The Clapham Osteopathic Practice - Osteopathy - Cranial Osteopathy - Biodynamic Osteopathy

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Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial Osteopathy

What is Cranial Osteopathy and what is the difference between an Osteopath and a Cranial Osteopath?

Cranial osteopathy is a manual form of holistic therapy which aims to restore the body to balance. Cranial osteopaths are fully qualified, registered osteopaths who use cranial-sacral osteopathic techniques.

So do cranial osteopaths only treat problems with the head?

No! Although the name implies this, cranial osteopaths treat anything, anywhere in the body.

How does it work?

Cranial osteopaths use careful palpation to assess the subtle movements of the cranial bones, spine, pelvis, arms and legs. They also assess the membranes surrounding the brain and central nervous system, as well as the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Wherever tensions are found, they will use delicate techniques to release them and return the body to normal function.

Who do Cranial Osteopaths see?

Everyone! Our patients include: pregnant women (antenatal and postpartum), newborn babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults and the elderly.

What do Cranial Osteopaths treat?

Cranial osteopaths treat all the conditions that osteopaths treat (see Osteopathy). Cranial osteopaths most commonly see pregnant women (antenatal and postpartum) and newborn babies; also people with digestive problems, headaches (cervicogenic and tension type) and an inability to relax. It is important to remember that cranial osteopaths treat the body as a whole, rather than just focusing on any one particular medical condition - the aim of the cranial osteopath is always to look for the underlying cause(s) of the patient's problem and return the body to balance. If you are not sure whether cranial osteopathy is right for you and you would like to discuss treatment with us, please call our clinic or e-mail us with your queries.

Is there any research?

A 2003 research study in the USA ('The Use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment as Adjuvant Therapy in Children With Recurrent Acute Otitis Media', authors: Miriam V Mills MD; Charles E Henley DO MPH; Laura LB Barnes PhD; Jane E Carreiro DO; Brian F Degenhardt DO) into the efficacy of osteopathic manipulative treatment for recurrent acute otitis media (Glue Ear) in children concluded: "The results of this study suggest a potential benefit of osteopathic manipulative treatment as adjuvant therapy in children with recurrent acute otitis media; it may prevent or decrease surgical intervention or antibiotic overuse."

A 2006 research study in the UK ('A Preliminary Assessment of the Impact of Cranial Osteopathy for the Relief of Infantile Colic', authors: Clive Hayden DO and Brenda Mullinger) into the effects of cranial osteopathic treatment on babies, concluded that: "Some parents perceived the following changes in their children's behaviour: reduced colicky crying, improved sleep, less unsettled irritable behaviour and increased quiet happy spells."

What happens when I see the cranial osteopath?

The case history and clinical examination are the same as when seeing an osteopath. Treatment is undertaken with the patient lying on their back while the cranial osteopath gently contacts certain areas of the body: namely the head, back, sacrum (base of the spine) and any sites of pain or dysfunction - for example the knee. It is best to wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Does it hurt?

Treatment is very gentle, which is why cranial osteopaths see so many pregnant mums and newborn babies. Often the patient will fall asleep during treatment.

How long does a treatment take and how many will I need?

The first treatment usually lasts about 1 hour, follow-up treatments around 40 minutes. Some problems may only need 2 or 3 treatments, more serious or long-term problems will often require more. The cranial osteopath will discuss the diagnosis and prognosis with the patient during the first treatment and explain how many treatments they feel might be needed.

What is the training?

Elizabeth and Abby both successfully completed 4 year full-time Masters of Osteopathy Degrees in the UK. This included undergraduate training in cranial, maternal, paediatric and visceral osteopathic techniques. They continually undertake post-graduate cranial, paediatric, maternal and biodynamic osteopathy courses and seminars, and attend medical lectures to keep their practice and knowledge up to date with the latest osteopathic and medical research.

What is the history?

Cranial Osteopathy was developed over 70 years ago by an American osteopath - William Garner Sutherland D.O. (a student of Andrew Taylor Still M.D. - the founder of Osteopathy). In 1899 Dr Sutherland first deduced that the bones in the head might articulate (move) with each other and were not fused, as was believed at the time. He spent the next 40 years studying the anatomy and physiology of the cranium and experimenting with techniques before in 1939 publishing his seminal work: The Cranial Bowl. Dr Sutherland described his techniques as "Osteopathy in the Cranial Field" because he wanted to clarify that they were 'osteopathic' in origin and not a separate form of therapy. Cranial osteopathy predates all other forms of cranial-sacral, craniosacral, sacro-occipital, atlas and somato-emotional release therapies.