Craniosacral therapy (CST) uses a gentle touch to manipulate the joints in the cranium or skull, parts of the pelvis, and the spine. It releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain, boost your immune system, and improve whole-body health and performance. Heal migraines, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), headaches & chronic pain.

What Is Craniosacral Therapy (CST)?

In 1970 John Upledger invented Craniosacral Therapy as an alternative form of cranial osteopathy. The therapy is commonly known to manipulate the joints of the skull or the cranium, different parts of the pelvis and the spine through gentle touch and treat diseases. 

Craniosacral therapy is a popular therapy known, and the practitioners use it to treat many other health conditions. You need to know the brighter and the shadier side of the treatment.

The first thing that to know is that CST is a non-invasive treatment procedure and aims at improving the healing system of the body. The therapy tries to release the restrictions of the craniosacral system with the help of touch below five gms. CST helps the central nervous system to improve its functioning. The light touch of the CST is also helpful for the pressure and the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. [1,7]

Cerebrospinal fluid is present around the spinal cord and the brain. The entire process relieves pain and other dysfunctions from the body. The practitioners consider performing the CST, along with other treatment measures and therapies. 

See: I tried Acupuncture when nothing else worked and I am pain free

How Does CST Work?

The brain and the central nervous system operate the body functions. Craniosacral therapy helps in maintaining the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. Thus, the treatment has its effect and impacts on body functioning. Craniosacral therapy is highly influential to the central nervous system. [8]

Every day our body gets affected by a certain level of stress, and sometimes the changes occur, tighten the tissues and also alter the craniosacral system. The alteration of the craniosacral system causes tension around the spinal cord and the brain and leads to restrictions. The restriction created can be a barrier to the strong performance of the central nervous system. 

Craniosacral therapy aims to detect those restrictions through soft touch. The practitioners mostly use their hands to evaluate the craniosacral system while touching various locations of the body. [2] They also try to ease out the motion of the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and the spinal cord. Any restriction found in any tissue which is influencing the craniosacral system is then released. 

It helps in regularizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord and enhances the capability of the body for self-healing. From chronic pains to sports injuries, the therapy can benefit the impairment of any dysfunction.

See: The impact of acupuncture and craniosacral therapy interventions on clinical outcomes in adults with asthma.

Craniosacral Therapy Techniques

What Are the Craniosacral Therapy Techniques? 

Once you fix an appointment, the first thing that the practitioner may ask you is about the preexisting problem or symptoms that you are facing. [4]

You can wear comfortable clothing during the therapy as you can be in your whole cloth during the same. The CST may last for an hour, and you will be lying down on your back upon the massage table. The practitioner may start the therapy from any part of your body, including the head, feet, or near to the middle of the body.

The practitioner will then try to listen to the subtle rhythm while putting five gms of pressure gently on your sacrum, head or feet if any need is detected. The practitioner will press or reposition to normalize the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. The patients during the therapy may have some different feelings, including deep relaxation, sleep, pins and needles sensation, or hot and cold sensation. 

See: 34 Year Old Female Finds Relief with Ayurvedic Treatment for Migraine Pain

Craniosacral Therapy Benefits

Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy: [3]

The therapy is hugely beneficial to relieve compression in the neck, head, and back. It can help a person to reduce mental and physical stress and tension. CST restores the cranial mobility and releases any restriction from the region. 

The therapy helps in removing the blockages in the normal flow of the cerebrospinal fluid and increase the self-healing power if the body. Chiropractors, Osteopaths, massage and physical therapists can perform the craniosacral therapy. 

Depending upon what do you want to treat through craniosacral therapy, you may need to go for 3 to 10 sessions to get the ultimate benefit. You can ask your healthcare practitioner about the number of sessions that you will need for your health condition.

Mostly the CST is known for treating health conditions like: [5]

Usual headaches and migraine pain

Insomnia or a disturbed sleeping cycle

Neck, Back pain

Fibromyalgia

Constipation

Irritable bowel syndrome

Ear infections in infants

Anxiety disorder and depression

Difficulty in pregnancy

There are many pieces of evidence to establish the benefit of CST. But there are many studies and researches taking place still to scientifically determining the efficiency of the therapy. Studies have found that CST is advantageous and can be a preferable treatment measure. 


See: Ayurveda Treatment for Migraine

Craniosacral Therapy Side Effects

Craniosacral Therapy Dangers

There is no life taking or severe side effect found while undergoing the therapy or after the completed treatment. But the most common side effect that one can experience while getting it done from an experienced and licensed practitioner even is mild discomfort. The side effect is very temporary and lasts not more than 24 hours. 

To keep yourself safe from the possible craniosacral therapy dangers, a particular group of people must not opt for it at all. These include people who have:

Severe Blood-Related problems and disorders

Aneurysm 

Medical background of head injury and may lead to bleeding

See: Neck pain relief through Chiropractic treatment for the migraine

Research studes in craniosacral therapy

Scientific Studies In CST

Various researches and studies found that craniosacral therapy is beneficial when combined with other conventional treatments. [6]

In one research study held in 2010 found that the therapy works efficaciously upon patients who have fibromyalgia. The patients who received the treatment also experienced improvements in their pain

Another study based on CST found that the treatment is also beneficial for the patients suffering from an anxiety disorder, and they also could improve their quality of life with the help of this therapy. 

Asthma patients found some potential benefits of craniosacral therapy when they have undergone the treatment along with conventional treatment methods like inhalers and medicines.

The therapy helps improve the ability of people suffering from multiple sclerosis wit lower urinary tract symptoms to empty their bladder. 

See: Migraines vs Headaches treatment

References

1. Craniosacral Therapy, book by John Upledger, Edited by Donald Novey, 2000.

2. Craniosacral Therapy, Russell J, American Cancer Society, page 187-189

3. The clinical benefits of craniosacral therapy (A systematic review to evaluation), 456-465, 2012

4. Does spinal manipulative therapy help people with chronic low back pain? 277-284, 2002, Aust J Physiother

5. Multipractitioner Upledger Craniosacral Therapy, Page 13-17, 2007-2008, Harrison RE

6. A physiology of cranial osteopathy, page 74-84, Ferguson A, 2003

7. Complementary and alternative medicine: perception and use by physiotherapists in the management of low back pain. 149-154, 2011

8. The global burden of neck pain: estimates from the global burden of disease, a study of 2010, 2014, Hoy D, March L, 1309-1315

See: Potential of Disease Prevention with Panchakarma Therapy

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