I have recently been taking my daughter to a cranial osteopath for chronic backache. She fell off a climbing frame last year and, although has been given the all clear by the NHS, she occasionally complains of a sore back, particularly after Jiu Jitsui. I decided that, apart from hot baths and pain relief medication, we could try out cranial osteopathy as I have had very positive experiences of it in the past. We go to St David's Osteopathic Clinic in Exeter, where we see Colin Crewdson who treated me approximately 11 years ago.
After the birth of my first child, whilst resident in Altrincham, Cheshire, I took my baby, still rampant with alleged "colic" at aged 8 months old, to see Alexandra McCann, as a last-ditch attempt to get more than 4 hours sleep a night. His birth was a protracted, 30 hours+ affair, as he was facing my front, rather than my back, which places undue pressure (other than that already incurred during birth) on baby's skull, as he twisted and turned his way out. Apparently, his fontanelles were still rigid. These are soft spots which allow for easy (pah!) passage of the skull through the birth canal, and which close in the weeks following birth. So Alexandra used cranial osteopathic techniques to help ease his battered skull which, she told me, would prevent the almost certain almighty headache the poor mite was encountering everytime he lay down. It worked. He slept. Can't get him out of bed now...(about to hit his teens).
So, whilst I was there, watching him being treated, I asked about my continually niggly, achey back and ended up forking out for some treatment myself. My sessions were a lot more physical and involved Alexandra pushing my back around which made the popping sounds associated with joint manipulation.
She also used ultrasound heat treatment and prescribed abdominal exercises to coax my stretched muscles back into the natural, supportive corset to protect my back. My back felt much better.
After child #2 arrived, after another prolonged labour which involved him actually coming out the wrong way (with larger part of skull descending = more pressure on his skull) I decided to take him along for the treatment. Now in Exeter I settled on St David's Osteopathic Clinic. Again, my back was feeling painful and fragile (apparently posterior births - where the baby lies facing the front rather than the back- cause a lot more pressure on the mother's spine). I decided to have some treatment myself. So I lay down on the couch, wondering where all the equipment was...
As I lay there, staring at the poster pinned to the ceiling, admiring the house plants, the quietness of the clinic and the beautiful view of the wooded area outside, Colin sat on a chair behind me and placed his hands beneath my back...and I waited for the action...but it wasn't happening. Eventually I tuned into the fact that Colin's fingertips were very slowly and gently moving underneath me. My thought was "how is this going to do anything to my back?". So I waited, and he carried on his gentle manipulation and eventually I felt a very curious sensation. It is hard to articulate but the closest thing I can describe it to is that it felt like my spine had become liquid. It had been rigid and now it was melting underneath Colin's fingers. I left the session feeling slightly lightheaded and with less tension in my back.
I went back for more. I was astonished during one session when he asked me if I had had some bad news that week. I had just found out that a close friend was dying of a brain tumour. He felt the tension in my chest.
On the final session I drifted off to sleep - I felt utterly, blissfully relaxed and at peace.
So, I am hoping that my daughter gets a bit of that. We have been for 2 sessions so far and there has been improvement in her back pain. She felt very lightheaded after the first session; not quite so much after the second but she did look like she was drifting off mid-session (lots of heavy blinking going on).
12 years after my first osteopathic treatment I have learned a lot about the mind-body connection (there is no division, but we Westerners like to see it so) and about how emotions are stored by the body. One effect of a body therapy such as osteopathy is that it can help the body to let go of stored emotions.
Last week I asked Colin about cranial osteopathy and emotions and he said that yes, people do sometimes have an emotional response with their treatment, and agreed that chronic back pain and low emotional states are interlinked (something I have noticed with counselling clients).
For those clients that do have ongoing back problems, or other, structural or joint issues, I would highly recommend osteopathic treatement and in particular, the gentle, non-invasive and yet powerful technique of cranial osteopathy.