What is Osteopathy?
The following is a brief descriptor, provided by the Osteopathic Alliance, summarising what osteopathy is: “Osteopathy is a philosophy of healthcare that acknowledges that the living body is a self-renewing, self-regenerating, self-recuperating system which maintains health constantly throughout life. Whenever that health-maintaining system is compromised, symptoms or disease could develop. Osteopathy is concerned with that which has compromised health rather than the resulting condition.
“Osteopaths have been regulated by statute since 1993. They are trained to diagnose conventionally and also to use their hands to assess body function and dysfunction. This gives the osteopath uniquely sensitive information about the disability within the body and how this insight might be used to help restore health.
“Although people commonly describe their symptoms in terms of conventional medical conditions, osteopaths do not primarily treat medical conditions; they are more concerned with the cascade of events which could have contributed to the development of those medical conditions. ” The treatment of Osteopathy is divided into:
- Cranial osteopathy.
- Visceral osteopathy.
What is Cranial Osteopathy?
Cranial osteopathy (also called cranial therapy or craniosacral therapy) is not different to osteopathy, it is the name given to a subtle and refined approach to osteopathy that follows all the principles of osteopathy, and it is used throughout the body not just in the head. The name cranial osteopathy simply refers to the fact that it includes the structures inside the head.
Cranial osteopaths use a highly developed sense of touch to feel subtle changes of tension and tissue quality in the living anatomy of the whole body and to diagnose areas of strain or dysfunction.
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 intimately linked as the osteopath works to activate the innate ability of the body to heal itself, and by offering gentle and specific support where it is needed to bring the tissues into a state of balance and release, 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 be different from the patient’s opinion 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 osteopathy is a gentle, safe and effective approach to the treatment of a wide range of problems in the whole body.
A cranial osteopath is trained to diagnose any strains that are preventing the expression of optimal health. They will gently help your body’s natural self-healing mechanism to release any unwelcome strains, enabling a state of health and balance to be restored. This process can be deeply relaxing and we encourage our patients to take this opportunity to rest and unwind during treatment.
Cranial osteopaths treat muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and the nervous and circulatory systems to facilitate change. Our osteopaths have observed that cranial osteopathy can assist in the treatment of the following:
- Neck and Back pain
- Headaches and Migraines
- Pregnancy-related aches and pain
- Sciatica and leg pain
- Shoulder pain
- Work Injuries
- Hip pain
- Sport Injuries
- Joint and muscle pain
- TMJ/ Jaw Pain
What does cranial treatment feel like? 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. 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 many different areas. For example, it is not uncommon for digestive problems to resolve when the spine or pelvis are being treated because of back pain.
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 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 when they get up afterward. Most people become deeply relaxed during treatment and it is not uncommon for people to fall asleep.
While Osteopaths predominantly work on the balance of muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons, Visceral Osteopaths also consider the movements and quality of internal organs (also called viscera: stomach, liver, intestines, lungs, etc..) to treat back, neck, shoulders, and legs problems.
Importance of visceral osteopathy
It is definitely an aspect we cannot ignore. All viscera have a strong physiological role in our health. We absorb the vitamins in the intestines. The liver detoxifies the body. The pancreas produces the insulin that reduces the sugar level in our body, etc. Their good function is necessary to the well being of the human being.
It is also worth mentioning that the internal organs are exposed and vulnerable to emotions and mental health. Your heart beats faster when you’re scared. You can experience ‘butterflies’ in the stomach. Interview or exam stress can make your bowel movements more frequent. Emotional trauma can also leave their marks on the viscera and affect the biomechanics around it. Ignoring these aspects would be ignoring what the human being is made of: a whole simple unit with its emotional and physical sides. That is why Osteopathy is considered a holistic therapy: we look and treat the person as a whole, not as parts of the whole.