Neck pain is an ailment that affects 30 to 50 percent of the population annually, according to the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Just less than half of these sufferers — about 15 percent of people, according to the IASP — experience chronic neck pain, or pain that lasts three months or more.
With the U.S. in the middle of an opioid crisis that’s been largely driven by the overuse of prescription medication for the treatment of chronic pain, I am eager to spread the word about a noninvasive treatment option that was recently featured in The Clinic Journal of Pain for its effectiveness in treating chronic neck pain: craniosacral therapy (CST).
While therapists who utilize craniosacral techniques observe many positive effects on a daily basis, quality research supporting these practices has been sparse.
Craniosacral therapy is a form of manual therapy that uses gentle touch to balance the bones, nerves, fluids and membranes in the cranium and spinal areas — or the craniosacral system. The goal is to release restrictions within this system that may be causing or contributing to ailments such as headaches, back and neck pain, pelvic pain/tension, stress, fatigue, and the ability to heal.
Enter the 2016 study titled “Craniosacral Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain.”
In it, researchers compared two groups of chronic neck pain sufferers: one group treated with craniosacral therapy, and the other receiving a light-touch “sham treatment” meant to mimic CST. The CST group, according to the results, “reported significant and clinically relevant effects on pain intensity” in just a few weeks – effects that improved functional disability and quality of life for up to three months after treatment.
Of course, this is no surprise to anyone who has received craniosacral therapy for neck pain.
I know this first-hand. I first discovered CST after my own 2-year struggle with Lyme disease, which led to daily battles with headaches, joint and extremity pain, fatigue, and a severely limited mental focus. After just a few CST sessions, my headaches diminished, my mental focus improved, and my energy levels increased.
We still exist in a health care environment where so many people look for that quick fix, which often doesn’t work so well or can lead to long-term consequences such as we see with opioid addiction. Two million people suffer from prescription pain killer addiction in the U.S. It is heartening to see studies that support effective treatments like craniosacral therapy to improve people’s lives in a more natural way.
For more information about craniosacral therapy or to schedule a thorough assessment to see if CST can be an effective treatment for your ailments, feel free to contact me directly.