What is Functional Cranial Release?

Functional Cranial Release (FCR) is a relatively new and non-invasive endonasal balloon procedure that corrects chronic restrictions and mis-alignments of the head and facial bones and removes blockages in the sinus channels and eustachian tubes.  One of the largest and most important cranial bones is the sphenoid. A butterfly shaped bone that sits behind the nose with the upper edge of the ‘butterfly wings’ extending to the temples and the lower ‘legs’ of the bone forming the back of the mouth and jaw.  It’s the ONLY bone of the skull that connects with every other bone. Therefore, the position of the sphenoid affects the alignment and function of the entire cranium. 

Chronic sinus blockages and eustachian tube conditions present with complex symptomatology that includes facial pain, inflammation, hearing loss, echo/ringing (tinnitus) and jaw dysfunction (TMJ).  FCR has proven to open the channels and release the chronic blockages to allow for proper drainage of the maxillary sinuses and eustachian tubes.  In fact, an immediate ‘pop’ is heard during the procedure as the channels open and pressure is released.

What is the difference between FCR and Cranial Facial Release?

Both FCR and Cranial Facial Release (CFR) may look similar and use similar endonasal balloon techniques, however FCR differs from Cranial Facial Release in three significant ways. First, FCR incorporates a specific neurological component during the assessment based on functional neurology to determine specific balloon placement to manipulate the sphenoid in a particular direction, whereas Cranial Facial Release is a more general inflation of both endonasal chambers.  FCR is a slower and controlled process to allow for soft tissue expansion and guided balloon force vs. CFR which is a quick and impulsive inflation.  Lastly, FCR incorporates both internal cranial adjustment via the specific endonasal balloon technique and external cranial mobilization (ie. maxilla, zygomatic and occipital-sphenoid axis release) to ensure mobility and alignment is restored to the entire cranial structure.  This is a critical component to the procedure as chronic cranial adhesions may affect multiple suture lines that often require a comprehensive approach to restore full function.  Although CFR and FCR may look similar on a video, FCR is a much more advanced, comprehensive and neurologically focused procedure founded on the principles of functional neurology. 

Conditions FCR is used to treat:

  • Sinusitis
  • Deviated septum
  • History of head trauma / concussion
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw pain / clicking (TMJ)
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Eustachian Tube (auditory tube) blockage and hearing loss
  • Tinnitus

Why is cranial alignment important?

Restoring health is less about trying to fix a ‘broken’ part and more to do with removing the ‘blockages’ in a closed kinetic system.  When it comes to neuro-physiological conditions of the ears, eyes, nose and throat (EENT) which extends to breathing, balance, and neuro-immune function, the first place to look for blockage or joint restriction is in the cranium and upper cervical spine.  Why?  Because the structural integrity of the head and spine have a direct affect on the function of the central nervous system – particularly the autonomic part of the CNS.  The same way a crooked or bent spoke(structure) affects how the wheel spins (function). Structure determines how something moves, how it operates, how it functions. The cranium or skull is made up of various bones that expand and contract at the joints (sutures) with each breath.  This acts as a pump mechanism to circulate cerebral-spinal fluid (CSF) throughout the brain and spinal cord – referred to as the cranial-sacral rhythm. CSF bathes the brain and nervous system providing nutrients – especially oxygen uptake – to all the neural cells. 

Chronic cranial misalignments cause abnormal cranial-sacral rhythm.  This leads to poor CSF flow and inadequate fuel and nutrient delivery to the brain. Subsequently, the ability of the brain and nervous system to communicate with the cells of the body is compromised. Since the nervous system provides the power source to each and every cell, this translates to a decreased rate of cellular regeneration.  Poor regeneration leads to poor function and this is the stage when symptoms are recurrent and frequent. Ongoing migraine headaches, chronic sinus infections, restricted nasal breathing, sleep apnea, grinding and clicking of the jaw, ringing(tinnitus) or pressure in the ears.  Are you starting to see how it’s all connected ?  Everything has a cause and effect.  Symptoms are the effect.  They are the body’s way of telling you the system is under strain.  Remember, symptoms are the messenger, not the problem.

Is FCR covered by my insurance?

Yes,  FCR falls under the scope of Chiropractic care and is billed as a Chiropractic procedure.  Most private insurance carriers also have a health spending or flex account that can be used to help cover the cost of the procedure.

Dr. Filo combines FCR therapy with sacro-occipital, cranial and upper cervical techniques to ensure all areas of the head and neck are structurally balanced. Subluxations of the sphenoid and other internal bones of the cranium are rarely isolated.  Particularly in chronic cases where compensatory changes in the TMJ (jaw) and spinal vertebrae (both the neck and low back) have already formed.

What is involved in an FCR procedure?

During your initial consultation, specific questions will be asked pertaining to your medical history, and current symptoms along with relevant imaging or scans you’ve done recently.  The doctor will examine you through a set of tests to detect if any restrictions are present in cranial bone mobility where they join together at the sutures. One side of the cranium may show less mobility compared to the other due to prior head trauma or concussion. If you are deemed a candidate for the FCR procedure, you will have an opportunity to start the procedure on the same day. 

The procedure involves the insertion of a small latex balloon through the nostril and placed in a specific position inside the nasal cavity.  It is then slowly inflated to help stretch and mobilize chronic cranial adhesions and suture restrictions. A series of inflations (4 in total) are performed over a period of one week that act to gradually expand the soft tissue lining of the endonasal cavity including sinus channel openings (maxillary and sphenoid) and correct cranial misalignments.  As adhesions within the sutures are released, cranial-sacral rhythm is gradually restored leading to a return to optimal flow of cerebral spinal fluid to nourish the brain and spinal cord.  When structure is restored, function is restored.

Is FCR safe?

No drugs and no surgery are involved.  This is a 100% natural and holistic based treatment directed at treating the cause of your condition. In very few instances, patients may experience mild nose bleeding or spotting immediately after the procedure.  This is due to the stretching of the soft tissue inside the nasal cavity.  Individuals on blood thinner medication may be prone to a longer period of nose bleeding following the procedure.  Please discuss this with the doctor during your initial evaluation.

Do I need a referral from my medical doctor?

No, a referral is not required to see a Chiropractor. If any prior imaging (x-ray or CT/MRI ) have been done for your condition, please bring a copy of the report(s) with you to your initial consultation.  The doctor will review your results during your exam.

Is it painful?

Some patients have described it as an intense feeling of expansion or pressure inside the nasal cavity. Other patients have described it as a feeling of ” unlocking” or “opening” followed by a sense of immediate relief.  It is common to hear popping or cracking noises during the procedure as blockages are released and bones re-align.  The first thing many patients will report is a sudden increase in breathing capacity through the nose and less pressure in the sinuses and ears.

How many procedures will I need?

This is entirely dependent on the chronicity of your condition – the length of time you have been suffering from the symptoms –  and other underlying factors.  One FCR  procedure involves a minimum of 4 sessions to a maximum of 6 over a period of 7 days.  Other underlying factors include; increased levels of stress, chronic inflammatory conditions due to diet and sensitivities or pre-existing structural limitations ( severe deviated septum, cranial deformity, congenital defects etc. ).  

Out of town patients typically fly in on a Sunday and start the FCR procedure on the Monday and fly out on Thursday or Friday following the last procedure. For accommodations, the Novotel Toronto North York on Yonge St (North York Station)  has reasonable rates, subway access and is within walking distance to the clinic.   

What is the cost and is FCR covered under my health insurance?

The fee for the initial FCR assessment is $120. The complete procedure – which includes 4 consecutive sessions – is $2000. Additional sessions, if needed, are $500/session. Functional Cranial Release falls under your Chiropractic benefit plus additional funds might be covered under your health spending / flex account. It’s advised you contact your insurance provider to inquire about your specific coverage.


To schedule an initial examination, please call 416-218-8870 or email us at info@yongefinchhealth.com

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