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Craniosacral Therapy for Pain Relief
June 26, 2014
By: Dr. Beth Quintana, N.D.
Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on therapy that has been effective in relieving pain for many individuals. Conditions like chronic headaches, TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint) dysfunction and back pain, in particular, tend to be lessened by this therapy – a gentle, hands-on approach to releasing restrictions in the craniosacral system. This system includes the cranium, sacrum, dural tube (a fibrous membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and which folds in on itself to form membranes which separate and cradle parts of the brain). Another feature of the craniosacral system is the cerebrospinal fluid that circulates within the spinal cord and brain. This fluid has a rhythm and pulse of its own that can be detected at the cranial bones and throughout the body.
Integral to working with the craniosacral system is the ubiquitous netting of connective tissue known as fascia. This tissue surrounds and suspends every other structure in our body from muscles and bones to organs, nerves, and blood vessels. And the thing about fascia? It is all connected. Injury, trauma, or guarding of a painful area can cause the fascia to be tense or restricted. This imbalance can affect the whole system, similar to the effect of a snag in a delicate fabric. By restoring the balance of this system, the functioning of the central nervous system is improved, as is the overall physical and emotional well-being of the patient.
A craniosacral treatment usually begins with an assessment of the patient’s body by feeling the rhythm and noting temperature, pulse and blood flow changes, and where restrictions exist. In or near these areas of restriction, a very gentle pressure is exerted, so subtle it may be undetectable to an observer. A first-time patient may feel that very little is happening, however there can be dramatic results after only one treatment. Through very slight movements, the practitioner is able to facilitate the release of restrictions and subtle misalignments, allowing for more balanced posture and movement.
Pain often causes the body to assume a pattern that is difficult to correct – we tend to “guard” against the pain by protecting it with tensed muscles which may in turn cause misalignments, spasms, and decreased blood flow to the area, all of which perpetuate the pain cycle. Craniosacral therapy can help break that pattern of pain by facilitating release of pain-generating restrictions and encouraging balanced nervous system function.
Dr. Beth Quintana has advanced training in Craniosacral Therapy and provides Physical Medicine and Naturopathic Specialty Care at SageMED.