What is Osteopathy?

All current medical literature points to the fact that the body works as one harmonious system, rather than as a collective grouping of separate parts. Osteopathic medicine has long known and studied this truth and thus has offered a unique approach to diagnosis and treatment for more than 100 years. Pioneered in the late 1800s by a medical physician named Andrew Taylor Still, osteopathic medicine is dedicated to the treatment and healing of the entire patient, rather than approaching a patient’s symptoms in a crisis-oriented, onespot only approach. This respect for, and study of, the entire functioning of the human system has led to various means of diagnosis and treatment. Perhaps the most recognizable means of treatment includes that of manipulation, whereby the physician uses a hands-on approach to assure that the body is moving freely. This free motion ensures that all innate healing systems are free to work unhindered. For example, common sense dictates that if the lungs are impeded by ribs, a diaphragm or a spine that is not moving well, breathing will be hindered. If breathing is hindered, the body’s immune functions such as lymphatic drainage will not be working well, and healing will be delayed. This observation led Dr. Still to manipulate his patients daily during influenza epidemics. It is recorded in literature that over 21,000,000 people died worldwide in the flu epidemic of 1917-18. Medical hospitals in America reported a 30 to 40 percent mortality rate. However, osteopathic patients had a mortality rate of less than one percent. While today there are antibiotics and many other drugs which were unavailable in the 1800s, osteopathic medicine still looks first to the body’s own healing system for the most effective intervention and seeks in every way possible to stimulate and release the body’s own healing resources.

What is Cranial Osteopathy?

The intensive study of Cranial Osteopathy began in 1939 as a result of the studies of William Gamer Sutherland, an osteopathic physician. Dr. Sutherland’s observations have been borne out by scientific study. Within osteopathic medicine, there exists an understanding that there is a small but important motion between the bones of the skull and their sutures. Dr. Sutherland determined that there is a palpable movement within the body that occurs in conjunction with the motion of the bones of the head. This movement is a part of a rhythmic movement of the fluids of the body that is vitally important in the expression of health, including the maximum function of the body’s own healing system. Trauma to the head or body can alter or hinder the flow of the fluids of the body, often having dramatic and sometimes drastic effects on the person’s health and function. The most obvious of these traumas is birth trauma, where the baby’s skull is impacted by repeated pushing against the birth canal or by vacuum extraction in a difficult labor. Even an almost imperceptible alteration of the skull’s natural configuration and movement can lead to such disorders as colic, the inability of the baby to swallow or suck, frequent spitting up, chronic ear infections and/or delayed development. Trauma can also lead to low back problems, headaches, breathing and digestive disorders, joint pains, menstrual disorders and repetitive stress injuries such as tendonitis.

Are DOs and MDs the Same?

Like allopathic physicians (MDs), osteopathic physicians (DOs) are trained to diagnose and treat these and other problems using every treatment modality available, including the use of drugs and surgery. DOs and MDs often train side by side in their internships and residencies. However, doctors who utilize Cranial Osteopathy have hundreds of hours of additional training in the various functions of the skull in addition to all other parts of the body. This training allows the osteopathic physician to diagnose and treat disorders and disease in ways, which are unique to the profession.

What Happens in Treatment?

Cranial osteopathic treatment involves hands-on manipulation to gently free areas of the body, which has restricted motion. Treatment often involves cradling the head or the sacrum (tailbone), using gentle pressures to free movement of restricted bones or other tissues. This type of treatment is also used to treat any area of the body. Through these approaches many complaints can be treated, including low back problems, TMJ dysfunction, headaches and menstrual cramps. In addition, patients often experience an ongoing, improved sense of well-being and health.

Are DOs the Only Ones Doing Cranial Treatments?

Some “body workers”, including massage therapists and physical therapists, have learned simplified forms of “craniosacral therapy”. However, only osteopathic physicians or medical doctors have the education to fully diagnose and treat patients with every treatment method available. To be assured that you receive the best possible care, select a fully licensed physician and surgeon who has had the comprehensive training necessary to understand the function and dysfunction of the human body. There are osteopathic physicians (DOs), medical doctors (MDs) and dentists (DDSs or DMDs) who have completed approved courses in Cranial Osteopathy. For a referral to a physician or dentist in your area who has completed an approved course in Cranial Osteopathy, contact The Cranial Academy at the number listed below. Remember, no brochure can fully address this complex and highly sophisticated subject. For further information regarding your problems, or those of your child, please consult a licensed physician.


Polychromatic light therapy (PLT) is the simultaneous use of two or more wavelengths of light (color) provided from light emitting diodes (LEDs). Researchers call the biological effects of PLT photobiomodulation (PBM).
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