Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle manual therapy using very light mobilization techniques to affect autonomic nervous system function, and achieve pain and inflammatory relief. This involves detection and correction of imbalances in the craniosacral system that encourage the individual’s own natural healing mechanisms to dissipate negative effects on the central nervous system. These negative effects include any number of sensory, motor or neurological problems that may have persisted since birth, or may be effects of trauma, whether it is an injury such as a motor vehicle accident or any other accident, micro trauma through prolonged overuse, surgery or other insult to the body.
Headaches/migraines, concentration problems, insomnia, fibromyalgia, TMJ, and back pain, such as the long-term effects from a whiplash injury, prior head injury, stress-related disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders and childhood conditioning, can persist even after various types of therapy have been used. CST is often effective for relief of these issues.
Can a mild head injury cause long-term problems?
Yes, certainly it can. A head trauma can cause derangement in joints, membranes, nerves, muscles etc. This is very amenable to CST.
Craniosacral therapy is a branch of osteopathy dating back to the early 1900s; its roots in medicine go back to Hippocrates. Since the 1970s, extensive research has been done through the Osteopathic College of Michigan State University by Dr. John Upledger to understand the craniosacral system. This system involves the pumping of cerebrospinal fluid within the membranes (meninges) around the central nervous system. Craniosacral rhythms are palpable and should be symmetrical, rhythmical and even in the entire body. Just like the cardiac pulse is easiest to feel at the wrist or on the side of the throat, the craniosacral rhythm is most easily palpated at the cranium (skull) or the sacrum (tailbone).
Children can benefit from craniosacral therapy for the same conditions as adults do. However, some problems specific to childhood are also well suited to craniosacral therapy, such as:
- Infant feeding problems
- Colic and digestive upset
- Restless/Interrupted Sleep and Difficulty Settling
- Birth trauma
- Congenital torticollis
- After infections and surgery
- Hyperactivity and learning disabilities
- Headaches and sinus and ear congestion
- Neck and back problems, and many more conditions
For infants, problems with feeding are the first ones to be addressed. Normally babies are born able to use their sucking reflex, however at times they need a little help. Stimulation of the cranial nerves can be done through craniosacral therapy; these nerves are the ones responsible for proper sucking and swallowing.
Infants often are born with their cranial bone plates overlapping. This overlap happens in order to allow for easier passage through the birth canal. The top of the head (parietal bones) should overlap the back (occiput) and the front (frontal) bones, like a roof overhanging the walls of a house. This override should self-correct within one to three days. If it does not, this restriction could potentially influence the central nervous system development. Craniosacral therapy helps correct these overrides, which otherwise can persist into adulthood. Some babies are born with abnormal headshape from their position in utero, or from birth trauma (plagiocephaly). Again the cranial structures can be gently mobilized back to a more normal shape. Often the changes are demonstrated both visibly and in the baby's behavior. The restless baby with poor sleeping habits often becomes much calmer in both their sleeping and waking states. Frequently they are able to sleep longer, are not as irritable, and even often demonstrate a quicker weight gain. Another way babies clearly demonstrate this is with colic. With treatment, whether it is craniosacral and/or chiropractic, their crying time generally decreases, they are consolable, and demonstrate less gas and better bowel movements.
Occasionally, during birth or from position in utero, even tiny babies have neuro-musculoskeletal problems. These include hip dysplasias, congenital torticollis and neurological conditions. The aim of therapy is to have the child reach their optimal function.
Children can develop headaches, sometimes multifactorial in origin, at times even to the severity of classical migraines. When the cause is either neck problems or cranial restrictions, the condition usually responds very well to these manual therapies.
Cranial sutural restrictions can also contribute to sinus and ear congestion. If case of recurrent problems, the possibility for help with this through craniosacral therapy should be investigated.