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Can Craniosacral Therapy Benefit Patients?

Published on February 20, 2013 by Karen Newmeyer

While there are many critics who say that Craniosacral Therapy (CST) does not work, there are others who are finding that it is bringing them relief from intense pain and other chronic symptoms. Some of the arguments against CST revolve around the ideas

Vicki Bant, Massage Program Chair, Broadview University

that it is impossible for the suture joints in the skull to move, and that the therapy is too gentle to be doing much or any good.

Craniosacral therapy, a massage technique that focuses on reducing Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) blockages in the body, was developed in the early 20th century.  It has had little recognition until recent years. The CST used involves the practitioner using gentle palpation to locate restrictions in the flow of CSF. Once a restriction is found, gentle pressure is applied to the area and held until the CSF is released from the tissues and flowing again. This allows muscles and other tissues to relax, and enhances the body’s ability to begin healing.

The common belief surrounding the technique is that the skull is still able to have minute movement in the suture joints that hold the many bones together. Because of this ability to move slightly, the CSF can be pulsed from pressure points on the brain through the spinal column to the sacrum (tailbone area) and back again. As the CSF moves towards the sacrum, the therapist can feel restrictions in the flow and focus on creating a clear path for the fluid to follow.

A study was performed on 28 subjects with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS). These patients had a decreased quality of life due to added physical and emotional stress. The subjects ranged in age from 23 to 75 years old, with 24 females and 4 males. The subjects each received four 50 minute cycles of CST once a week performed by the same practitioner, and followed the 10-step protocol of CST as described by Dr. John Upledger. Each subject underwent a complete neurological examination and an ultrasound of their kidneys and ureters.  They were then asked to rate on a scale of 1-6 how the CST was helping to reduce their symptoms of LUTS. The results of the study showed that all of the subjects experienced reduced frequency and urgency of urination and 79% experienced an improved quality of life. (Raviv, G., Shefi, S., Nizani, D., & Achiron, A. (2009). Craniosacral Therapy Eases Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms. Massage Magazine, (162), 75.)

According to this study Craniosacral therapy has been seen to improve the quality of life of MS patients with LUTS. It has also been known to help relieve pain and promote healing in other chronic ailments and injuries.

Contributed by Vicki Bant, Massage Program Chair, Broadview University, Orem

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