Cranial Sacral Therapy

Cranial Sacral Therapy for Back Pain?

Cranial sacral therapy got its real start back in the 1930s when an osteopathic physician, Dr. William Sutherland began teaching his method to other osteopaths.

Dr. Sutherland believed that the sacrum, the lower part of the spine, moves in synchrony with the bones of the skull. This in turn, moves in synchrony with the body’s respiration and can be felt by a pulse in the neck, which is a measure of the activity of the cerebrospinal fluid circulating through the spine and brain.

Traditional doctors argued that there is no motion of the cerebrospinal fluid and there is no rhythm that can be felt here.

If There Was No Rhythm, Other Doctors Would Not Have Found It

Sutherland’s technique soon gained some favor with other osteopaths, and a decade later, the technique was offered to osteopaths in post-graduate school. Ten years later, Dr. Sutherland believed that therapists of this method could use it as a way for the body to correct itself if they knew what to look for and were very observant of what they felt and how they responded to the rhythm.

Sutherland’s technique was then taught to other bodyworkers such as chiropractors and massage therapists. The therapy may be spelled in several different ways:

• craniosacral therapy

• cranial sacral therapy

• cranio sacral therapy

In 1970, another osteopathic physician, Dr. John Upledger, who founded the Upledger Institute in Florida watched a slow pulsating movement of the cerebrospinal fluid during neck surgery of one of his patients. He tried to restrain the movement and could not do so, giving credence to the Sutherland theory. The “pulse” was real.

Critics say the cranial sacral method has little science to back it but the British Columbia Office of Health Technology Assessment reports that there is evidence for the rhythm, also called “primary respiration”.

Dr. Upledger was also a professor of biomechanics, professor and researcher at Michigan State University. So impressed with the effects of cranial sacral therapy on disorders such as chronic neck pain, migraine headaches, chronic back pain, impairments in walking and coordination, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, problems with recovery after surgery and even brain and spinal cord injuries, Upledger added a few new techniques to the process to help release hidden emotions that can prevent total healing in the back, spine and body.

The Upledger Clinic is located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and is run by Upledger himself. He has been heralded as one of America’s next wave of innovators for his development of the method by Time magazine reporters.

What A Cranial Sacral Therapist Does

A cranial sacral therapist is thus concerned with the cerebrospinal fluid movement through the spinal cord and brain. Cranial sacral therapists believe this is linked to the breath.

The cranial sacral therapy session is unlike massage therapy where muscles are massaged and trigger points are pressured. A patient will lie on the practitioner’s table and feel relaxed. By placing their hands on the neck in specific locations, a therapist can feel the movement of this pulse, which is quite rhythmic.

Many people feel deeply relaxed after the session and free of their back pain.

Is Cranial Sacral Therapy Safe for Children with Back Pain?

Children are overwhelmed now by the heaviness of backpacks. Studies have shown that a child should never carry more than 10% of his body weight in a backpack. When a child weighs 55 pounds and his history book alone weighs 3 pounds, there’s little room for another book or personal belongings. As a consequence, many children are developing back pain that can set the stage for degeneration of the spine for life.

Cranial sacral therapy is safe for children with back pain because it is non-invasive, and uses very gentle techniques to get the job done. When back and spinal issues are addressed early in life, it saves a child years of medical treatment later on.

What’s the Final Word on Cranial Sacral Therapy for Back Pain?

Does cranial sacral therapy help relieve back pain? Critics say no but some patients and parents of children who have had the therapy say yes.

This is one of the techniques that you just have to test for yourself if you have back pain. For more information, see