birth), the bony structures, the nervous system, and the fluids. All these affect nerve function.
When a child presents at a Cranial osteopath's office with several of the symptoms mentioned above, the physician takes a complete history paying special attention to premature labor, length of labor, use of medications, use of any assistive devices in delivery, and the condition of the newborn. After this a complete structural examination is performed, with special attention afforded to the occipital condylar area and adjacent structures. Using all this information, the physician determines what happened to the child and then chooses the appropriate course of action. This usually includes gentle treatment of the affected areas to help the body treat out the pathological forces in an effort to allow it to function properly. Symptoms may abate after the first visit or not until after a series of visits, however. a well-planned treatment program is usually successful.