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How Craniosacral Therapy Alleviates Pain, Disability, and Dysfunction by Hemda Mizrahi

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How Craniosacral Therapy Alleviates Pain, Disability, and Dysfunction by Hemda Mizrahi

Tracy Lin

Physical Therapist and Craniosacral Therapy (CST) practitioner Tracy Lin joined me on “Turn the Page” to talk about how CST goes beyond treating the physical symptoms of pain, disability and dysfunction, to address causes that are rooted in the psyche and emotions. If you’re still exploring ways you can regain your health and mobility post-injuries, illness, surgeries, or other issues, CST might be one of your “missing links.”

Craniosacral Therapy complements most healthcare modalities, both mainstream and alternative, such as acupuncture, psychology, chiropractic care, and dentistry. It can be integrated as one of a host of other interventions used to address complex medical problems and needs.

After the show, Tracy shared the following three scenarios to further illustrate the benefits of CST. Perhaps you can find yourself, or someone you know in the presenting issues.

48-YEAR OLD FEMALE WITH DIAGNOSIS OF LEFT HIP LABRAL TEAR
PRESENTING ISSUES
The patient slipped on the floor while her foot was caught in the ground. She experienced pain when getting in and out of a cab, and when she was on her feet for more than two to three hours or with quick changes in direction. She also had pain while lying on her back, when bringing her left knee toward the opposite shoulder (with her foot positioned outward, which is an internal rotation of the hip).

TREATMENT WITH PT AND CST
Tracy says, “In a typical PT session, I would have focused on strengthening and stretching both of her legs, emphasizing her left hip, along with some manual therapy. However, after guiding her through basic stretches and functional strengthening exercises that she could do at home, I primarily treated her with Craniosacral Therapy with intermittent therapeutic dialoguing. She opened up about a lot of stressful situations, both work-related and personal. Her left hip pain diminished over the course of weekly or bi-monthly sessions over a span of twelve to fourteen weeks. The pain subsided altogether when we discussed her relationship with her mother, which we discovered was a primary source of stress in her body. Although she was a stoic woman, she released some emotions (e.g. teary eyes) while speaking about her mother. Her craniosacral rhythm stopped during this outward expression of emotion, indicating that a source of health-related issues was surfacing from her unconscious to her conscious mind.

Although she was pain-free for the last few weeks I saw her, she requested to continue CST “just in case the pain was to came back.” Recently, I spoke with her and she stated that she has had only a “slight twinge,” but is pain-free as far as she’s concerned.”

70-YEAR OLD FEMALE WITH NECK PAIN/STIFFNESS
PRESENTING ISSUES
“The patient did not tolerate stretching or soft tissue massage of her neck by another physical therapist using “conventional PT treatment,” since it was “too painful,” and caused her to be even more “tense.” Given that the patient was consistently teary-eyed and reported that stress was causing stiffness in her neck, she was referred to me by my colleague, who thought she required a “gentler and sensitive” approach.”

TREATMENT WITH CST
“The patient enjoyed a combination of light touch and therapeutic dialoguing. She felt more “relaxed,” with less pain after the sessions, and her range of motion, along with the soft tissue tightness in her neck, improved. I was consistently drawn to the tissues around her upper left thorax region, just below her collar bone. Over time she revealed that her husband was sick and now in a wheelchair. While her husband had a home health aide five days a week, for four to six hours, the patient was very attentive to his needs. Steering his wheel chair created a lot of strain on the weak muscles in her arms and neck. The patient talked about feeling insignificant in her marriage. Her husband frequently yelled at her and had numerous affairs early in their marriage. Given his lack of respect, she felt guilty and sad in anticipating the relief and freedom she might feel when he died. She realized that she had neglected herself, sacrificing her own needs to accommodate those of her children and husband. Ultimately, she failed to recognize her own self-worth.

In one session, she pictured her chest as a black, heavy object that was “pushing her down,” preventing her from moving. Through therapeutic dialoguing and imagery that elicited feelings of contentment, she felt lighter and freer in her chest, and began to feel the spark of a yearning to “live her life.” She envisioned attending church on a regular basis and joining the choir, which had not been possible given her care-giving responsibilities and guilt. As she spoke about her “happy place,” my hands were drawn to her heart, and the patient expressed that the “heaviness” was releasing. She eventually established a positive and confident view of herself, committing to doing something that made her happy at least once a day without guilt, while her husband was in the care of the home health aide. As her self-assurance strengthened, the patient’s neck muscles became softer, with less to no report of stiffness.”

65-YEAR OLD FEMALE WITH A DIAGNOSIS OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
PRESENTING ISSUES
The patient was referred to PT due to increasing leg spasms that disturbed her balance and gait. She had chronic, intermittent back pain, constant bilateral knee pain from arthritis, and headaches. She walked with a cane, with a slow gait and small uneven steps due to the pain in her knees, and expressed a strong fear of falling.

TREATMENT WITH PT AND CST
I initially treated her with “conventional” PT, focusing on balance and gait activities, gentle stretching of her legs, functional strengthening with energy conservation techniques, and instruction on home exercises. In one session, the patient shared that she didn’t do most of the home exercises so that she could conserve her energy for doctor’s appointments. She reported an increase in leg spasms that “threw her balance off” and an even greater fear of falling. As she described that her left leg, from her hip down to her knee, was in spasm, I noticed that she was walking much more slowly and carefully than usual. Inviting her to lay down on the mat and relax, I tuned into her craniosacral rhythm, noticing that it was “sluggish,” especially on her left side, below her rib cage.

After performing gentle hands-on techniques at her left hip and thigh, pelvic region, the full length of her spine (the dura mater, which is the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord), her craniosacral rhythm improved in its rate and was more symmetrical with the left and right side. The patient noted that my hands felt very warm, and her tissues and some parts of her body were more “relaxed.” After the session, she stated that her left leg spasms had decreased considerably. When she stood up to walk, she reported being much “steadier.” As she departed, I observed that she was walking a little faster with more confidence, and a smile.

Depending on her fatigue level, the degree of pain in her knees, and left leg spasms, I continued to treat this patient with CST (versus conventional PT) for about 80% of our sessions for another seven to eight weeks, twice a week. After each CST session, the patient left with diminished pain and spasms, improved vitality in her craniosacral rhythm, and consequently, more energy. As a result of decreased pain and leg spasms, her balance and gait felt more “grounded.” During her last session she reported having “more good days than bad days” as a result of more developed mind/body awareness.”

Tracy shared that while patients with particularly complex health issues such as MS and chronic pain would benefit from further treatment, many are unable to continue their sessions for financial reasons. She notes however, that patients generally emerge from the course of treatment with tools and insights that result in much improved self-care.

HOW YOU CAN FIND A CRANIOSACRAL THERAPIST
Tracy suggests the Upledger Institute website (www.upledger.com) as a referral source for CST practitioners, in addition to “word-of-mouth” recommendations from trusted healthcare providers.

In assessing whether or not a particular Craniosacral Therapist is a good fit for you, she advises: “Find out if a practitioner is certified, or how many courses he/she has taken, in addition to the number of years the therapist has been in practice. Ask if the practitioner is comfortable with treating your condition, and if he/she has treated similar issues. Many highly skilled Craniosacral Therapists are not certified but have substantial experience and training in CST. Without seeking perfection, trust whether or not you feel comfortable with the CST practitioner during the initial visit or treatment. A good CST therapist will assess whether or not he/she is best suited to treat you and may refer you colleagues who might better assist you.”

Learn more about the benefits of CST by listening to my conversation with Tracy

Tracy invites you to contact her at www.iahp.com/Tracy-Lin to discuss your questions about CST, and explore your interest in experiencing this “light touch” therapeutic technique firsthand.

A World without MS: Vitamin D’s Role By Leslie Carol Botha

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A World without MS: Vitamin D’s Role By Leslie Carol Botha

vitamin dHoly Hormones Honey! Tune in for Leslie Botha’s latest Episode  “A World without MS: Vitamin D’s Role ” airing March 6th 9am Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel.

March is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month. MS was identified almost 150 years ago, yet the disease still has no cure.  Over 2.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with MS including about 400,000 Americans. Women are to 2 to 3 times more likely to develop MS than men. The number of MS cases continues to grow. Sue Ryan joins host, Leslie Carol Botha to discuss the role of Vitamin D to prevent or even treat MS.   Upon retiring from a career in Washington, D.C., in her early 50s, Sue’s health unexpectedly deteriorated. She empowered herself to find out ‘why’ by attending medical seminars and conducting research to resolve her health issues.  One of her key findings was that she was highly deficient in Vitamin D. While on her journey to better health, Sue became impassioned with the health benefits of Vitamin D. One of the health benefits supported by scientific research is vitamin D’s connection with MS.

About Leslie Carol Botha

Leslie Carol Botha is host of Holy Hormones Honey! on the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel.  Botha is also a Women’s Health Educator and Internationally Recognized Expert on Women’s Hormones and Behaviors. She is the co-author of the highly acclaimed Understanding Your Mind, Mood, and Hormone Cycle, the first in a menstrual health education series that provides women with the education they never received about how their hormone cycle affects not only their minds, and moods, but their personal and professional relationships and their overall health and happiness.

Botha is a member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, and an advisory board member for the Cycles Research Institute. In 2006, Botha received the Edward R. Dewey Award for her pioneering research on how women’s hormonal fluctuations affect their behaviors. The award was bequeathed by the Foundation for the Study of Cycles.

Her research is also featured in The World According to Cycles- How Recurring Forces Can Predict the Future and Change Your Life by Samuel A. Schreiner, Jr., published by Skyhorse Publishing, New York City. Schreiner has noted that Botha is “one of the most prominent twenty-first century natural cycle thinkers.”

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