Cranial Osteopath for Back Pain 

Back pain can be severe and debilitating usually in acute episodes or ongoing dull achy pain as part of a chronic pain condition. Back pain affects the whole person being uncomfortable, physically and mentally fatiguing which will affect all aspects of your life and others around you. Back pain is very common and a costly problem (Maniadakis & Gray 2000). Indeed up to 60% of the adult population can expect to have low back pain at some time in their life (NICE 2020). In this article we will discuss why back pain could occur and how cranial osteopath could help reduce your back pain.

Reasons for Lower Back Pain

The most common reasons which contribute to feeling LBP are prolonged sitting at your desk and lack of exercise. Along with lifting items incorrectly and causing injuries. These can cause an additional mechanical load onto your lower back and cause a strain onto your muscles, ligaments and joints. In addition, typically movements will make it worse and resting will help ease your tensions.

Treatments For Back Pain

Systemic review research suggests osteopathy is effective in pain levels and functional status improvements in chronic lower back pain patients. A recent randomised controlled trial evaluated the effects of cranial osteopathy on disability, pain intensity, quality of life, and mobility in patients with low back pain. Ten sessions resulted in a statistically greater improvement in pain intensity and hemoglobin oxygen saturation. Also systolic blood pressure, serum potassium, and magnesium levels in comparison to 10 massage sessions massage in patients with chronic low back pain.

What Does Cranial Osteopathy Include? 

Reduces stress and pain and promotes well-being. Cranial Osteopathy is a gentle hands on treatment which is applied mainly on the tissues of the head however can also be used on different parts of your body. Cranial Osteopathy works on the principles that gentle manipulation of your joints and tissues can reduce pains and promote overall physical well-being. Treatment can be deeply relaxing and works with your body to activate the innate ability of the body to heal itself to remove restrictions and provide support to bring the tissues back into a state of balance. At Wellthy Clinic we offer Cranial Osteopathy for adults.

Can I Benefit from This Treatment ?

Yes for reducing back pain, we think so. We have helped many clients with back pains, cranial osteopathy for TMJ, headaches, tinnitus, sleep issues and many more conditions. Cranial Osteopathy has a gentle approach but it can be really powerful with positive effects. Although the name would suggest treating just your head there are techniques to treat the whole body. Still perplexed, see our cranial manipulation what is it & does it really work article.    

How Long Does It Take to Work?

The majority of our patients experience a positive reduction in pain severity and intensity after 3 or 4 sessions. However it depends on the patients ability to heal, their vitality and barriers to recovery. This is why in addition to hands on treatment we also give exercise, lifestyle and nutrition advice to give your body the best chance of recovery. 

So why Try C O?

Cranial Osteopaths are highly skilled in assessing the mechanics of your whole body and specialise with back pain. The gentle techniques are really useful to identify stresses and strains and help reduce these tensions. We aim to reduce your pains, increase your movement and get you feeling better as quickly as possible. 

What is the Difference between Osteopathy and Cranial Osteopathy?

The treatment techniques, generally speaking Cranial Osteopathy has a more gentle approach. Whilst Osteopathy can use more direct structural techniques. However both have the same narrative that we recognise the body’s ability to heal if restrictions are removed to promote healing. The challenge is to identify the restrictions by working with the patients as these can be biological, psychological and social factors which are contributing towards your symptoms or preventing healing. At Wellthy Clinic we are trained in both treatment styles so can use one style or the other or both within a session depending on the clients and the presentation.  

What are the Causes of my Back Pain?

There are many different reasons for back pain and sometimes it is an accumulation of things not just one specific injury that can result in you experiencing back pain. Indeed, it is important to understand the cause, in order for the treatment to be effective as possible. As osteopaths we specialise in treating back pain and we see patients present with back pain every day. We have listed a few common causes below but the list is not exhaustive by any means. 

Lifting injuries 

More typically back pain can be caused by a specific accident or trauma like flexing forwards to pick something up ‘when you felt go back go’. It could have been lifting children, happen when you were gardening, doing housework or indeed at work. Maybe the weight you were lifting wasn’t that heavy but it could have been lifting with poor technique or your back was already under stress and this was your body’s way of telling you to look after them! 

Falls

When you take a fall there can be a lot of force transference going through your spine to absorb the shock. This can overload your spine whilst twisted which can strain your spinal joints and discs. We often see people who have fallen onto their bottoms slipping on ice, or snowboarding which affects your coccyx and sacrum and can be very painful whilst sitting down. Likewise sports people who have landed awkwardly causing lower back, neck or even head pain.   

Direct Injury

Direct injuries from kicks or blows especially if repetitive (rugby and boxing) will take its toll onto your spine. Issues may develop gradually over a period of time or even years afterwards. Especially a blow to your head or road traffic accident will affect your cranial bones and could have a knock on effect to the rest of your body through postural adaptations.    

Accumulation of stresses in the body

Back pain doesn’t have to follow a specific incident sometimes it is an accumulation of stresses which result in back pain. As an example it could be an office worker has been working like crazy for the last 2 weeks to hit a Christmas deadline with long hours seated at a desk with reduced physical activity, stressed, not sleeping very well, not drinking enough water, too much coffee and used to have back pains in the past. He/She hit the deadline and then have the Christmas office party to celebrate and drink lots of alcohol. The following day he/she goes to pick up something up off the floor and experiences huge back pain. Was it lifting the object or accumulation of everything leading up to that moment? Our bodies are incredibly adaptable but sometimes we just ask too much of them, it’s our bodies way of telling us to stop.

Childbirth Strains

During childbirth the mother’s pelvis can become distorted as the baby’s head descends. In many cases distortion corrects itself, but if severe it can remain for many years and disrupt spinal and pelvic mechanics. This can cause very diverse symptoms including backache, constipation, stress incontinence, headaches, disruption of periods when they start again, and even postnatal depression. See our page on osteopathy for pregnancy and childbirth.

Why is my Lower Back Worse in the Morning?

It is normal for your LBP to feel worse first thing in the morning, this is a normal inflammatory picture. Inflammation is your body’s response to injury or insult and when you are sleeping the body sees this as a good opportunity to heal. Therefore you feel worse first thing in the morning as this process is still finishing but after you get up, have breakfast and a shower your symptoms should become a little easier. Typically as you head in the right direction the level of pain will reduce or you experience the symptoms for less time which is a good sign. Of course if there is no improvement with your symptoms then see your Osteopath or GP.

How Do I Know if my Bed is Causing Back Pain?

It is important to address your mattress and pillows as if this are old (more than 8 years old) and need changing this will not help. Typically we suggest a relatively firm pillow which keeps your head in the mid line (same line as your sternum) if you are lying onto your side. Ideally not a really thin pillow that you head is sidebending or a really big pillow that your head is sidebending the other way. In addition, as for mattresses we prefer pocket sprung mattresses which are relatively firm which support your spinal curves whilst you sleep. Ideally not really soft mattresses that your body sinks into the mattress and gives no support. If you are still unsure then get in contact with us.

How Do I Know if my Back Pain is Serious?

LBP can also be a result from other underlying conditions which refer to your lower back. These could be from your kidneys, digestive system and reproductive system to name a few. Typically you will experience constant pains and rest doesn’t necessarily help ease your tensions. In which case seek advise from your GP.

How is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed?

It’s not necessary to see your GP to gain a LBP diagnosis. Manual therapists (Osteopaths, physiotherapists or chiropractors) are able to diagnose low back pain more specifically. They will take a full case history and perform a physical examination with testing. Give you a diagnosis so you understand the cause of your pains and proceed with treatment.

What Happens at your First Osteopath Appointment?

During your first consultation a full case history will be taken to get an understanding about you. Then your presenting problem/s and current health situation will be discussed.

We will then assess your posture, ask you to perform some active movements. After that assess your joint ranges of motion passively and maybe perform some other tests. Moreover you will be given a explanation of the as to what is happening. Then we will then discuss your treatment options and agree with you on the type of treatment most suitable for your symptoms.

Can Osteopathy Help a Bad Back?

Yes! Our Osteopath Marylebone specialise in treating clients with back pain. Whether it has just started and it’s really painful or whether you have experienced back pains for years we would suggest trying Cranial Osteopathy to help reduce your pains.  

Matthew Glithero

Matthew Glithero

Matthew is an Osteopath (MOsT) and Cranial Osteopath who conducted post graduate training with the Sutherland College of Cranial Osteopathy.

More Resources For Back Pain

Cranial Osteopath for Back Pain References

Castro-Sanchez et al (2016) Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine; 22(8): pp.650-7.

Dal Farra et al (2021) Effectiveness of osteopathic interventions in chronic non-specific low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis Complementary Therapies in Medicine

Licciardone, J., S. Stoll, et al. (2003). “Osteopathic manipulative treatment for chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial.” Spine 28(13): 1355-62.

Maniadakis N, Gray A (2000). The economic burden of back pain in the UK. Pain; 84:95-103.

NICE (2020) Back pain – low (without radiculopathy): How common is it?

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