A special field of osteopathy, cranial osteopathy is used to manipulate the bones of the skull with a touch so light that it is hardly noticeable by the individual receiving the treatment.
The osteopath that uses the technique uses both anatomical and physiological knowledge and palpatory skills in the technique. William Garner Sutherland, who was a follower of Andrew Still, developed cranial osteopathy in 1930.
Cranial osteopathy is based on the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain, has rhythms that are influenced by the rate and depth of the person’s breathing. With gentle manipulation of the skull these rhythms can be altered.
A disturbance of the cranial bones can unbalance the normal cranial rhythm causing strain within the cranium. It is believed that it is this dysfunction to the cranium that causes disease.
The technique used in Cranial Osteopathy involves gentle manipulations using sensitive touches applied to the cranium and sacrum, and elsewhere on the head. The purpose is to resolve any compression or distortion of the bones making up the cranium. One event that triggers cranial disturbance is the birthing process.
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) involves a sequence of movements that have the purpose of improving overall function of the cranial bones and cranial system and also the membrane structures of the body.
Dr. Upledger studied cranial osteopathy and developed craniosacral therapy adapting it to his own research and his own observations as an osteopathic physician.
There are several theories involved in the practice of craniosacral therapy including that the bones of the skull do not fuse completely during childhood, the membranes that surrounding the brain and the spinal cord (meninges) move rhythmically.
The movement of the meninges can be evaluated by holding the head and the base of the spine (sacrum) still and focusing on what can be felt by the fingers and hand. Once the evaluation is finished the bones of the skull can be slowly and gently adjusted, so that the cerebrospinal fluid lining the brain and spinal cord move in a more natural pattern.
Craniosacral therapy can be used to treat low back pain, neck pain, chronic fatigue, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), fibromyalgia and emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.
It can also be used for chronic conditions such as coordination problems, hyperactivity, and learning disorders. Autism may also be a condition in which craniosacral therapy can be used. Children who have autism have very tight meninges. The Craniosacral therapy loosens these meninges.
Effects of Craniosacral Therapy
The effects of the craniosacral therapy are that the patients appear calmer and find that they can concentrate better. They may experience improvement in posture and coordination. They may also experience less pain. Craniosacral therapy can be used in combination with other therapies.