Cranial Osteopathy is a specialised form of osteopathic treatment founded by William Sutherland in 1922. He studied the anatomy of the cranial vault, and in particular, the way that the various scull plates were joined together. He noted that these joints (or sutures) were unlike any other joints found in the body and realised that these structures could permit a degree of movement between the bones.
Cranial osteopathy is the assessment of the quality and quantity of this movement and the effect that this will have on the flow of spinal fluid around the brain and then down the spinal column. It is the spinal fluid that supplies the nutrients to the brain and spine and approximately 500ml of this clear fluid is produced in the centre of the brain each day. Any restriction in this flow, initiated by the jellyfish like billowing movement of the skull, can lead to a reduction in the efficiency of tissue function in the brain.
Cranial osteopaths are able to interpret this cranial rhythm and if necessary make a very gentle adjustment to bring the rhythm back in line. The adjustment is so gentle that it is not felt by the patient, and indeed it is for this reason that it is such a suitable way to help ease conditions encountered by babies.
When assessing babies in this way, it is usual for the child to remain in the parent’s arms whilst the practitioner positions themselves to make gentle contact with the baby’s head or abdomen. It is unusual for a baby to need an extensive course of cranial treatment – usually two or three visits are sufficient to reduce the symptoms.