What is Cranial Osteopathy?
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 involves the anatomy and physiology of the head. Cranial osteopaths use a highly trained sense of touch to feel slight changes of tension and tissue quality in the living anatomy of the whole body, and to detect areas of strain or dysfunction.
The osteopath is commonly drawn to areas in the body that have been affected by past events, such as old accidents and injuries. The body may have learned to make up for a traumatic event or injury and the patient might be unaware that there is anything wrong, yet the results may still be present and relevant to existing symptoms.
Diagnosis and treatment are intimately linked as the osteopath works to trigger the innate ability of the body to heal itself, and by providing gentle and specific assistance where it is needed to bring the tissues into a state of balance and release, to restore it to health.
Using this approach, the osteopath learns to listen to and be led by the body's internal knowledge of what is wrong, which might be different to the individual's opinion and the osteopath's opinion. This helps the osteopath to understand and treat the source of the symptoms, to reduce 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 seems to be happening but, if you are the one reading the book, you are transported into an abundant world of structure, colour, depth and emotion. As you continue to read, the story unfolds.
In a cranial treatment, an osteopath is deeply connected to the inner world of living anatomy and physiology. Listening carefully the body can tell the story of what has happened to it, what trauma (emotional or physical) it has experienced and how it is attempting to deal with the legacy of these traumas.
In treatment the osteopath is guided by the tissues and assists the re-balancing or release of areas of dysfunction. The body has an incredible ability to heal itself and preserve its own physiology in a state of health and uses the re-balancing during osteopathic treatment to re-establish healthy physiology.
What sort of patients or disorders can be helped with cranial osteopathy?
This approach to osteopathy is a way of viewing the body as opposed to a kind of technique and it can be used on every patient-- we treat people not conditions. Cranial osteopathy is widely known for the treatment of babies but is equally 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 patients are aware of different sensations, such as mild tension, aching or sensitivity that eventually disappears, or of feelings of warmth and relaxation. Other people are unaware of anything happening whatsoever during the treatment but are aware that they feel very 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 advance in scientific understanding of physiology, in particular 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 babies with feeding difficulties or other reasons for distress. Initial results look promising, with the initial 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 before referral to Baby Check. The project has now advanced to considering how osteopathy influences nursing outcomes for infants with feeding difficulties.