Cranial osteopathy, as the name implies, involves the manipulation and flexing of the bones of the skull. However, it is not exclusive to the head. Cranial osteopathy also includes adjustment and flexing of the sacral vertebrae and the pelvis. The sacral vertebrae, or sacrum, join the spine to the pelvis.
When Dr. William Sutherland developed the theory and practice of cranial osteopathy in the late 1890s and early 1900s, he discovered that the bones of the skull do, in fact, have some flexibility and movement between them in adulthood. These joints between skull bones were usually considered flexible only in infants, when the infant skull’s softness helps in the birth process.
The skull’s joints eventually close up and the bone hardens. But some flexibility remains – quite a bit, Dr. Sutherland discovered. Dr. Sutherland experimented extensively on himself, and then applied his methods to his patients, often with miraculous results.
For migraine sufferers, cranial osteopathy holds great promise. Cranial osteopaths recognize that no body system is isolated, and while the head is the focus of migraine pain, cranial osteopathy is, ultimately, a whole-body treatment. Some osteopaths look at jaw misalignment, dental work, and tension as possible causes for migraines.
Cranial osteopaths have successfully treated migraines in one session, and they claim it takes only a few sessions for patients to remain free of pain long term. For those who find deeper, personal healing in cranial osteopathic treatment, returning regularly for some time is helpful for complete healing. Even after healing, some people return because the treatment has changed their perception and improved their overall outlook.
In a typical session, the migraine sufferer lies on an air mattress fully clothed. The cranial osteopath then looks for the “cranial rhythm.” This is how various bodily rhythms manifest – for example, the rhythms between inhalation and exhalation and between the spinal cord and brain are said to be manifestations of the cranial rhythm. For the migraine sufferer, this area of disturbance may or may not be located in the skull.
The cranial osteopath identifies the source of disturbance in the cranial rhythm. The practitioner then places his or her hands over the problem area, working and “following” it through the body until it releases and ultimately dissipates.
At this point, the tension, misalignment, or other energy disruption that was causing the migraine pain is relieved. The body then functions more normally, making a recurrence of a migraine far less likely.
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