This article is the ninth of a series relating to Sacro Occipital Technique and Cranial Manipulation. Please use this for educating insurance companies, the judiciary, legislature, colleges and the interested public.

Sacro Occipital Technique Orthopedic Block Placement

Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT) blocks or wedges were first introduced to the chiropractic profession by DeJarnette in the 1960s. 1 DeJarnette found that they could be used to modify body placement, actively affecting joint position, body fluid circulation, rib cage and respiratory function as well as spinal vertebral discopathy. The SOT blocks could be placed under the patient’s body, in the supine or prone position, unilaterally or bilaterally, and could be applied to the pelvis, the vertebra directly, rib cage, clavicles and virtually any part of the body. 2-6 Zusman and Buddingh postulated that, “blocks allow ligaments to heal via gelation. Placing of the blocks induces an angular torque so the ligaments that have been stretched abnormally are allowed to tighten and shorten. Conversely, the ligaments that have become compressed are allowed to stretch, which causes capillaries to release a hydrosol (serum) into the area, which then condenses to a hydrogel, permitting stabilization and a nutritive medium, thereby facilitating regrowth of the affected ligament…….and/or discal tissues.” 7

Though SOT blocks have been found to affect muscle strength 8 they have also been successfully used to treat scoliosis 9 as well as treat disc herniations with thecal impingement. 2-6 The SOT blocks are most commonly used in the treatment of three specific categories of body distortion: the first associated with the anterior sacroiliac joint and its synovial membrane, the second associated with the posterior sacroiliac joint and its posterior weight bearing ligaments, and the third category associated with sciatica and lumbar discopathy. 10 SOT orthopedic blocking for disc herniation uses a method of block placement that is individual for the patient and specific for the type and location of the disc herniation. The purpose of the SOT orthopedic block placement is to triangulate pressures and forces at the specific disc level to create a form of localized axial decompression to “de-stress” the annular fibers. Utilizing thixothrophic properties of the disc, the SOT orthopedic block placement aids discal decompression, which facilitates nuclear migration toward the center of the nucleus, together allowing for retraction of the nuclear material, similar to other decompression type techniques 11-15


1. DeJarnette MB “The oblique sacrum and related subluxations” Privately Published, Nebraska City, Nebraska, 1964:1-91.

2. DeJarnette MB “Sacro Occipital Technic” Privately Published, Nebraska City, Nebraska, 1968: 79-86.

3. DeJarnette MB “Sacro Occipital Technic” Privately Published, Nebraska City, Nebraska, 1969:73-5..

4. DeJarnette MB “Sacro Occipital Technic” Privately Published, Nebraska City, Nebraska, 1972:149-51.

5. DeJarnette MB “Sacro Occipital Technic” Privately Published, Nebraska City, Nebraska, 1974:251.

6. DeJarnette MB “Sacro Occipital Technic” Privately Published, Nebraska City, Nebraska, 1984:210-33.

7. Zusman GS, Buddingh CC “Biomechanical advantages of DeJarnette blocking” The Sacro Occipital Research Society International – Winter Conference – Hawaii Feb 1988:1-7.

8. Unger JF, Jr, “The effects of a pelvic blocking procedure upon muscle strength: A pilot study” Chiropractic Technique Nov 1998; 10 (4): 150-5.

9. Blum, CL, “Chiropractic and Pilates Therapy for the Treatment of Adult Scoliosis” JMPT Submitted Apr 1999, accepted for publication January 2000.

10. Blum, CL, Curl, DD, “The relationship between sacro-occipital technique and sphenobasilar balance. Part One: The key continuities” Chiropractic Technique Aug 1998;10(3):95-100.

11. BenEliyahu DJ “MRI and clinical follow-up study of 27 patients receiving chiropractic care for cervical and lumbar disc herniation” JMPT 1996;19(9): 597-606.

12. Tilaro F “An overview of vertebral axial decompression” Canadian Journal of Clinical Medicine Jan 1998;5(1):2-8.

13. Tilaro F, Mishovich D “The effects of vertebral axial decompression on sensory nerve dysfunction in patients with low back pain and radiculopathy” Canadian Journal of Clinical Medicine Jan 1999;5(1):2-7.

14. Ramos G, Martin W “Effects of vertebral axial decompression on intradiscal pressure” J Neurosurg 1994;81:350-3.

15. Gose EE, Naguszewski WK, Naguszewski RK “Vertebral axial decompression therapy for pain associated with herniated or degenerated discs or facet syndrome: An outcome study” Neurological Research Apr 1998;20(3):186-90.

Charles L. Blum, DC
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