Massage

Craniosacral Therapy: A Natural Approach to Pain Relief

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For individuals suffering from neck pain and headaches, can craniosacral head massage therapy help provide relief?

Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy is a gentle massage to release fascia or connective tissue network tension. The therapy is not new but has gained new attention because of the public interest in natural pain treatments and therapies. Studies are limited, but clinical research is ongoing to see if the therapy can become a mainstream treatment option. The therapy aims to alleviate the symptoms of various health ailments and conditions, including:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Complex regional pain syndrome – CRPS
  • By relieving compression in the lower back, head, and spinal column, cerebrospinal fluid circulation is restored, and the body rhythms within the nervous system are reset. This provides pain relief, lowers stress, and improves overall well-being.

Massage Objectives

Several conditions and ailments said to benefit from craniosacral therapy include (Heidemarie Haller et al., 2019) (Heidemarie Haller, Gustav Dobos, and Holger Cramer, 2021)

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Tinnitus – ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Infantile colic
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD
  • Asthma
  • Therapy to relieve cancer treatment side effects.

The focus areas are those along the fascia, the connective tissue that holds organs, blood vessels, bones, nerve fibers, and muscles in place. By working this tissue through gentle-pressure massage, practitioners help to calm the fight-or-flight response by relaxing the sympathetic nervous system. The symptoms will determine what areas of the body necessitate craniosacral therapy. Individuals with headaches will be given a head or neck massage. Other areas involved in craniosacral therapy include: (Heidemarie Haller, Gustav Dobos, and Holger Cramer, 2021)

  • Back
  • Around the spinal column.
  • Other areas like the joints or muscles.
  • The pressure applied during craniosacral therapy is light and not the same as a deep tissue massage.
  • Light pressure is applied over the affected fascial tissue to help reset certain body rhythms that could play a role in pain and other symptoms. (Heidemarie Haller, Gustav Dobos, and Holger Cramer, 2021)

Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System

  • The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems control various body responses.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system supports proper rest and digestive functions, and the sympathetic nervous system regulates the body’s fight-or-flight response. (Cleveland Clinic. 2022)

Therapy Techniques

The massage techniques used in craniosacral therapy rely on low pressure intended to be as gentle as possible. The fingertips are often used to avoid applying too much pressure. Healthcare providers work the areas between the skull and the bottom of the spine to identify and reset imbalances within the body and the cerebrospinal fluid. If there is an imbalance in cerebrospinal fluid, the massage therapist will reposition the individual or press on the area to release and/or increase circulation. The techniques work to improve the body’s ability to regulate physiological responses. (Heidemarie Haller et al., 2019) During and after the session, individuals may experience different sensations, including: (Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, 2024)

  • Relaxation.
  • Feeling like being in a meditative state.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Energized.
  • Feeling a sense of warmth.
  • Deeper breathing.
  • Feeling the body is straighter and taller.

Individuals Who Should Not Receive Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy is considered safe; however, some individuals should avoid it or consult a healthcare provider before trying it. Those recommended not to receive the treatment include individuals with the following ailments or disorders:

  • Concussion or other traumatic brain injuries.
  • Blood clots.
  • Brain swelling.
  • Brain aneurysm – a blood-filled bulge in a blood vessel in or around the brain.
  • Conditions that cause cerebrospinal fluid buildup.

Treatment

Craniosacral therapy is offered by several healthcare providers, including:

  • Craniosacral therapy licensed massage therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Osteopaths
  • Chiropractors

These professionals know how to perform the massage technique correctly.


Tension Headaches


References

Haller, H., Lauche, R., Sundberg, T., Dobos, G., & Cramer, H. (2019). Craniosacral therapy for chronic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 21(1), 1. doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-3017-y

Haller, H., Dobos, G., & Cramer, H. (2021). The use and benefits of Craniosacral Therapy in primary health care: A prospective cohort study. Complementary therapies in medicine, 58, 102702. doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102702

Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) (Health Library, Issue. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23123-peripheral-nervous-system-pns

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America. (2024). What is a session like? www.craniosacraltherapy.org/what-is-a-session-like-

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The information herein on "Craniosacral Therapy: A Natural Approach to Pain Relief" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.

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