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Cranial Osteopathy
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Cranial Osteopathy

Craniosacral Osteopathy

Cranial Osteopathy is the application of sophisticated and subtle methods or techniques of osteopathy. Cranial osteopaths are highly trained to palpate or feel subtle changes of tension and tissue quality in all body parts and thus, finally reach the diagnosis of areas of strain or dysfunction. The role of osteopaths comes in those cases or patients whose body has been affected by past events, such as injuries due to accidents or trauma, for various reasons. The body might have already learnt to compensate for accidental injury or trauma. After that patient is unaware that anything is still wrong and the real cause of current symptoms.

In osteopathy, the diagnosis of a condition opens the pathway of treatment. The aim of osteopathic treatment, or the principle involved in treatment, is to enhance the ability of the body to heal by itself. This is achieved by gentle and specific support to restore tissues in balance and release which restore the health.

Osteopaths give more emphasis on knowing the inner harmony of various parts of the body. The diagnosis of a particular condition may differ from what the patient thinks, or even an osteopath opinion at the outset. Exact diagnosis in view of the harmony of various parts of the body helps osteopaths in defining a fine line of treatment to reduce symptoms and prevent recurring issues of any in future.

This treatment is very gentle How do I know that there are any changes?

If someone watches a cranial treatment, one can easily imagine somebody reading a book. Both actions are comparable. Just while reading the book immediately, there is no change in the reader’s behaviour. But a lot is happening inside the brain. One gets a lot of information and experiences imagination related to structure, color, depth and emotion. Similarly, lot happens during and after cranial treatment.

For an osteopath, anatomy or various parts of the body and physiology or functions of those parts and harmony between anatomy and physiology matters most. Assessing carefully can throw light upon what exactly happened to the body during past trauma, the effects of the trauma in terms of anatomy and physiology, the emotional elements associated with the event of trauma, and the reason for lingering symptoms.

Osteopath takes into account the ability and limitations of various parts of the body to heal itself utilising a balancing act naturally. In this way, an osteopath can be said to be guided by the tissue itself. The decision rests upon how much assistance to be offered for rebalancing and releasing areas of dysfunction. Thus it can be said body has the amazing ability to heal by itself, and osteopath is just catalyst in assisting this natural process.

Which patients or conditions can get benefits with the help of cranial osteopathy?

The approach of cranial osteopathy is to view the patient by an approach to consider body as a whole and not a disease of a particular part or system. In short, osteopath treat people, not conditions. Cranial osteopathy is useful in all age groups, including babies, adults, and geriatric age groups. After treatment by an osteopath, results may be noted in areas unrelated to that where treatment was applied. In short, whole body shows a response or results.

The treatment itself involves the delicate manipulation of the cranial and spinal bones in order to restore the cranial rhythm. In the treatment of adults, while the practitioner holds the appropriate bones and gently manipulates tissues, the patient is asked to concentrate on releasing tension and breathing. Babies are often treated after birth. Cranial osteopathy is a gentle treatment that may help to ease the dramatic change from life inside the womb to life in the world outside. Adults may also benefit from cranial osteopathy.

How does cranial treatment feel like?

Cranial osteopaths use the very gentle and relaxing type of techniques. Many times, patients go to sleep even. Some patients may feel a mild degree of tension, aching or warmth. But all these sensations are transient and disappear over period of time. All in all patients feel far better after treatment.

Does cranial osteopathy has a scientific basis?

Science is ever progressing, and we osteopaths, too are getting better at understanding the physiology of fluids, fascia and electromagnetics. The process of validating the palpatory skills of cranial osteopaths is going on. There are many controlled clinical statistical studies evaluating effects of treatment by cranial osteopaths. The SCCO is one such organization supporting a research project ( evaluating effectiveness of osteopathy in treating babies with difficulty in feeding or other causes of distress. Initial results are promising. Out of 110 evaluation forms, some 85 percent of parents of those babies scored service as 8/10, and almost a third of patients rated service as 10/10. At the same time, 99.1 percent of families recommended service to other families. 60% of parents had yet to learn about osteopathy modality before the referral of babies for the check.

Research relevant to cranial osteopathy
Baltazar G A, Kolwitz C, Petrone P, et al. (March 18, 2020) Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Relieves Post-concussion Symptoms in a Case of Polytrauma. Cureus 12(3): e7317. doi:10.7759/cureus.7317

Herring, S.W. and Teng, S. (2000). Strain in the braincase and its sutures during function. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 112: 575-593. doi:10.1002/1096-8644(200008)112:4<575::AID-AJPA10>3.0.CO;2-0 See
Herzhaft-Le Roy, J., Xhignesse, M., & Gaboury, I. (2017).

Efficacy of an Osteopathic Treatment Coupled With Lactation Consultations for Infants’ Biomechanical Sucking Difficulties: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Human Lactation, 33(1), 165–172.
Matsumae M, Kuroda K, Yatsushiro S, et al. (2019).

Changing the Currently Held Concept of Cerebrospinal Fluid Dynamics Based on Shared Findings of Cerebrospinal Fluid Motion in the Cranial Cavity Using Various Types of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Techniques. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 59(4):133-146. doi:10.2176/nmc.ra.2018-0272 See
Moore, C. I., & Cao, R. (2008).
The hemo-neural hypothesis: on the role of blood flow in information processing. Journal of neurophysiology, 99(5), 2035–2047. doi:10.1152/jn.01366.2006
Rasmussen TR, Meulengracht KC (2020) Direct Measurement of the Rhythmic Motions of the Human Head Identifies a Third Rhythm. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (in press).

Sergueef N, Nelson KE, Glonek T. (2002). The effect of cranial manipulation on the Traube-Hering-Mayer oscillation as measured by laser-Doppler flowmetry. Altern Ther Health Med. 8(6):74-76. See

Tobey H, Lucas T, Bledsoe D, Mykins M, Campbell C, Berr SS, Sasser T, Helm R, Brolinson PG, Klein BG, Costa BM (2019). Effect of Osteopathic Cranial Manipulative Medicine on an Aged Rat Model of Alzheimer Disease. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2019;119(11):712–723. doi:

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