Craniosacral Therapy

Overview

What is craniosacral therapy (CST)?

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle hands-on treatment that may provide relief from a variety of symptoms including headaches, neck pain and side effects of cancer treatment among many others.

CST uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of fluids in and around the central nervous system. Relieving tension in the central nervous system promotes a feeling of well-being by eliminating pain and boosting health and immunity.

The focus of CST is a gentle placement of hands to assist release of the body’s connective tissue, or “fascia.” Fascia (Latin word for “band”) is a covering found throughout the body including organs, glands, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, brain and spinal cord. This covering forms a body-wide connective network. CST is based on the idea that the body is interrelated at all levels.

CST is thought to improve efficiency of biological processes through boosting inherent self-regulation, self-correction and self-healing. The therapy can be used successfully with children and adults.

What conditions may craniosacral therapy (CST) help?

  • Chronic pain.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Migraine headache.
  • Complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Fascial adhesions.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Neuralgia.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Temporo-mandibular joint syndrome.
  • Stroke.
  • Post-concussion syndrome.
  • Speech impairment.
  • Epilepsy.

Procedure Details

What can I expect from a craniosacral therapy (CST) session?

A CST session is similar to massage therapy, except you stay fully clothed.

The treatment session begins with a consultation with your trained therapist to identify troubled areas. Soft music and low lighting are often used to increase your state of relaxation.

The therapist uses gentle pressure techniques to assess the existence of possible disruptions and/or restrictions in your fascial system. Light touch and fascial release may help your muscles and organs naturally relieve stress, which improves function. Other patients often report feeling a sense of deep relaxation.

Risks / Benefits

Is craniosacral therapy right for everyone?

CST can benefit almost everyone. With a few conditions, however, craniosacral therapy may not be appropriate and you’ll need to talk with your CST practitioner and physician.

Your session needs to wait if you have experienced any of the following and have NOT been released for treatment by your physician:

  • Recent concussion.
  • Cerebral swelling.
  • Structural defects in the cerebellum such as Arnold-Chiari malformation.
  • Brain aneurysm.
  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Blood clots.
  • Any disorder that causes instability of cerebral fluid pressure, flow or build-up.

Is craniosacral therapy (CST) covered by insurance?

CST is not covered by insurance. An out-of-pocket payment is required prior to treatment.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2020.

References

  • Haller H, Lauche R, Sundberg T, et al. . BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2019 Dec 31;21(1)1. Accessed 10/7/2020.Craniosacral Therapy for chronic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12891-019-3017-y)
  • Haller H, Lauche R, Cramer H, et al. Clin J Pain. 2016 May;32(5):441-9. Accessed 10/7/2020.Craniosacral Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Sham-controlled trial. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26340656/)
  • Castro-Sánchez AM, Lara-Palomo IC, Matarán-Peñarrocha GA, et al. J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Aug;22(8):650-7.Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27347698/)

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