What is Craniosacral Osteopathy?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Craniosacral osteopathy is a type of therapy used by trained professionals to treat various conditions, which may include sports injuries, migraines, stress, depression, general poor health, neck or back pain, and sinusitis. This practice is most commonly performed by naturopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors, and other physicians who focus on holistic treatments. The primary procedures involved in craniosacral osteopathy are hands-on and usually involve the practitioner using his or her hands to manipulate areas of the craniosacral system. It is safe for adults and commonly used as a corrective therapy for children, including newborns who have obtained injuries during birth.

The craniosacral system is an extended line from the cranium to the lower spine, and is composed of fluid and membranes. Each part of the system supports the spinal cord and brain, which osteopaths often believe is the key to relieving pain elsewhere. Due to the constant drainage and replenishment of these fluids, a rhythmic movement is created called craniosacral rhythm. Monitoring and evaluating this rhythm is the primary theory behind craniosacral osteopathy, because the practitioner learns the patient's body and troubled areas through touch.


Physical pain and emotional stress are usually apparent in the muscles and rhythmic flow of the body. Osteopaths are trained to read these signals and determine the needed pressure and other noninvasive methods required to relieve pain. Extended periods of pain and stress can build up in the body and seep through in the form of symptoms, causing a patient to seek treatment. The use of craniosacral osteopathy focuses on total body conditioning and healing as opposed to only treating the primary source of discomfort. In addition to aiding the body in the healing process, craniosacral osteopathy can be used as a preventative method by boosting the body's resistance to pain and other afflictions.

An initial visit to a specialist usually involves observing the patient partially disrobed and in motion while different volumes of pressure are applied along the craniosacral system. The body's movement often helps the osteopath assess problem areas by observing which portion of the body experiences difficulty when moving. He or she corrects any dysfunction by the use of manipulative methods. Most procedures performed during craniosacral osteopathy are gentle and typically do not cause any additional pain. Usually, the methods are relaxing because it feels similar to a deep tissue massage by a professional who has been trained to locate various areas that cause pain.


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