We have seen that osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment which works with the structure and function of the body.
Problems in the framework of the body can disturb the circulatory system or nerves to any part of the body, and affect any aspect of health; therefore the maintenance of good mechanical function is essential to good health.
Osteopaths work to restore the structure and function of the body to a state of balance and harmony, so helping the whole person.
So, what is Cranial Osteopathy?
Osteopaths may have different specialities including sports injuries, paediatrics and visceral osteopathy (treating the internal organs of the body). Cranial osteopathy embraces all of these. Cranial osteopathy is a refined and subtle type of osteopathic treatment that encourages the release of stresses and tensions throughout the body, including the head.
It is a gentle yet extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age.
When we experience physical or emotional stresses our body tissues tend to tighten up. The body may have been able to adapt to these effects at the time, but a lasting strain often remains. Any tensions which remain held in the body can restrict its free movement. Gradually the body may find it more and more difficult to cope with accumulated stresses and symptoms may develop.
Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel a very subtle, rhythmical shape change that is present in all body tissues. This is called Involuntary Motion or the Cranial Rhythm. The movement is of very small amplitude; therefore it takes practitioners with a very finely developed sense of touch to feel it. This rhythm was first described in the early 1900s by Dr. William G. Sutherland and its existence was confirmed in a series of laboratory tests in the 1960s and 70s.
Tension in the body disrupts the cranial rhythm. Practitioners compare what your rhythm is doing to what they consider ideal. This shows them what stresses and strains your body is under at present, and what tensions it may be carrying as a result of its past history. It also gives them an insight into the overall condition of your body, for example if it is healthy, or stressed and tired.
What can cranial osteopaths treat?
While it can be highly effective at relieving symptoms cranial osteopathy aims to treat the whole person not just the condition, so a very wide range of situations may benefit from treatment. These may include back and neck pain; joint pain and sports injuries; headaches, migraines and sinus problems; stress; recurrent infection; period pain; digestive difficulties; and treatment may also benefit general health and well-being.
In babies and children many problems such as crying, colic, sleeping and feeding difficulties may be helped.
What qualifications should a cranial osteopath have?
In the UK all qualified osteopaths have DO, or BSc (Ost) or similar, after their names.
Most osteopaths will have had a four year full time or six year mixed attendance mode training. At present there is no formal recognition of post graduate training or experience in the cranial approach.
From May 2000 the Osteopaths Act came into effect to maintain standards within the profession. No-one will be able to practice as an osteopath unless they are registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).
For a number of years the profession has been working hard to achieve statutory regulation. The Osteopaths Act is welcomed as final recognition of the role which osteopathy plays within modern healthcare.
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