Updated: May 1, 2019
Craniosacral therapy (“CST”) is a light-touch, whole-body treatment technique developed by John E. Upledger, DO, OMM. Craniosacral refers to the head (cranium) and sacral refers to the base of the spine (sacrum) and tailbone (coccyx).
The craniosacral system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system “CNS”); cerebrospinal fluid (“CSF”) that bathes the brain, and the bones of the spine and the skull that houses these membranes.
CSF has three main functions:
it protects the brain and spinal cord from trauma,
it supplies nutrients to nervous system tissue and
CSF removes waste products from the consumption by the brain of nutrients and the impact of blood flow by the brain (“cerebral metabolism”).
As the pressure of the fluid flow increases and decreases the CSF flow creates a rhythmical rise and fall motion within the craniosacral system. A trained Craniosacral Therapist feels (“palpates”) with his or her hands this rhythmical motion because it creates movement of the cranial bones. The Craniosacral therapist feels and monitors the motion of the craniosacral system for unified, integrated movement without restriction. Restrictions in this motion result from injury, inflexibility of the joints of the spine and head or from dysfunctions in other parts of the body which can all cause abnormal motion in the craniosacral system. The abnormal motion leads to stresses in the cranial mechanism, which can contribute to dysfunction and poor health, especially in the brain and spinal cord.
The purpose of craniosacral therapy is to enhance the functioning of this important system. Imbalances in the craniosacral mechanism often begin at birth; a difficult delivery, extended time in the birth canal, incorrect application of forceps even suction can produce severe stresses and distortions of the cranial tissues. This distortion can adversely affect the baby’s general health, and can last well into adulthood. Babies who experience these birth traumas often have developmental and learning issues resulting in difficulties with motor skills and speech development, frequent ear infections, torticollis (when the muscles of the neck cause the head to tilt down), plagiocephaly (misshaped head) and facial asymmetry. In adults, head traumas at birth and those sustained later in life (concussion, whiplash, brain/head/eye/oral surgery, dental procedures, etc.) can result in intractable headaches/migraine, mood disorders including anxiety, depression, nervousness, post traumatic stress disorder; fibromyalgia, immune system disorders, unresolved neck pain, chronic fatigue, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) and more.
The craniosacral system is defined as a functioning physiological system. The anatomic parts are: the meningeal membranes, the osseous structures to which the meningeal membranes attach related to meningeal membranes, the cerebrospinal fluid and all structures related to the production, reabsorption and containment of the cerebrospinal fluid.
The craniosacral system is related to and influences and is influenced by the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, vascular system and the lymphatic system.
Consequently, Craniosacral therapy can help improve the functioning of the nervous system, relieving pain and improving mobility. Therefore, relief from a multitude of physical and emotional issues can be obtained through craniosacral therapy.
CONDITIONS AND DISORDERS SUITABLE FOR TREATMENT BY CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY
spinal cord injury