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Craniosacral Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Updated: May 11, 2021

Summary: A recent study by Mataran-Penarrocha et al. sought to determine the effects of craniosacral therapy on anxiety, depression, pain, sleep quality, and quality of life in patients with Fibromyalgia. The study took 84 Fibromyalgia patients and randomly assigned them to receive either craniosacral therapy or a placebo treatment (during which a disconnected ultrasound probe was applied to various points along the spine and knees). Those receiving the craniosacral therapy underwent one hour sessions twice a week for 25 weeks, while the ultrasound “Placebo” group received two 30-minute sessions weekly for 25 weeks. All patients, regardless of the group they were in, were instructed to continue their normal drug treatment while on this study. The researchers measured the study subjects’ anxiety, pain, sleep quality depression and quality of life at various times throughout the study. Six months after the 25-week study, those who had received craniosacral therapy showed vast improvement in their levels of anxiety, pain, quality of life, and sleep. The study also found that physical function also improved among those who received craniosacral therapy. The authors concluded that craniosacral therapy should be considered as a complementary therapy to existing pharmaceutical, physical, and psychological therapies for individuals with Fibromyalgia (Mataran-Penarrocha et al., 2011). Another study looked at the role of craniosacral therapy on tender points of pain as well as heart rate in people with Fibromyalgia. Similar to the previously described study, this study by Castro-Sanchez et al. randomized 92 Fibromyalgia patients to treatment with either craniosacral therapy or a placebo treatment with a disconnected magnet therapy machine. All patients wore a 24-hour monitor to measure their heart rate, and pain intensity was measured by a physical evaluation of tender points. After 20 weeks on the study, those subjects who received the intervention of craniosacral therapy had significantly reduced pain in 13 of the 18 tender points. After two months and one year following completion of therapy, significant reductions in pain were observed at four of 18 tender points for those in the craniosacral therapy group. The authors concluded that craniosacral was useful for improving medium-term pain in individuals suffering from Fibromyalgia (Castro-Sanchez et al., 2011). In summary, there is limited research available regarding the use of craniosacral therapy to treat the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia; however, the few studies that have been conducted to date show promising findings. More research is needed to determine if craniosacral therapy can be useful to those suffering from Fibromyalgia. That said, the research that has been conducted is positive and the fact that craniosacral therapy is very low risk and unobtrusive make it something those suffering from Fibromyalgia may wish to consider testing.

Comments from Susan Breder: this post is an excerpt from

I've included links to the studies referenced below.

_____________________________________________ References 1. Castro-Sanchez AM, Mataran-Penarrocha GA, Sanchez-Labraca N, Quesada-Rubio JM, Granero-Molina J, Moreno-Lorenzo C. A randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of craniosacral therapy on pain and heart rate variability in Fibromyalgia patients. Clin Rehabil. 2011;25(1):25-35. 2. Mataran-Penarrocha GA, Castro-Sanchez AM, Garcia GC, Moreno-Lorenzo C, Carreno TP, Zafra MDO. Influence of craniosacral therapy on anxiety, depression and quality of life in patients with Fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. Volume 2011, Article ID 178769, 9 pages. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep125 Epub ahead of print

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