Cranial osteopathy, also more formally called ‘osteopathy in the cranial field’ is a whole person approach to the patient. It was first developed by the founder Dr William Sutherland in the early 20th century for manipulating the bones of the skull – hence the name cranial osteopathy.
Cranial treatment is extremely gentle. Patients remained clothed and usually lie on their back, although side lying or sitting positions can be used if patients are more comfortable, i.e. during pregnancy.
The osteopath places their hands under different areas of the body, including the head, and uses very small amounts of pressure to find balance points that allows the body to relax. There is no massage or gross movements of the body. Some patients feel movement occurring through their body, some feel warmth.Most feel very relaxed from treatment.
It can also be used to treat joint problems such as knees, ankles, shoulder and the spine by balancing tension in the ligaments of joints, as well as releasing broader areas of tension by encouraging one of the fundamental body rhythms osteopaths call the primary respiratory mechanism.
The cranial approach can be used alone or following the use of direct or structural techniques such as soft tissue, myofascial release and articulation of joints. In this way it helps the body to integrate the changes made in the treatment and to deeply relax the nervous system.
In adults Cranial Osteopathy may be useful in the treatment of:
- Migraines and headaches
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Fibromyalgia and other connective tissue disorders
- Arthritus and joint pain
- Stress and tension related problems
- Chronic and regional pain syndromes