Margaret Sorrel, DO, FCA - Osteopathic Manual Medicine

Will medical insurance help with the cost of treatment?

Once upon a time virtually every insurance carrier reimbursed every patient 80% of the cost of treatment. No fuss, no muss, just a check in the mail. Ah, the good old days.

Insurance companies seem now to have decided that they know more about the practice of medicine than do physicians. And they believe they have the right to dictate the type of treatment appropriate for a particular medical problem. Reimbursement varies greatly from one policy to another.

Why is osteopathic manual treatment more expensive than chiropractic care, physical therapy, or cranio-sacral therapy?

Several reasons: Osteopathic physicians are fully licensed physicians. A first time appointment, including a full medical history, structural evaluation and treatment requires one hour, subsequent appointments are one half hour. So much is accomplished in an individual treatment that treatment almost never happens more than weekly (and often less frequently). So although the costs of an individual treatment are higher, many fewer appointments are generally needed to address the medical problem.

How can I find an osteopathic physician near me?

Both the American Academy of Osteopathy, or the Osteopathic Cranial Academy, have physician referral resources. The inclusion of cranial osteopathy is especially important in the treatment of children.

How long will it take to feel improvement?

This varies from one patient to another and depends too on the complexity of the problem. In general, children respond to treatment more quickly, but problems such as autism usually need ongoing care.

Can treatment help if my injury happened many years ago?

Yes, but it is likely to take more visits and the degree of improvement may be less than if your injury was recent.

Does treatment hurt?

Almost never. Occasionally it is necessary to dig into a particularly painful spot but often people leave a session wondering if anything happened at all, the treatment is so subtle. Sometimes a patient wakes the next morning in pain which is a treatment reaction, but this response is usually short lived. Babies will sometimes cry during treatment, but remember it is the only way they have to express their displeasure about anything. The treatment itself is not painful.

Is treatment safe for newborn babies?

Yes, although the osteopath must have training and experience working with newborns because working with them is different than working with a more mature body.

What is the difference between cranial osteopathy and cranio-sacral therapy?

The training for cranial osteopathy is much more extensive (and available only to physicians), the effectiveness for many problems is much greater, and the risk of inadvertent blunders is much less.

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is performed by a fully trained and licensed physician, most often a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). (A few Medical Doctors and dentists have availed themselves of the training necessary to utilize cranial osteopathy.) It is a gentle, hands-on treatment aimed at restoring normal body function by addressing bony, membranous and fluid components of the central nervous system.

It is based on a full knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology obtained through a four-year, complete, medical curriculum and residency training. In addition, specific training in cranial osteopathy is gained from an initial 40-hour course with a one-to-four teacher-student ratio. Most osteopathic physicians who include cranial work in their practices have taken multiple courses. Osteopathic physicians practicing manual medicine, including cranial osteopathy, utilize their complete medical training to diagnose and treat the full range of medical problems, from digestive to respiratory, neurologic to cardiovascular.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy

Cranio-sacral therapy is a related modality generally performed by physical therapists, licensed massage therapists and other allied health professionals. These practitioners do not have the medical training necessary to accurately diagnose or treat. There is no licensing for the practice of cranio-sacral therapy.

Cranio-sacral therapy concerns itself primarily with balancing fluids and energies of the body to promote good central nervous system functions. An individual is required to take a 24-hour course prior to practicing cranio-sacral therapy. These courses are often taught by one instructor with limited individualized instruction. Cranio-sacral therapists often utilize a generalized therapy protocol.

Although cranio-sacral therapists continue to provide safe and helpful care to many people, it is important to understand the limitations of the discipline.


A few examples from my own medical practice help to illustrate the inadvertent blunders which take place when medical problems are addressed by a non medically trained practitioner.

A baby was taken to a cranio-sacral therapist after a neurologist diagnosed a minor seizure disorder. She emerged from the C-S therapy session with a serious seizure problem. No medication had been recommended at the neurologist's visit. Medication was now absolutely necessary. Shortly thereafter, through my osteopathic cranial work, the baby became seizure free without medication.

An adolescent was brought to see me after a C-S therapist changed a minor headache problem into a disabling daily headache causing weeks of missed school. A full medical workup had not found a clear cause of these resulting severe headaches. The patient became headache-free through osteopathic cranial treatment.

An adult went to a C-S therapist seeking help with stress and anxiety. She left the session with a profound lightheadedness, dizziness and an unsteady gait. Her medical doctor diagnosed a cardiac arrhythmia (a problem she had never had before) and put her on medication. But the patient knew that this had been caused by the C-S therapy. A single osteopathic cranial treatment returned her to her previous state of health.

"A local chiropractor diagnosed our daughter with a 17-degree scoliosis at age eight. A year and a half of chiropractic adjustments two to four days a week, traction and home exercise reduced the curve to 11 degrees. The chiropractor was knowledgeable and genuinely interested in helping but the treatment course was long and we became concerned about hypermobility. After several recommendations, we sought care from Dr. Margaret Sorrel. We were immediately impressed with her calm demeanor, the questions she asked us and the answers she offered. We were surprised by the adjustments, expecting something akin to the chiropractic adjustments, popping and harsh movements. The adjustments were barely felt but the results were immediate. Within three sessions our daughter's spine was straight and it has remained so. We could not believe the difference. We are grateful to Dr. Sorrel for her gentle approach to family medicine."
— Kris B.


Margaret Sorrel, DO, FCA - All Rights Reserved © 2020