Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is probably the second most commonly known type of osteopathy in New Zealand. It concerns itself with the motion of the cranial (skull) bones and something called the craniosacral rhythm. Much like our blood circulating around out body, we have other such systems which provide the necessary nutrition to only specific parts of our body. Our central nervous system (CNS) - namely our brain and spinal cord - are the VIP's in our body. They have a private circulatory system which exclusively serves them. This is because the body wants to try and limit the spread of anything nasty - such as bacteria to these vital centres. So only the useful stuff from our blood such as oxygen and various nutritious elements are filtered into the cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) which then serves the CNS. This fluid is produced in waves and much like breathing has two phases - in and out.

The CSF is produced in special chambers in the head called ventricles. As it is produced it makes your head 'swell' slightly - we can term this the 'breath in'. As the fluid then slowly exits the skull and runs down the spinal cord it allows your head to 'shrink' again or take a 'breath out'. Unlike your breathing during which it takes only several seconds to complete a single breath - with the cranial rhythm it can take anywhere from 1-2 minutes up to an hour in some cases.

In cranial osteopathy we utilize this rhythm in order to gently mobilise certain restrictions within the cranial motion. As your head takes a 'breath in' - we feel for the amount of movement each of your cranial bones takes. Keep in mind we are talking about fractions of a millimeter. If all the bones but one are moving - we have our culprit. Using the rhythmical nature of CSF production we can gently encourage the bone that is stuck to join the others in their movement.

Anything from ongoing stress to a head injury to ear infections can cause cranial dysfunction. Also cranial is very commonly used for children and babies. For our paediatric patients, cranial represents a very effective way to address most problems which can affect them as their bodies are very pliant and easily affected by cranial dysfunction. In adults cranial is a very effective at improving sleep patterns, relieving stress or headaches.

After a cranial treatment it is common to feel sleepy or to need a longer sleep that night. This is a relaxation and readjustment period of the cranial rhythm.

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