Stretching from the cranium to the sacrum, the craniosacral system encompasses the bones, membranes, and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Proponents of cranial sacral therapy believe that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows rhythmically between these structures. In healthy people, CSF flows freely, but when blockages occur, health complications may result. Cranial sacral therapy (also called craniosacral therapy) uses gentle manipulation to relieve these blockages and restore health.
What conditions can benefit from cranial sacral therapy?
Practitioners and patients alike have reported relief from symptoms of conditions such as migraine, neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.[2,3,4] A study in 2013 found that six craniosacral treatments on migraine patients lessened the effect of migraines on participants’ lives from “serious” to “considerable.” Another study found that anxiety levels, night rest, mood, and perception of pain and fatigue in fibromyalgia patients were reduced after a 25-week treatment period.
What is cranial sacral therapy like?
During the treatment, the practitioner will first palpate the bones and tissues of the spinal cord and skull to identify restrictions in the craniosacral system. After finding the blockages, the practitioner will gently manipulate and move tissues and bones to restore the natural flow of CSF. Treatment generally lasts for 30 to 60 minutes. It may need to be repeated regularly for best results. The therapy is gentle and considered quite safe when performed by a trained professional. It is not painful, and often, the patient cannot even feel the adjustments being made by the practitioner.
A variety of practitioners provide cranial sacral therapy, including chiropractors, massage therapists, osteopathic doctors, and physical therapists. Some practitioners specialize solely in this type of therapy. All practitioners must undergo the appropriate training.
Share your experience
Have you ever been treated by a craniosacral specialist? What condition did it address? Was it successful? Tell us your story in the comments section below.