Last week, I read a great post about what cranial osteopathy is and what it is often confused with (cranial sacral therapy, reiki, fish slapping). It is written by a UK osteopath with 20 years' experience and she puts it much better than I can. Her site osteofm is a great resource for osteopathic news and discussion.
Here is an except from her post:
(Cranial osteopathy) is not a completely different treatment modality from “structural”. There is a continuum of osteopathic techniques, from the stronger, coarser and more direct, to the subtler, gentler, lighter and more indirect. They are all based on osteopathic principles, freeing restrictions, restoring comfortable anatomical relationships, taking pressure off co pressed areas and so on, and I would argue that they affect the body on different levels from gross to subtle, and mainly differ in their strength and direction of application.
Different patients and situations need different kinds of treatment, and the best osteopaths can do all kinds. To be a good all rounder is the ideal, but good all rounders are as rare in osteopathy as in the English cricket team. Most osteopaths find their place somewhere along the spectrum. Some at the extremely mechanistic end often can’t feel or understand the subtler end, and might dismiss it as flaky, self-delusional or ineffectual; some at the other extreme might feel that the stronger ones are often too forceful and lack insight and sensitivity and understanding of the body.
Hopefully patients end up selecting the practitioner, by trial and error, that works for them. There is not normal osteopathy (physical therapy) and weird osteopathy (faith healing). There is just osteopathy.
And yes, cranial osteopathy is badly named, as we work on more than just the head. Some of the phenomena we feel as practitioners and our patients experience may sound weird or far out, but it is very similar to what stroke survivor Jill Bolte told her audience at a Ted conference. She found that her perception switched, similar to what we experience in treatment, during a stroke in which only her right brain was working. Perhaps something happens in cranial treatments that gets our right brains firing? That's my guess.
It’s estimated half of all pregnant women suffer from some kind of lower back pain during pregnancy or after their pregnancies.
German researchers found that new mums who received osteopathic treatment were in less pain then those who didn't. In the 2 month study, 80 women, aged 23 to 42, with low back pain were surveyed at three to 15 months postpartum.
Women in one group received four osteopathic treatments at two week intervals, while participants in the control group did not receive therapy and were not allowed any additional pain relief treatment, such as medication.
On average, those who received osteopathic manipulative therapy reported a 73 per cent decrease in pain, compared to only seven per cent in the control group.
Every pregnancy is different, but back and pubic pain is common in the second half of the pregnancy. When it comes to the delivery, it can take anything from 30 minutes to 3 days! Some women end up with interventions like forceps, caesarean or episiotomies. So there are a lot of reasons to for women to get treated after giving birth.
Fellow osteopath and mum of two, Dr Caroline Teh, puts it really well:
“Then, you’ve got the postures of breastfeeding, you’re lifting your baby in and out of a car, you’re lifting a baby in and out of a capsule - so that combined with the strains of labour and strains of pregnancy as well can lead to lower back pain and problems.”
When I walk the dog, it's my podcast-listening time. My favourite is Radiolab, and this recent one had me gobsmacked. It's about a couple having twins, but very early on, they learn that one of the twins won't survive due to a severe malformation of the brain (anencephaly). Despite the tragedy of losing a child a week after the birth, the couple decide to donate Thomas' organs.
The podcast tracks down some of the research labs which received Thomas' genetic material. Because Thomas and his surviving brother Callum are identical twins, it can really help us understand how the same embryos in the same womb can develop in vastly different ways.
So how does this relate to osteopathy? Osteopaths, especially cranial osteopaths, are fascinated by embryology. This study of how external factors can influence prenatal development is called epigenetics. In the future, epigenetics may help explain why some babies are born with cleft palates, tongue ties or hip dysplasia. One of the research projects found that there were 1000 epigenetic differences between Thomas and Callum, which obviously had a profound effect on life and death. Listening to this podcast really made me appreciate how much of nature we don't understand and take for granted.
We get asked this question a lot. I mean, A LOT. Clare Richardson, from wellbeing.com.au, does a commendable job explaining the history behind each modality.
Often, we find ourselves doing a bit of everything, and then some. If you've hurt yourself, we'll look at the site of the pain, as well as what other factors could be maintaining that state of inflammation. If your problem is postural, we'll definitely give you exercises and stretches to prevent recurrence. Our technique choice is based on patient preference and what we think will help the most.
And, as Clare Richardson adds, the most important thing is to find a practitioner you can trust and relate to.
Every so often, we'll hear of someone's child having grommets put in, to prevent recurrent ear infections. According to Medicalobserver.com.au, there is a new technique available to GPs that would avoid surgery.
The intervention is called autoinflation, and it involves using a nasal balloon, says Professor Chris Del Mar from Bond University, UK.
The first large randomised controlled trial involved 320 children, with recent history of otitis media and effusion, and confirmed fluid in one or both ears, from 43 family practices in the UK.
Children receiving autoinflation 3 times a day for 1–3 months were more likely than those in a control group receiving usual care to have normal middle-ear pressure, measured by tympanogram, at both one month (47.3% vs 35.6%) and three months (49.6% vs 38.3%) and to have fewer days with symptoms,
including common colds and earaches
“We have found use of autoinflation in young, school-aged children with otitis media with effusion to be feasible, safe and effective in clearing effusions, and in improving important ear symptoms, concerns and related quality of life over a three-month watch-and-wait period,” the authors write.
Professor Del Mar says there are few effective treatments in primary care. Antibiotics have been shown in a Cochrane systematic review to be ineffective, and surgically inserted grommets have no benefit beyond six months and have no effect on speech and language development.
From an osteopathic perspective, children between the ages of 2 to 4 are most likely to develop otitis media due to the angle of the ear canal. In adults, it is at a slight incline and so helps with drainage. In young children, the ear canal is more horizontal so fluid can get caught in the ears more easily. Osteopaths who have experience treating such conditions will use gentle cranial/biodynamic techniques to improve the circulation and drainage through the head naturally.
Read more about glue ear at the ABC Health & Wellbeing site.
There's nothing like a good night's sleep. Now, scientists have uncovered why this may be the case. It turns out that the brain “washes itself” with increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) when we are at rest.
This newly-discovered process of how the brain gets rid of unwanted toxins and byproducts is called the glymphatic system. In fact, to help with this daily “flush”, the brain cells shrink, increasing the space between cells by 60 per cent in volume. This allows the CSF to flow up to 20 times faster during the cleaning cycle.
However, scientists aren't quite sure why this only happens during sleep and not all the time. One possible reason is that it is quite energy intensive, so the brain needs to be less active while it's getting cleaned. "You can think of it like having a house party," says Maiken Nedergaard, the study's lead author. "You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can't do both at once."
This may be why cranial osteopathic treatments are so relaxing! We often have patients tell us, “I think I fell asleep for a moment just now.”
When treating the head, osteopaths check for symmetry, congestion and whether there is good movement and flow through all the structures in the head and neck. Cranial osteopathic techniques are especially effective for the treatment of fatigue, headaches, jaw problems as well as to restore a sense of well-being. We also look to restore the relationship between the brain and CSF, as the brain should naturally feel buoyant, like a cork on the ocean and not like a rock on the seabed!
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.