Relieving Headaches and TMJ with Craniosacral Therapy
By Anasuya Basil
Twenty years ago I was standing at a busy intersection in San Francisco. The light turned green, I saw the “walk” icon, and I stepped off the curb. “Watch out!” someone yelled, just before the impact. My vision darkened and then slowly refocused on the gritty pavement. Bystanders picked me up and told me a bicyclist had hit me in the head. My clothes were torn, my arms were grazed, and my nose was broken.
Splitting Headaches Gone
In the months after surgery to repair the damage, I suffered from relentless, debilitating headaches. My chiropractor suggested craniosacral therapy (CST), but during my first session I doubted that a treatment so gentle could be effective. Later I noticed the duration of my headaches was shorter, and after 10 sessions, I had no pain at all. Inspired by the experience, I began my CST training.
The Skull Bones Move
The skull is made up of 22 bones joined by sutures that act as hinges. These sutures contain nerve sensors and blood vessels that allow individual skull bones to make small movements. This accommodates the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid when it emerges from the bloodstream, circulates around the brain and spinal cord, and empties back into the bloodstream.
The Vitality of Flow
Because this fluid is nourishing and cleansing for the nervous system, it is crucial to have a flow with strong amplitude and a broad range of motion. Unfortunately, accidents, traumas, and tension compress the bones and sutures, restricting the flow of the fluid. An increase in pain, an inability to focus, diminished energy, and heightened anxiety result. A core purpose of CST is to enhance the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid so that vitality is restored.
CST Mouth Work
Wearing a glove, I use a light touch inside the mouth to access cranial bones, such as the two maxilla of the upper jaw and the zygoma, or cheekbone. CST mouth work is much more relaxing than dental work. People with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) feel a softening and opening in the jaw. Nighttime teeth grinding is relieved. Dentists and orthodontists may inadvertently create a strain in this area. Clients often schedule a CST session after a dental procedure or the installation of braces, so that they feel more ease and integration. Parents read out loud while I work with their children so it is a pleasant experience for both.
After a Concussion
My client, Susan, was an elementary school teacher. She was playing with second graders when she stood up quickly, forgetting she was inside a concrete tunnel. She hit her head hard and blacked out. For months afterward she felt nauseous, dizzy, and exhausted, and she left work on disability. She tried many therapies before CST, and after eight sessions she felt remarkably better and happily returned to teaching children.
A Case of Migraines
I met Melanie when the organization she worked for invited me to offer CST in a worksite-wellness program. Melanie was a skilled and much-appreciated employee but missed work regularly because of migraines. After twice-a-month sessions for six months she realized she had gone four months without calling in sick—a record for her. Her employer was as thrilled as she was.
What Is a CST Session Like?
Clothes remain on and no lotion is used as you lie on your back on a massage table. Using a gentle touch, I palpate the flow of your cerebral spinal fluid. I respect the wisdom of your body so my hands follow and encourage your tissues, rather than push them into alignment. This approach prevents an instinctive resistance against pressure and you may slip into a deep, healing relaxation. Clogged sinuses often drain. Afterward, you may feel as though there is more space in your head and, with a looser jaw, you can open your mouth wider.
Strength and Courage
I know how long-term pain saps your energy and spirit, and I encourage you to keep looking for a treatment that works for you. Don’t just put up with it. I’ve seen many find relief even after years of suffering. Beyond the difficulties, I recognize the strength and courage of those living with chronic pain.
Anasuya Basil, NC, Dipl. ABT, CST, is certified in craniosacral and acupressure therapy and in holistic nutrition. She has been practicing for almost two decades, first in Berkeley and since 2010 in Chico. Her work has been featured on NPR, Fox News, and ABC TV. Visit her website www.mybodywisdom.net, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call/text 510-848-8439.