Cranial Osteopathy

What is it and is it different to Osteopathy?

Cranial osteopathy starts from the same principles as all osteopathy. It is the name given to a gentle approach to osteopathy that is based around the cranial/head area.

Cranial osteopaths use a highly trained sense of touch to feel, sometimes very small changes in the tissues in the structure of the whole body, and to diagnose areas of strain or damage.

The osteopath is often 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 compensate for a traumatic event or injury and the patient may be unaware that there is anything wrong, but the effects may still be present and relevant to current symptoms.

Diagnosis and treatment are closely linked as the osteopath works to activate the body’s own healing abilities.  By offering gentle and specific support where it is needed brings the tissues into a state of balance and release and to restore it to health.

Using this approach, the osteopath learns to listen to and be guided by the body’s inner knowledge of what is wrong, which may sometimes be different to the patient’s and the osteopath’s opinion. This helps the osteopath to understand and treat the cause of the symptoms, to reduce the chance of symptoms returning in the future.

Cranial treatment appears so passive so 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 transported into a rich world of structure, colour, depth and emotion. As you continue to read, the story unfolds.

In a cranial treatment, the osteopath is able to strongly feel the workings 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 suffered and, how it is trying to cope.*

In treatment the osteopath is guided by what they feel and how the body responds to treatment, re-balancing or releasing of areas of strain or damage and allowing the body to heal itself and maintain itself in a state of health and function.

What sort of patients or conditions can be helped with cranial osteopathy?

This approach to osteopathy is a way of viewing the body rather than a type 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 often noted in different areas  than just those causing the main problems.

What does cranial treatment feel like?

Cranial osteopathic treatment is very gentle and relaxing. During the treatment some people are aware of different sensations, such as mild tension, aching or sensitivity that gradually disappear, or of feelings of warmth and relaxation. Other people are unaware of anything happening at all during the treatment but are aware that they feel very different afterwards. Most people become deeply relaxed during treatment and it is not uncommon for people to fall asleep.

Does cranial osteopathy have a scientific basis?

We are gradually validating the theory and experiences of cranial osteopaths through a number of clinical studies investigating the effects of cranial osteopathic treatment.

The SCCO is currently supporting a research project ( into the effectiveness of osteopathy in treating babies with feeding difficulties or other causes of distress. Initial results look promising, 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 before referral to Baby Check. The project has now advanced to looking at how osteopathy influences breastfeeding outcomes for babies with feeding difficulties.

Cranial Osteopathy for Babies

Cranial Osteopathy is a subtle form of osteopathic treatment which involves gently manipulating the bones and connective tissues of the brain and cranium. It can help to relieve stresses and strains that the baby may have especially if they experienced a difficult or traumatic birth. The treatment is non – invasive and can relax and provide comfort for your baby through very gentle head and body manipulation.

Common issues cranial osteopathy treats for babies:

  • Colic
  • Winding Difficulties
  • Reflux
  • Crying babies
  • Feeding/latching problems
  • Constipation
  • Torticollis