- A.T. Still, Founder of Osteopathic Medicine.

Short answer: Depth and breadth of training of the practitioner.  

Cranial Osteopathy by definition is only done by DOs . DOs learn about this during medical school, but most DOs who utilize Osteopathy in the cranial field pursue additional rigorous and specific accredited education in this area.  See the extensive educational requirements for DOs above!​ MDs, DDSs, DMDs may also pursue additional training in and contribute to the scope of these principles. 

Craniosacral therapy is a simplified version taught to physical therapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists and other healthcare and even non-healthcare professionals.    

What's the difference between Cranial Osteopathy and Craniosacral Therapy? 

DOs and MDs complete 4 years of college, followed by 4  years of medical school, and then an additional  3-8 years of internships, residencies and fellowships after medical school.  That's at least 11 years of education!

DOs receive  extra training in treating the musculoskeletal system and use their hands to diagnose and treat illness and injury, utilizing the body's inherent ability to heal itself. This is usually called "osteopathic manual manipulation" (OMM) or "osteopathic manipulative treatment" (OMT). Throughout their training, DOs learn to treat the whole person, and learn the relationship of the body's  structure and function relating to disease and health instead of just treating diseases or symptoms. 

DOs, like MDs, have unlimited licenses in all 50 states and can prescribe medications, admit patients to the hospital, perform surgery, order the full array of available labs, tests and procedures and can practice in all the medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. 

Unlike DOs and MDs, Chiropractors do not go through such an extensive and rigorous educational process. They are not licensed physicians, they have limited licenses to practice manipulation of skeletal structures and other limited services. Chiropractors cannot prescribe medications, admit patients to the hospital, perform surgery, obstetrics, or Osteopathy.  

DOs can offer "something more" - a broader range of therapeutic options than MDs or Chiropractors!  


What's the difference between DOs, MDs and Chiropractors?