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What is cranial osteopathy?

At Health Within Osteopathy, our expertise includes Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, commonly known as cranial osteopathy. This subtle and refined form of treatment uses gentle, manipulative contact to release stresses throughout the body, enabling the patient’s own healing mechanisms to take effect. Cranial osteopaths work by manipulating the body’s subtle rhythms that influence the nervous system, blood flow, lymphatic system, and musculoskeletal structure, to promote holistic health and a state of balance.

What to expect during treatment

A baby boy has his head resting on a pillow, while an osteopath is treating him using cranial osteopathy with her hands under his head.

During your visit, your osteopath will take a detailed medical history and perform a thorough examination. Treatment by a cranial osteopath typically involves the osteopath placing their hands under your head, back, pelvis, or feet. Many patients find these sessions deeply relaxing, often falling asleep as their body releases built-up tensions. This relaxation is a sign that the body is moving toward healing and balance.

The therapeutic process

Cranial osteopathy involves more than just treating symptoms. It first brings the patient to a relaxed, neutral state by balancing the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions like heart rate and stress responses. Once in this state, the osteopath uses gentle pressure to guide the body through a self-healing process, helping to balance tissues and fluids and restore them to a healthy state. This method can address both recent and long-standing issues by releasing accumulated strains and stresses.

Who can benefit?

Cranial osteopathy is very gentle approach that is suitable for patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. While it is particularly well-known for treating babies and children, adults can also experience significant benefits. Conditions that may be treated include musculoskeletal pain, digestive issues, headaches, and stress-related symptoms. The holistic nature of this osteopathic treatment often results in improvements across various systems of the body, not just the primary area of concern.

Scientific basis and efficacy

These techniques are deeply rooted in the practitioner’s extensive training in anatomy and physiology. Research shows benefits of cranial osteopathy for a wide range of conditions, including back pain and neck pain reduction1, improved feeding in babies2, better sleep3, reduced risk of sports injuries through enhanced balance4, concussion recovery5, improved visual function6, enhanced quality of life for individuals with jaw pain7, and better motor control8. Cranial osteopathy is safe and effective for all ages. Such findings support the broader application of these gentle techniques.

At Health Within Osteopathy, our dedicated team is committed to providing comprehensive care through both cranial and structural osteopathy. By addressing the whole body, we aim to help you achieve optimal health and well-being.


1. Verhaeghe et al. (2018) Osteopathic Care for Low Back Pain and Neck Pain: A Cost-Utility Analysis

2. Herzhaft-Le Roy et al. (2016) Efficacy of an Osteopathic Treatment Coupled With Lactation Consultations for Infants’ Biomechanical Sucking Difficulties: A Randomized Controlled Trial

3. Jäkel & von Hauenschild (2011) Therapeutic Effects of Cranial Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine: A Systematic Review

4. Van Burm & Goedhart (2017) Preliminary Evidence on the Efficacy of Cranial Osteopathy in Professional Football

5. Patel & Sabini (2018) Safety of Osteopathic Cranial Manipulative Medicine as an Adjunct to Conventional Postconcussion Symptom Management: A Pilot Study

6. Sandhouse et al. (2010) Effect of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field on Visual Function—A Pilot Study

7. Gesslbauer et al. (2018) Effectiveness of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Versus Osteopathy in the Cranial Field in Temporomandibular Disorders—A Pilot Study

8. Duncan et al. (2008) Effectiveness of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field and Myofascial Release Versus Acupuncture for Children with Spastic Cerebral Palsy: A Pilot Study