Dr. Mark LaBeau - Cranial-Sacral Therapy in Carmel Valley, California
What is Cranial Sacral Therapy
Cranial sacral therapy (CST) is sometimes also referred to as craniosacral therapy. It's a type of bodywork that relieves compression in the bones of the head, sacrum (a triangular bone in the lower back), and spinal column. CST is noninvasive. It uses delicate pressure on the head, neck, and back to relieve the stress and pain caused by compression. It can, as a result, help to treat a variety of problems.
It's thought that through the gentle manipulation of the bones in the skull, spine, and pelvis, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system can be normalized. This eliminates "blockages" from the normal flow, which enhances the body's ability to recover.
Many massage therapists, physical therapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors have the ability to conduct cranial sacral therapy. It can be part of an already-scheduled treatment visit or the sole purpose for your appointment.
Depending on what you're using CST to treat, you may benefit from between 3 and 10 sessions, or you might benefit from maintenance sessions. Your healthcare provider will help you figure out what's right for you.
For the best results, schedule a consultation with a qualified health professional, such as an osteopath or a physical therapist.
Benefits and Uses
CST is believed to alleviate compression in the head, neck, and back. This can soothe pain and release both psychological and physical stress and tension. It's also thought to help repair cranial movement and ease or release restrictions of the head, neck, and nerves.
Cranial sacral therapy can be used for people of all ages. It may be part of your treatment for conditions like:
- Migraines and headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Disturbed sleep cycles and insomnia
- Sinus infections
- Neck pain
- Reoccurring ear infections or colic in infants
- Trauma recovery, including trauma from whiplash
- Mood disorders like anxiety or depression
- Complicated pregnancies
There's lots of anecdotal evidence that CST is an effective treatment, but more research is needed to scientifically establish this. There's evidence that it can relieve stress and tension, though some research suggests that it might only be effective for babies, toddlers, and children.
Other studies, however, suggest that CST may be a reliable treatment-- or part of an effective treatment plan-- for certain conditions.
One 2012 study discovered that it was effective at minimizing symptoms in those with severe migraines. Another study found that individuals with fibromyalgia experienced relief from symptoms (including pain and anxiety) thanks to CST.
Side Effects and Risks
The most common side effect of cranial sacral therapy with a qualified practitioner is minor discomfort following the treatment. This is often temporary and will diminish within 24 hours.
There are certain people who shouldn't use CST. These include people who have:
- Severe bleeding disorders
- A diagnosed aneurysm
- A history of recent traumatic head injuries, which might include cranial bleeding or skull fractures
Procedure and Technique
When you come for your consultation, your practitioner will ask you about your symptoms and any kind of pre-existing conditions that you have.
You'll typically remain fully clothed during the treatment, so wear comfortable clothing to your consultation.
Your session will last about an hour, and you'll likely start by lying down on your back on the massage table. The practitioner might start at your head, feet, or near the center of your body.
Using five grams of pressure (which is about the weight of a nickel), the provider will carefully hold your feet, head, or sacrum to listen to their subtle rhythms.
If they discover it's needed, they may delicately press or reposition you to normalize the flow of the cerebrospinal fluids. They may use tissue-release methods while supporting one of your limbs.
Throughout the treatment, some people experience different sensations. These might include:
- Feeling deep relaxation
- Falling asleep, and later recalling memories or seeing colors
- Sensing pulsations
- Having a "pins and needles" (numbing) sensation
- Having a hot or cold sensation
Cranial sacral therapy may be able to offer relief for certain conditions, with the strongest evidence supporting it as a treatment for problems like headaches. Since there's a very low risk for adverse effects, some people may prefer this to prescription medications that have more risks.