Do you get headaches and also have neck pain or irritation?
You may be experiencing cervicogenic headaches – A headache caused by neck dysfunction: nerve irritation, myofascial tensions, misalignment of the cervical vertebrae. The nerves in the neck get so irritated the pain radiates up from the neck into the head. You may just feel the pain in your head around your eyes and forehead and most often isolated to one side of the head. Or you may even feel the pain radiate up from the neck or base of your head to your head. Either way it's terrible to live.
The best way to get rid of these headaches is to heal the neck, improve alignment and get rid of the excess tensions of the soft tissues. What’s the best therapy for that? Craniosacral therapy.
CranioSacral Therapy is a highly effective, gentle manual therapy that relieves irritation and tension in the neck while improving the alignment of the neck. The light touch of craniosacral therapy melts away the tensions, frees up the nerves, increases blood flow, and relieves the myofascial tensions that are pulling the neck out of alignment. This therapy is the most gentle, non-invasive, and nourishing therapies around. The neck is a delicate area of our body that has to deal with our stress and poor posture, this kind of treatment is exactly what this vulnerable area of our body needs.
With continued craniosacral therapy and lifestyle changes, it is possible to have lasting relief from neck pain and headaches. Not only do my clients at Twin Cities Craniosacral have neck pain relief, but the positive outcomes have also been proven in a randomized control trial.
In this research study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, the participants were experiencing chronic neck pain. Some of these participants received a sham manual therapy, a pretend light touch manual therapy with no craniosacral technique. The other group received a standardized craniosacral therapy treatment. They were all treated once a week for 8 weeks. At the end of the trial, the craniosacral group had clinically significant improvement in pain intensity after the 8 weeks and 20 weeks later! I find these results to be very exciting. Not only do they demonstrate the validity of this therapy, but also the long-term positive results people have from the therapy.
Interested in reading the article yourself? Here it is in full text https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4894825/,
Haller, H., Lauche, R., Cramer, H., Rampp, T., Saha, F. J., Ostermann, T., & Dobos, G. (2016). Craniosacral Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Sham-controlled Trial. The Clinical journal of pain, 32(5), 441–449. doi:10.1097/AJP.0000000000000290
Deep pressure therapy, also called weighted blankets, has gained attention lately as a therapy for restless legs, anxiety, and sensory processing challenges, just to name a few.
I have one of my own and love using it particularly in the colder Minnesota months, which is pretty much most of the year.
What I love most about deep pressure therapy is it's a easy way to de-stress. I am often caring of my 3 year old daughter during the day, most days it is quite the roller coaster of emotions and activities.
My weighted blanket is my go to rescue for calm amongst the busy toddler energy. I’ll throw it on my lap as we color or squish playdough, and soon I’m feeling at ease again.
Originally these blankets gained popularity as a therapy for sensory processing issues or people on the autism spectrum. But really, it can help anyone, we are all living in a stressful world, and we could all use some help to calm down and relax.
The theory behind the blanket is deep pressure therapy, which means, it is a therapy which uses a gentle pressure upon the whole body. The effect of the weight (or pressure) upon the body for a sustained duration engages the proprioceptors in your body, which then alerts your autonomic nervous system to give control over to the parasympathetic nervous system.
What that means is, it takes you out of flight and fight and puts you in to calm and collected. So it can help to you unwind after a stressful day at work (or negotiations with a tired 3 year old).
So how does this help extend the benefits of your craniosacral therapy?
Well, the pressure balances your body’s nervous system, just like craniosacral therapy does. The body’s response will release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, the wonderful trifecta of feel good hormones we could all use more of. Overall you will feel calm, your muscles relax, your heart rate and blood pressure will improve.
Does any of this sound or feel familiar to your craniosacral session?
Well that’s because craniosacral therapy also enhances your parasympathetic nervous system, releases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
So let’s say you invest your time and money on a craniosacral session, only to go to a stressful job and have to deal with Minneapolis road construction and traffic. Soon your body will be back into stressed-out mode.
But you can help your body get back into that relaxed state just as you felt after your session by using deep pressure therapy. It will also help the fascia and muscles stayed relaxed, so your body can keep its fascial release and healthy alignment you achieved during your craniosacral session.
With craniosacral therapy, and others like it, the goal is often to help your body increase time spent in a relaxed state. Its effects are cumulative.
Think of your parasympathetic nervous system as a muscle, you need to continue to engage it in healthy ways to keep it strong and active. So keep at it, keep getting those craniosacral therapy sessions and investing in ways to nourish and nurture your body.
Here’s some important tips on finding the right blanket.
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Janet Crow MS, CMT, CST-T