Cranial osteopathy is not different to osteopathy, it is the name given to a subtle and refined approach to osteopathy that adheres to all the principles of osteopathy, but that includes the anatomy and physiology of the head.
Cranial osteopaths use a highly trained sense of touch to feel subtle changes of tension and tissue quality in the living anatomy of the whole body, and to identify areas of strain or dysfunction.
The osteopath is commonly drawn to areas in the body that have been impacted by past events, such as old accidents and injuries. The body may have learned to compensate for a traumatic event or injury and the individual might be unaware that there is anything wrong, but the effects may still be present and relevant to present symptoms.
Diagnosis and treatment are intimately connected as the osteopath tries to activate the natural ability of the body to heal itself, and by providing gentle and specific support where it is needed to bring the tissues into a state of balance and release, to restore it to health.
Using this method, the osteopath learns to listen to and be led by the body's inner knowledge of what is wrong, which may be different to the patient's opinion and the osteopath's opinion. This helps the osteopath to understand and treat the cause of the symptoms, to decrease the chance of symptoms returning in the future.
Cranial treatment seems so passive, how do I know that anything is happening?
Observing cranial treatment can be compared to watching someone reading a book. From the outside nothing much appears to be happening but, if you are the one reading the book, you are taken into a rich world of structure, color, depth and emotion. As you continue to read, the tale unfolds.
In a cranial treatment, an osteopath is deeply connected to the inner world of living anatomy and physiology. Listening closely the body can tell the tale of what has happened to it, what trauma (emotional or physical) it has suffered and how it is trying to handle the legacy of these traumas.
In treatment the osteopath is guided by the tissues and supports the re-balancing or release of areas of dysfunction. The body has an incredible ability to heal itself and maintain its own physiology in a state of health and uses the re-balancing during osteopathic treatment to re-establish healthy physiology.
What kind of patients or conditions can be helped with cranial osteopathy?
This approach to osteopathy is a way of viewing the body as opposed to a type of technique and it can be used on every patient-- we treat individuals not conditions. Cranial osteopathy is widely known for the treatment of babies however is just as effective for children, adults and the elderly. In any osteopathic treatment, the whole body is involved and improvements are usually noted in different areas and various systems than just the symptomatic one.
What does cranial treatment feel like?
Cranial osteopathic treatment is very gentle and soothing. During the treatment some people are aware of different sensations, such as mild tension, aching or sensitivity that gradually disappears, or of feelings of warmth and relaxation. Other individuals are unaware of anything happening whatsoever during the treatment but are aware that they feel quite different afterwards. Many people become very relaxed during treatment and it is not uncommon for individuals to fall asleep.
Does cranial osteopathy have a scientific basis?
With every breakthrough in scientific understanding of physiology, particularly the physiology of fascia, fluids and electromagnetics in the body, we are gradually validating the theory and palpatory experiences of cranial osteopaths. There are also a number of clinical studies investigating the effects of cranial osteopathic treatment. The SCCO is currently supporting a research project (https://www.babycheckbath.org/mission/) into the effectiveness of osteopathy in treating infants with feeding difficulties or other causes of distress. Initial results look encouraging, with the first 110 evaluation forms showing that 85% of parents rated the service at a score of 8/10 or above and a 1/3 of these parents rated us as 10/10, and 99.1% would recommend the service to another family. 60% of parents were not familiar with osteopathy prior to referral to Baby Check. The project has now progressed to considering how osteopathy influences nursing outcomes for babies with feeding difficulties.