Craniosacral Therapy for RA Treatment
Last updated: May 2023
I really like to try to treat my rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain through a holistic approach. Over the past 18+ years, I have used a combination of prescribed medications, diet/supplements, physical/occupational therapy, massage therapy, wet cupping (Hijama) therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic services. At the start of 2022, I added a new therapy to my rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain treatment plan.
I was referred by my rheumatologist to see a therapist specialized in craniosacral therapy (CST). I did not know much about this particular therapy prior to my referral; however, my therapist has really helped me to have a much better understanding.
My craniosacral therapy assessment
My therapist explained that she was going to assess the flow of a special fluid in my nervous system called cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Craniosacral therapy focuses on the CSF movement between the cranium (skull) and sacrum (bony structure below the lower back/spine).
I answered a detailed questionnaire and had a lengthy conversation with my therapist prior to a thorough physical assessment. I was asked to lie on my back on a table, similar to the one used in massage therapy. The room was quiet and darkened. Gentle pressure was applied with her hands to my fully clothed body. I asked her how much pressure she would apply, and she explained that it was equal to the weight of a nickel.
How does it work?
I was assessed literally from my head to my toes. By applying gentle pressure, she is able to see if I have any blockages of my nervous system fluid. She explained that when there is a blockage of cerebrospinal fluid, it prevents the body from being able to function and heal appropriately.
As I lay on the table, my therapist used various hands-on techniques, applying gentle pressure. She gently manipulated the connective tissue (also known as "fascia") that covers my brain, nerves, muscles, organs, spinal column, and pelvis. During treatment, she also gently manipulates the bones of my skull. She explained that craniosacral therapy believes that all of our systems are interconnected.
Improvements in my RA
I started therapy once a week for 30-minute treatment sessions from January to June. It was then decreased to 1 session every 3 weeks. In September, my therapist felt it was medically necessary to increase my sessions to weekly for a few weeks.
This therapy has been life-changing and has really helped me decrease my pain levels. It is definitely relaxing, and I can feel the release that happens in my body through the application of gentle pressure and manipulation.
Craniosacral Therapy is not typically covered by most insurances. However, I researched and found a physical therapist who happened to specialize in craniosacral therapy. My insurance is covering my craniosacral therapy because it is being done by a physical therapist and my particular health insurance covers physical therapy sessions. Otherwise, sessions would be costly. It took some investigative work on my part to find one in my area, but I did.
I hope, through writing this article, to bring more awareness to craniosacral therapy as a potential addition to your treatment plan. My therapist did explain that this type of therapy is not a good option for everyone. There are certain diagnoses and conditions that are contraindicated with this type of therapy. If you feel like you might want to try this therapy, I encourage you to have a conversation with your doctor.
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