Cranial Osteopathy uses the same osteopathic principles that were described by Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of Osteopathy. Cranial osteopaths develop a very highly developed sense of palpation that enables them to feel subtle movements and imbalances in body tissues and to very gently support the body to release and re-balance itself. Treatment is so gentle that often patients are quite unaware that anything is happening. But the results of this subtle treatment can be dramatic, and it can benefit whole body health.
Cranial osteopathy got its name because it INCLUDES the head as well as the rest of the body. Cranial Osteopathy is not a good name for this approach to osteopathy because this implies that cranial osteopaths just treat the head. In reality this approach is a very subtle way of palpating and treating ALL the body tissues, and is equally effective and relevant for every part of the body.
When thinking of the cranial approach to osteopathy, many people think of the treatment of babies. Babies’ skeletons are softer than an adult’s and osteopaths will therefore use gentler techniques such as cranial osteopathy when treating babies.
However, cranial osteopathy is equally effective at treating all members of a family and often osteopaths who begin treating babies in a family are then asked to treat older children, then the parents and even grandparents. Osteopaths consider it a privilege to be a trusted healthcare professional treating several generations of one family.
Because it is such a gentle approach, those who haven’t experienced the efficacy of this type of treatment can find it hard to believe that it works for adults as well as babies. The principles of cranial treatment apply to anyone, regardless of age. We use our finely honed skills to palpate the involuntary motion, or tissue motion, in the whole body at a very subtle level. Cranial osteopaths often refer to this quiet palpation as ‘listening’. By offering the body this listening support, it can reveal past trauma and injury and, at a profound level, be escorted back to health. We do this by supporting a re-balancing or release of whatever the area of dysfunction is, and the self-healing mechanism in the body does the rest. This approach is as effective after decades of injury and coping mechanisms as it is in the very young.
The SCCO recently completed a research data collection study comparing the treatment outcomes of SCCO trained cranial osteopaths with the rest of the osteopathic profession. The study demonstrated that SCCO trained osteopaths had the same rate of response to the rest of the profession, but over a wider range of age groups and conditions. The study showed that patients received an average of 3.1 treatments from SCCO trained osteopaths for each episode of care, compared with an average of 3.4 for the general osteopathic profession. Patients reported an average of 64% improvement in symptoms. This demonstrates that cranial osteopathy is effective for all types of conditions for which patients consult osteopaths.
Far from it! When a new drug is being developed, researchers usually start with the molecular structure, finding out how the chemical substances will work before developing a drug to trial on patients. Osteopathic research in common with many other modalities must work the other way around, with treatments that are already being practised being analysed for the consistent component parts that make the treatment effective. Excitingly for us, recent discoveries made during research in the fields of cell motility, fluid dynamics and the properties and functions of fascia have helped osteopaths to better understand the complex changes that they can feel going on under their hands during a treatment.