What Is Cranial Osteopathy?

Cranial osteopathy is a gentle alternative healthcare option that can provide many health benefits for adults as well as children of any age

Original intended for manipulating the bones of the skull, modern cranial osteopathy is a whole-body therapy which can help resolve pain, reduce stress and tension and restore balance to your body, promoting overall physical and mental wellbeing


How Does Cranial Osteopathy Work?

Cranial osteopathy deals with a rhythmic motion, referred to as the “primary respiratory mechanism” (PRM), or “tide”, which is apparent everywhere in the body and can be felt by the therapist’s trained hand

The nature and workings of the “tide” remains speculative, with explanations including the existence of a distinct craniosacral system, or the tide being the result of fluctuations in the cerebro-spinal fluid

On a practical level, the significance of the tide is it provides us with a window into the inner workings of the body

Engaging with the tide, the listening hand can appreciate the quality, state and functional interrelationships of the bones, muscles, organs and other body structures. This allows osteopaths to find distant as well as local areas of dysfunction and address those factors underlying your pain and disability, helping you return to healthy balance

From relieving pain, reducing stress, and promoting general wellbeing here are 7 ways cranial osteopathy can help you improve your overall health and wellness


Benefits of Cranial Osteopathy For Adults

Musculoskeletal Health

At the musculoskeletal level cranial oriented osteopaths connect with the ebb and flow of the tide expressed in bones, joints, muscles and other tissues to reveal the inner workings of this complex tensional matrix

This unique way of working with your system allows the therapist to detect the body-mechanic, working with local and distant strains to help resolve your pain and dysfunction

The cranial approach has been found to help with many musculoskeletal pain syndromes, including pelvic, back and neck pain, as well as headache and migraine


1 – Back & Neck Pain

Back pain is one of the most common causes of pain and disability, accounting for up to 12 million work days lost every year

Back and neck pain result from multiple causes. While physical strain is undoubtedly a factor, there is a strong link between psychosocial stress and back pain

The cranial approach and osteopathy in general has been found to help with pelvic, back and neck pain

By re-establishing joint and muscle synergies osteopaths can help relieve the mechanical causes of back and neck pain

Cranial osteopathy can also address emotional tension held within your tissues, helping you to relax and return to healthy and pain free function

2 – Headache & Migraine

Though tension-type headache and migraine are distinct syndromes they share common factors and are often considered to lie within the same spectrum

Osteopathy has been shown to help with both types of headache

At one end of the spectrum tension headaches have few or no accompanying symptoms. Migrane, on the other hand, may be associated with nausea (and vomiting), light & noise sensitivity and other symptoms. There may be an “aura”, of visual and other disturbance, often preceding the headache

Migraines can triggered by stress, muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders, injury and sinus problems.  There is also a link with hormonal changes, such as the menstrual cycle and menopause

By addressing these and other factors osteopathy has been found to relieve pain and reduce the frequency of migraine attacks

3 – Arthritic Pain

Literally meaning joint inflammation, arthritis is used as a catch all phrase for stiff, painful joints. Inflammation can only be reliable confirmed through laboratory blood tests, such erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-Reactive Protein (CPR)

Even then, these tests point to systemic inflammation – a generalized inflammatory state where joint involvement may be just one manifestation of systemic disease, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Systemic Lupus. Although cranial osteopathy can calm your system to reduce pain sensitivity and inflammation, the role of osteopathy in rheumatological inflammatory disease is limited

Much more common is osteo-arthritis, where one or more joints express stiffness and pain associated with wear from age, or following injury. But even here, the picture is not straightforward, for:

although wear and tear is irreversible, there are as many cases of painful, stiff joints without x-ray evidence of wear as there are of worn joints going about their business happily and without any pain!

Osteopathy has been shown to significantly relieve wear-and-tear related joint pain and stiffness and improve joint function enabling you to engage in all those things you enjoy

Internal Health

As pain and dysfunction in the internal organs can be referred to and affect the functioning of the musculoskeletal system, so does musculoskeletal function affect the inner body. This viscero-somatic relationship is one of the central pillars of osteopathic medicine

Cranial osteopathy uses the tide to sense the whole body, reaching beyond the body frame to the internal organs. At the local, mechanical level, its gentle, non-invasive manipulations can enhance tissue nutrition by improving blood supply and drainage. At the systemic level, cranial osteopaths help shift the autonomic nervous system towards towards a state of rest-and-digest to help your whole system reset and recharge

4 – Irritable Bowel

IBS is a disease of unknown origin with symptoms including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea and bloating. It is common,l affecting 11 out of 26 people globally

Irritable bowel is considered a functional disease with no identifiable organic problem. It is strongly linked to stress

Though the management of IBS requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including dietary management, structural and cranial osteopathy can be useful adjuncts to help relieve your symptoms

5 – Ears & Nose

By directly, albeit gently, manipulating the bones and membranous structures of the skull, cranial osteopathy is an excellent method of working with congestive issues affecting the ears, nose, throat and sinuses

Glue ear is a congestive problem where the middle fills with fluid causing loss of hearing and sensations of pressure and sometimes pain. Though it largely affects children, adults can also be affected.

By releasing tension and compression in and around the cranium, therapists can restore fluid dynamics allowing the ear canal to drain

A similar approach is used to relieve sinus congestion and pain

Cognitive & Emotional Health

The structure-function paradigm applies equally to the realm of mental and emotional health. Osteopathic medicine works with the psycho-somatic, or mind-body relationship to help not just your physical health but your mentally and emotional wellbeing

6 – Stress & Tension

With its light touch and minimal force, cranial osteopaths can free your mind and body from stress and tension, be it from current or past injury, illness, stress or trauma

Cranial osteopathic treatment helps restore balance and relaxation throughout the body – something every adult will benefit from!

7 – Conclusion: Assisting Natural Healing

Whether the focus is on structural fitness, internal health or psychological wellbeing, osteopathy aims to provide an optimal environment for all your vital functions to thrive

Health is more than the absence of disease. it is an emergent property of a dynamic, self-regulating system. Health is a positive state of wellness. It is your natural condition. And it is our job as osteopaths to help you realize this ideal

You can read more on cranial osteopathy at the Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation website

Or hit the button for more info and to book a cranial osteopathic appointment with Manuel