Cranial Therapy And Chiropractic

What is Cranial Therapy?

Cranial Therapy is a system of very gentle techniques that work on the cranial and sacral bones as well as all the layers of thick fibrous membranes between them. The “cranium” is another name for your skull and the sacral bones are those that make up the big triangular bone at the base of your spine. They are joined by fibrous membranes which contain your brain and spinal cord and are filled with fluid. The fluid acts as a cushion to protect these delicate structures. There is a pumping effect of this fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) that helps to bring nutrients to the brain and spinal cord and remove waste products. This pump happens about ten to fourteen cycles per minute.

How does my Cranial System work?

As you breathe in, the following things happen in your body:

  • The pressure in your lungs forces the fluid in your spinal canal up into your skull
  • The skull expands slightly
  • The base bone of the skull and the sacrum both tilt backwards
  • As you breathe out:
  • The decrease in lung pressure allows the fluid to flow back down into the spinal canal
  • The skull contracts slightly
  • The base bone of the skull and the sacrum both tilt forward again.

These important actions generate the pumping effect. It is a very subtle motion which can be felt by chiropractors who are trained in Cranial Therapy. These very subtle movements in the skull happen because of the 102 joints within the skull and face. Each one of them doesn’t move very much, which is why they are technically called “sutures” rather than joints, but when you add 102 of them together, every little bit counts. It is often thought that the skull bones are fused, however they are shown to interlace to stabilise the skull, while still allowing slight movement.

Why would I need Cranial Therapy?

When sutures in the skull are tight they restrict normal movement of the craniosacral system. If the skull can’t expand properly when you breathe in, there is not enough room for the fluid to push up into the skull. This can put pressure on the delicate brain tissue as well as causing tension through the fibrous tissues from the skull to the sacrum.

Symptoms seen in adults with a cranial system dysfunction can include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Ear problems
  • Tinnitus
  • Sinus issues
  • Neck pain
  • Mouth or jaw pain
  • Moodiness
  • Lack of energy during exercise

Why would my baby or child need Cranial Therapy?

Symptoms seen in babies and children with cranial system dysfunction can include:

  • Feeding or Attachment problems in babies
  • Excess wind and crying babies
  • Uneven head shape (plagiocephaly)
  • Uneven face shape
  • Colic
  • Ear problems
  • Jaw issues
  • Babies with difficulties turning their head both ways
  • Reading, writing or problems
  • Speech difficulties

The sooner your child is checked after birth the better, as the skull bones begin to interlace quite quickly. It usually takes less sessions to correct a problem if caught earlier, as the joints or sutures are more movable.

What can cause a Cranial problem?

There are many things which can cause cranial system issues. Sometimes the initial problem is even caused before you were born or during your birth.

Causes may include:

  • Poor positioning of a baby in the uterus
  • Forcep or Vacuum delivery of a baby
  • Stress
  • Muscle tension
  • Poor posture
  • Head bumps or injuries
  • Whiplash

What happens in a Cranial Therapy Session?

Dr Tressa Fuss, Brisbane Natural Health’s Chiropractor, would first complete a full physiological, orthopaedic and neurological assessment and check your spine and skull for restrictions. If there are any problems areas and treatment is indicated, gentle pressure about equal to the weight of a ten cent coin is applied to the skull to encourage normal movement. Because of Cranial Therapy’s extremely gentle methods, Dr Tressa finds that parents are particularly comfortable for their newborn infants and children to have the care to improve their health and correct the problem.

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Katherine Maslen

Author

Hey, I’m Katherine Maslen, naturopath, nutritionist, host of The Shift podcast, author and renegade for health.
Since completing 2 bachelor degrees in health science over 12 years ago, I’ve been helping peeps just like you to be their best through awesome health. I’ve spent most of this time one on one in clinical practice – in the trenches with my clients to navigate them through the minefield that is imperfect health.

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