Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial Osteopathy

Practitioners: James Harrison
Owen Gray
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Information Available
What is Cranial Osteopathy?
When should I see a Cranial Osteopath?
The History of Cranial Osteopathy

What is Cranial Osteopathy?

Correctly termed Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, cranial osteopathy is also known as CranioSacral Therapy.

It is a method of both detecting and correcting strains within the body by tuning into the 'Primary Respiratory Mechanism'. This small and involuntary movement within the central nervous system and indeed all body tissues is interrupted in areas where tissues and bones have been strained or injured. This in turn affects the efficient delivery of body fluids, which contain essential nutrients and messages (e.g. hormones), from reaching their destination in the cells. It is theorized that poor health may result.

Treatment with Cranial Osteopathic techniques is thought to encourage your own natural healing mechanisms to recover from the negative effects of stress on your body particularly your central nervous system.

For a better understanding of the mechanics of Cranial Osteopathy see the History section.

To better understand some of the principles behind Cranial Osteopathy see Extra Information on Principles of Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial Osteopathy can often be applied where other more direct interventions are too painful.

When should I see a Cranial Osteopath?

Cranial Osteopathy may be of assistance to people of all ages.

1. Newborns

Cranial Osteopathy is a technique very suitable for treating newborns suffering from the mechanical strains experienced during birth. For simple strains babies usually respond quickly. For more complicated strains or the longer a problem such as a birth trauma is left the longer it will take to treat. Treatment of birth related strains later in life can often take a long time and may not always be as successful.

Our cranially trained osteopaths will examine and treat newborn babies for any birth related musculoskeletal problems.

- Normal Birth
During the normal birth process the baby's head is forced down into the birth canal against the bottom of the pelvis. The uterus contracts to assist the baby to be born and as it does the baby must turn its head to enter the birth canal and then twist the whole body like a corkscrew.

Sometimes birth takes quite a while and the baby is in an unusual twist for this time. Depending on the stresses put on the baby during this time, the shape and balance of the mother's pelvis, the baby could benefit from a cranial assessment after the birth.

- Difficult Births
* Breech
Where the baby delivers bottom first instead of head first it is called a breech birth. This puts a lot of stress on the baby's pelvis which is not mechanically as suited to birth as their cranium.

* Forceps Delivery
This is where forceps are used to pull the baby out during a very difficult birth.

Neck Rotation: Suckling may also depend on the baby's comfort when they turn their neck. Sometimes a baby will suckle from one breast and then be unsettled or cry for no obvious reason when put on the other breast. This may be because it hurts to turn their neck that direction.

2. Children

Children are amazing. They are forever testing their world and as a consequence they have falls and accidents that can also affect them mechanically.

While treatment after any major traumas is advised it is also good to check with us if your child complains repetitively of any musculoskeletal pain or headaches.

Can Cranial Osteopathy be used in conjunction with other methods of treatment?

Usually Cranial Osteopathy can be used with other modalities without causing any kind of interference. It is best to discuss your case directly with your practitioner.

The History of Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial Osteopathy was originated by physician William Sutherland, DO (1873-1954) in 1898-1900. While looking at a disarticulated skull, Sutherland was struck by the idea that the cranial sutures of the temporal bones where they meet the parietal bones were "beveled, like the gills of a fish, indicating articular mobility for a respiratory mechanism."[6] This idea that the bones of the skull could move was contrary to North American contemporary anatomical belief.

Sutherland stated the dural membranes act as 'guy-wires' for the movement of the cranial bones, holding tension for the opposite motion. He used the term reciprocal tension membrane system (RTM) to describe the three Cartesian axes held in reciprocal tension, or tensegrity, creating the cyclic movement of inhalation and exhalation of the cranium. The RTM as described by Sutherland includes the spinal dura, with an attachment to the sacrum. After his observation of the cranial mechanism, Sutherland stated that the sacrum moves synchronously with the cranial bones. Sutherland began to teach this work to other osteopaths from about the 1930s, and continued to do so until his death. His work was at first largely rejected by the mainstream osteopathic profession as it challenged some of the closely held beliefs among practitioners of the time.

In the 1940s the American School of Osteopathy started a post-graduate course called 'Osteopathy in the Cranial Field' directed by Sutherland, and was followed by other schools. This new branch of practice became known as "cranial osteopathy". As knowledge of this form of treatment began to spread, Sutherland trained more teachers to meet the demand, notably Drs Viola Frymann, Edna Lay, Howard Lippincott, Anne Wales, Chester Handy and Rollin Becker.

The Cranial Academy was established in the US in 1947, and continues to teach DOs, MDs, and Dentists "an expansion of the general principles of osteopathy"[7] including a special understanding of the central nervous system and primary respiration.

Towards the end of his life Sutherland believed that he began to sense a "power" which generated corrections from inside his clients' bodies without the influence of external forces applied by him as the therapist. Similar to Qi and Prana, this contact with, what he perceived to be the Breath of Life changed his entire treatment focus to one of spiritual reverence and subtle touch.[8] This spiritual approach to the work has come to be known as both 'biodynamic' craniosacral therapy and 'biodynamic' osteopathy, and has had further contributions from practitioners such as Becker and James Jealous (biodynamic osteopathy), and Franklyn Sills (biodynamic craniosacral therapy). The biodynamic approach recognises that embryological forces direct the embryonic cells to create the shape of the body, and places importance on recognition of these formative patterns for maximum therapeutic benefit, as this enhances the ability of the patient to access their health as an expression of the original intention of their existence.

From 1975 to 1983, osteopathic physician John E. Upledger and neurophysiologist and histologist Ernest W. Retzlaff worked at Michigan State University as clinical researchers and professors. They set up a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists, and bioengineers to investigate the pulse he had observed and study further Sutherland's theory of cranial bone movement. Upledger and Retzlaff went on to publish their results, which they interpreted as support for both the concept of cranial bone movement and the concept of a cranial rhythm.[9][10][11] Later reviews of these studies have concluded that their research is of insufficient quality to provide conclusive proof for the effectiveness of craniosacral therapy and the existence of cranial bone movement.[12]

Upledger developed his own treatment style, and when he started to teach his work to a group of students who were not osteopaths he generated the term 'CranioSacral therapy', based on the corresponding movement between cranium and sacrum. Craniosacral therapists often (although not exclusively) work more directly with the emotional and psychological aspects of the patient than osteopaths working in the cranial field

Taken from
Wikipedia on Cranial Osteopathy

In Australia a branch of the Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation provides training for osteopaths wishing to learn this philosophy.

Extra Information on Principles of Cranial Osteopathy

Three of the essential concepts in Cranial Osteopathy are:

1. Function is dependent on form and form is in constant movement

2. The body is self-healing and self-regulating

3. The human system is a unified whole and functions as such

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