What is Craniosacral Therapy? Purpose, Procedure & Benefits

Craniosacral therapy is a unique type of bodywork that is mainly used to relieve pain and compression in the bones of the head, sacrum, and spinal cord. Cranial sacral therapy uses the technique of gently massaging the head, neck, and back. It is a non-invasive procedure and helps to treat several conditions. Often, cranial-sacral therapy is performed by trained massage therapists, physical therapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors.

The gentle pressure applied to the bones of the skull, neck, spine, and pelvis helps to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system. In this way, cranial sacral therapy helps to remove the blockages from the normal flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. Moreover, it enhances the body’s ability to heal fast.


Typically, it takes around three to ten sessions of cranial sacral therapy to heal completely. However, the number of sessions for cranial sacral therapy may depend on the severity of the compression. Today’s article will highlight the techniques of cranial sacral therapy. Furthermore, we will discuss the purpose and effectiveness of this therapy.

What is craniosacral therapy?

Cranial sacral therapy, also known as craniosacral therapy, is an alternative treatment performed by trained massage and physical therapists, chiropractors, and osteopaths. This therapy was first developed in the 1970s as a form of cranial osteopathy. (1)

It is a non-invasive therapy that mainly aims at enhancing the body’s ability to heal completely. This technique can be used alone or in conjunction with medical or alternative treatments. Cranial sacral therapy is used to treat typically helps to release compression, remove the blockages, improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system. It uses a gentle massage that manipulates the joints in the skull, neck, spine, and pelvis, treating several medical conditions. (2)

Usually, a person requires three to ten sessions to heal completely. However, some patients may only need to follow up after the first session.

What is the purpose of cranial sacral therapy?

Typically, cranial-sacral therapy helps to relieve the compression in the head, neck, spine, and pelvis. Moreover, it releases the physical stress and tension in the affected areas. (3)

Additionally, cranial-sacral therapy can be used in a wide range of conditions that affect both the physical and psychological balance in the body. Some of the typical disorders treated by cranial sacral therapy are listed below –

What is the procedure for cranial sacral therapy?

Usually, the procedure of cranial-sacral therapy starts with a detailed medical history of the patient. The doctor may also document the symptoms and concerns of the patient. Typically, cranial-sacral therapy can be performed with the patient fully clothed. One session usually lasts for about one hour. The patient is asked to lie down on a massage table. The therapist begins the treatment by gently applying pressure on the head, neck, feet, and middle of the body. (5)

Usually, five grams of pressure is sufficient to relieve the compression. The practitioner may reposition the patient to normalize the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. As the treatment advances, the patients may experience the following sensations –

  • Deep relaxation
  • Falling asleep
  • Sensing pulsations
  • Numbing sensation
  • Hot or cold sensation

Is cranial sacral therapy effective?

Several studies have proven the effectiveness of cranial-sacral therapy. Some of them include the following –

  • A 2009 clinical study revealed that cranial sacral therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis improved the lower urinary tract symptoms. Moreover, it enhanced the quality of life.
  • A 2010 study examined the effects of cranial sacral therapy on patients with fibromyalgia. It showed that around 92 people with this condition experienced an improvement in medium-term pain through cranial sacral therapy. (6)
  • Some clinical studies have proven a reduction in anxiety and improved quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia.
  • Asthma patients have also shown improvement in cranial sacral therapy when used in conjunction with acupuncture.

Although there are several advantages of cranial sacral therapy, the patients may experience mild discomfort following the treatment. Often, this side-effect of cranial-sacral therapy fades within 24 hours. Some of the restricted cases that are not suitable for practicing cranial sacral therapy are –

  • Severe bleeding disorders (7)
  • Aneurysm
  • A head injury that involves cranial bleeding and skull fractures

Take away message

Craniosacral therapy is a unique technique that helps to provide relief from compressions in the head, neck. Spine and pelvis. Moreover, it helps to treat several other medical conditions that affect the physical and psychological balance. Some of the conditions treated by cranial-sacral therapy yare migraines, back pain, immune disorders, sinus infections, fibromyalgia, asthma, concussion, and scoliosis.

Typically, this therapy is performed by a trained massage or physical therapists, chiropractors, or osteopaths. The professional applies gentle pressure on the affected areas of the head, neck, back, and pelvis to enhance the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system.


Some of the restricted cases where cranial sacral therapy should not be performed include aneurysms, head injury, and bleeding disorders. Apart from this, cranial-sacral treatment has been proven clinically as effective. Moreover, it is known to improve the quality of life.


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