CranioSacral Therapy (CST)?
Are you looking for alternative therapies to relieve
your older dog’s joint pain? Is your cat looking stiff
and uncomfortable after her nightly romp outside?
CranioSacral Therapy is one of the alternative therapies
that may be the answer to these concerns, as well as an
effective way to promote optimal wellness and
performance in your animals.
Developed for humans by Dr. John Upledger, D.O.,
O.M.M., CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle hands-on method
of evaluating and enhancing the function of the
physiological body system called the craniosacral
system, which is comprised of the membranes and
cerebrospinal fluid that surround the brain and spinal
cord. Craniosacral therapists use a very light touch
(five grams or the weight of a nickel) to provide very
deep work. Since the craniosacral system directly
affects the central nervous system, an imbalance there
can cause any number of sensory, motor or neurological
disabilities. CranioSacral Therapy helps correct those
restrictions by engaging the body’s self-healing
mechanisms, so that the body can release the effects of
injury, pain and stress.
The practice of CranioSacral Therapy has more recently
been developed for animals with great success. It is
best used and effectively incorporated with other types
of healthcare practices such as traditional medicine,
dentistry, massage therapy, osteopathy, body-mind
integration modalities, and in this case Tellington
TTouch with which it is highly compatible.
Since its inception, CranioSacral Therapy continues to
be a platform from which new and innovative approaches
are developed to helping people and animals heal.
When is CranioSacral Therapy indicated?
Craniosacral therapy has been found effective for many
conditions affecting small animals: arthritis, spine and
neck injuries, lameness, head injuries, TMJ/jaw pain,
chronic joint and spine pain, cancer, hip dysplasia,
Lyme disease, systemic disorders, post-surgical
recovery, nerve irritations, laryngeal paralysis,
behavior problems (such as fear biting for example),
emotional problems, and the special issues of
aging/elderly animals. Animals can become stressed from
pain, age and deteriorating health, as well as from the
hectic lives of their caretakers. Even a low level of
anxiety from stress puts the animal in the fight/flight
response. CranioSacral Therapy helps restore a balance
between fight/flight and rest/digest responses of the
central nervous system.
What is a CranioSacral Therapy session like?
A typical session
lasts an hour. More than likely it will be combined
with the use of some TTouch techniques in order to
help your animal settle and establish a level of
trust. The animals usually become very relaxed and
many fall asleep for a portion of the session. The
animals are never restrained and are allowed to move
if they feel the need.
Help for dogs:
Dogs suffering with hip dysplasia have shown improved
gait and reduced signs of pain after several sessions
of CranioSacral Therapy. For older dogs facing
laryngeal paralysis, or difficulty with the muscles in
the airway, Craniosacral therapy can delay or prevent
surgery in some cases, by relieving strain on the
cranial nerves where they exit the brain, and relaxing
muscle spasms in the area of the throat.
One dog (treated by Sally Morgan**) with laryngeal
paralysis was able to avoid surgery and maintain a
good quality of life in his senior years. His
caretaker said “I can’t believe the difference this
work has made for my dog. After each session, he acts
like a puppy and I can barely hold him back when he
wants to run up the mountain on his walks. Before
CranioSacral Therapy, I thought we would have to put
him to sleep. I was so impressed with the work, that I
received CranioSacral Therapy for myself when I
experienced low back pain.”
Help for cats:
Because craniosacral work enhances fluid exchange
throughout the body’s systems, it can be beneficial
for older cats with kidney dysfunction. Older cats can
also get relief for achy arthritic joints, and injured
animals can get faster recovery with craniosacral
treatments. A cat which apparently fell from a tree
was diagnosed with a torn hamstring muscle. The vet
felt it would need surgical repair. Her owner wanted
to try CranioSacral Therapy first, to relieve the
cat’s pain so she could eat and build up her strength.
After two sessions, the cat no longer required
surgery, was soon able to leap onto the furniture, and
within a few weeks she was able to go outside safely.
Another cat which had been severely injured in a car
accident, years before she was adopted, had paralysis
in the nerves and muscles on one side of her face as
well as a limp. Her owner also believed Emma suffered
chronic headaches. She kept to herself and did not
socialize with the other cats. After two craniosacral
sessions, her caretaker reported, “Emma is doing so
much better. You can tell she has less pain and she
actually comes to us to be petted and interacts more
with the other cats. I can’t believe the change in her
Therapy truly can transform animals’
lives. It is a new approach for reducing
stress and promoting renewed health and
vitality in companion animals.
**Sally Morgan was a
major contributor of this text. She is an Upledger
certified Craniosacral Therapist and presenter, a
Physical Therapist, and Reiki master. She specializes in
treating animals and their people.