Cranial osteopathy is a branch of osteopathy which relates to the anatomy and physiology of the head. It is also referred to as craniosacral therapy or cranial therapy. It is one of a variety of manipulative techniques used by osteopaths.

Cranial osteopaths are highly trained to use the sense of touch to recognise small changes in tension and in the quality of the tissues of the body. In this way they aim to find and diagnose areas which are functioning less well and need attention.

In the assessment of the patient, the osteopath listens carefully to the patient’s story, looking for bodily areas which have been impacted by injuries or accidents. People often naturally compensate for problems after injury and are not aware that this is related to ongoing symptoms

Osteopaths give gently inputs to encourage the body to heal its own injuries and to restore the balance of the tissues, releasing tension and allowing the body to move towards full health. The body’s reaction to assessment and treatment informs the osteopath’s approach, allowing a gradual focus to move towards the underlying problem, which can then be addressed.

The term cranial osteopathy implies that the head is the be-all and end-all of an osteopath’s attention, but this is far from the case. It includes the head but does not neglect the rest of the body. The skills in palpation, the feeling of discovering the health of all the body’s tissues, are seen as crucial in managing problems in the tissues of the whole body, not just the head.

Cranial osteopathy is based on the idea, somewhat controversial, that there are gentle and rhythmic pulsations in the brain and spinal cord which can be assessed and treated by a practitioner.

It Seems A Very Passive Approach, How Can It Do Any Good?

If you watch a practitioner performing cranial osteopathy treatment, you won’t think anything is happening at all. However, a trained cranial osteopath aims to tap into the body’s anatomy and function, feeling carefully for the hints that the body is giving in the changes he or she can feel under their hands. The practitioner reads the story of what emotional or physical insults the body has suffered and how it has reacted to try and correct them.

The body has a powerful and natural ability to heal its own problems and keep itself balanced at the best point for health. The osteopath can unblock any barriers to this internal strength and allow the body to re-balance its systems.

Who Can Be Helped by Cranial Osteopathy?

Cranial osteopaths think holistically, treating a person rather than just applying a technique to a condition. The approach is used for babies, children, adults and the elderly, with people noting improvements in many areas of their lives.

Cranial osteopathy is used for a wide range of conditions which can include disturbed sleep, migraine, irritable bowel, asthma, neck pain and back pain, Ménière’s disease, and problems in babies and toddlers. In serious conditions such as cancer, treatment can relieve tension and stresses, leading to increased relaxation.

What’s It Like to have Cranial Osteopathy?

Overall the sessions are very relaxing and gentle. You may be aware of varying mild sensations such as warmth, relaxation, sensitivity, aching or mild tensions. Many patients don’t feel anything particular at all during the sessions but do feel the changes after the session has ended. It’s so relaxing that falling asleep during treatment is quite common.

Cranial Osteopathy for Back Pain

Results from studies have shown that 64% of patients report improvement in their back pain symptoms. So whatever pain symptoms you have, a cranial osteopath may help you navigate a successful road towards getting good results and getting back to the life you want to lead.

Cranial Osteopathy is just for Babies?

Most people think of treating babies when they think of cranial osteopathy. And it’s true that gentle techniques such as cranial osteopathy are particularly suited to very young people whose skeletons and body tissues are not yet fully developed.

However, cranial osteopathy is not just for babies, it can be just as effective for the whole family, often following people as they grow through their lives. Despite its gentleness it can reveal injuries and pains from the past in people of all ages, being effective in treating people even after many years of problems.

Cranial Osteopathy Evidence

Osteopathy has not produced a large body of evidence to support the use of cranial osteopathy to help people with musculoskeletal and other problems. Work is continuing to show some promise in promoting these techniques for the holistic care of people with a wide variety of problems in life.

Cranial Osteopathy – NHS

Osteopathy or cranial osteopathy are not widely available on the NHS. Most practitioners are private and you do not need a referral from a doctor to book yourself in for a consultation. Osteopaths are regulated by law in the UK and must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council to practise as an osteopath.

How do I find Cranial Osteopathy near me?

On our site,, you can search for an osteopath or a cranial osteopath near you so you can get the treatment you are looking for.