What is Craniosacral Therapy?
Cransiosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on manual therapy that manipulates the joints in the cranium or skull, parts of the pelvis and the spine to release tensions deep in the body. The technique was pioneered, researched, and developed by Dr. John Upledger. Through a combination of cadaver dissection, clinical practice, and experience, Dr. Upledger observed that it was possible to have a therapeutic effect on the membranes and fluid that surround, protect, and nourish the brain and spinal cord. The technique uses a soft touch which is generally about 5 grams of manually applied pressure. This equates to roughly the weight of a nickel. Craniosacral therapists feel various locations of the body to test for the ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid as it moves around the brain and up and down the spinal cord. It is believed that by using this gentle therapy, it is possible to normalize the environment around the brain and spinal cord, which allows the body to self-correct a variety of dysfunctions.
Does Craniosacral Therapy Work?
A review of the research finds a combination of studies with promising results and others showing minimal effect. Much of the support for Craniosacral Therapy comes from anecdotal patient reports. Many patients try out CST after they have exhausted numerous other medical treatments that did not help them with their pain and symptoms. CST is currently used to manage a number of disorders including the following:
- Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury
- Migraines and Headaches
- Chronic Neck and Back Pain
- Stress and Tension-Related Disorders
- Motor-Coordination Impairments
- Infant and Childhood Disorders
- Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
- Chronic Fatigue
- TMJ Syndrome
- Central Nervous System Disorders
How Do We Use Craniosacral Therapy?
Our Doctors of Physical Therapy conduct an examination that reviews your medical history, functional limitations, and physical impairments. We help you understand if other medical referrals or testing are needed by screening for serious medical conditions. We then create a treatment plan to achieve both your personal goals and our physical therapy goals for you. Typically, we utilize Craniosacral Therapy as part of an overall treatment that also other manual therapies, therapeutic exercise, functional training, strengthening, conditioning, and instruction in a home program to encourage self management. While we acknowledge that there is currently a lack of strong medical research supporting the use of Craniosacral Therapy, there are scores of patient reports citing therapeutic benefits, alleviation of pain, and improvement in symptoms. We believe these reports support the use of CST as long as serious medical symptoms are not ignored (i.e. fevers, signs of infection, dangerously elevated blood pressure, unresponsiveness, etc.) and as long as CST is utilized in conjunction with other treatments and modalities. Craniosacral Therapy is a very relaxing, pleasant, and gentle treatment with very few negative side effects when compared to prolonged opioid usage, surgical risks, and other costly medical procedures.