Cranial Osteopath - W G Sutherland

Founder – William Garner Sutherland

Professional Cranial Osteopathy in Winchester, Hampshire.

Cranial osteopathy is a highly refined and subtle form of osteopathic treatment that encourages the release of tension throughout the head and whole body. It is a gentle yet extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age. Osteopaths may have different specialities including sports injuries, paediatrics, and visceral osteopathy.  Cranial Osteopathy includes all of these.


For instance, did you think that your spine fiinishes at the top of your neck? Well actually it doesn’t. What are called the midline cranial and facial bones are really an extension of your spine. If these midline cranial and facial bones are out of alignment they can cause misalignment of the neck, lower back and pelvis. This could cause shoulder, hip and knee problems for instance.

These misalignments are quite common and can be caused by things as varied as: Birth trauma, whiplash, dental treatment, poor posture, emotional trauma and leg length differences. It is well known that strains through the occiput (the bone that sits on top of your neck) and the sacrum (the bone that sits between your hip bones) interconnect mechanically through your spine. If one end is out of alignment the other end will have to compensate in sympathy. This can cause a twisting in the spinal column. So both ends (head and pelvis) must be checked and adjusted together to restore harmony.


When the spine is twisted slightly this can put pressure on the nerves that exit the sides of the spinal column. If this pressure is slight it may cause changes of tone of the muscles supplied by the nerves. This may manifest as pain in certain muscles and joints supplied by those nerves. If the pressure on the nerves exiting either side of the spinal column is greater, it may cause a thing called nerve root irritation. This may cause pain, sensation changes or weakness in the arms or legs. So you can see how important correct alignment of the midline bones of the head and pelvis are, because this keeps the spine from twisting out of shape.


Another possible disruption from misalignment of the cranial and pelvic bones is to cause imbalance in the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Did you know that a twist through your occiput or pelvis could potentially, over time, lead to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This happens by dampening down the calming effects of the vagus nerve and sacral plexus.

The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. The occipitomastoid suture is a crack between the occipital bone and the mastoid part of the temporal bone. It is about two inches behind your ear. Is it tender when you press there? This may that your vagus nerve is being slightly compressed.

The vagus nerve innervates your gut, amongst other things. If compressed, then the gut can become sluggish and, over time, ‘toxic’, causing uncomfortable bowel symptoms. Part of the sacral plexus (ANS) that exits from your sacrum innervates the lower part of your digestive system. If your pelvis is twisted or jammed this may also cause IBS symptoms such as constipation, cramps or bloating.

Cranial Osteopathy and Migraine Headaches – A Doctor’s view

Doctors are by nature a fairly sceptical bunch of people and, as such, I approached cranial-osteopathy with distinct misgivings. However, I had been recommended to try it by a good friend and so I did.

I have suffered from severe and frequent migraine headaches for many years. The headaches are often triggered by shoulder and neck exercise and over a period of time they stopped me riding, sailing, gardening, dancing. Even fairly innocuous activities like a medium length walk, standing for a period in the kitchen cooking, ironing, often provoked a migraine headache the following day. My life became very restricted. Over a period of perhaps twenty years I saw a number of specialists from various disciplines but with no success.

I have to say that cranial osteopathy changed everything for me. My husband, also a doctor, whose life was unhappily impacted upon by my problems has been equally delighted and will testify that although we do not understand how this treatment works, it has worked, and very emphatically for me. It feels as if we have got our lives back.

I am gradually resuming all the hobbies and sports – including fiddle playing, which I had had to give up – and my life is returning to normal. I don’t get up in the morning any more wondering if I’m going to be struck down today. And, most surprisingly, we have managed to get back to doing some adventurous sailing, which I had never imagined would be possible.

So I offer my most sincere thanks to Tim for the very significant part he has played in my recovery and I wish him success in the work he is doing.

Dr Anne Young

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