Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Benefits of Craniosacral Therapy in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Key Take-Away: 

Craniosacral therapy (craniopathy and cranial osteopathy) is a holistic therapy in which light holding of the skull and sacrum and barely detectable movements are involved to mitigate pain and many ailments including cancer. This study has studied the effects of craniosacral therapy on various parameters in patients with chronic low back pain. The study involved the comparison of the craniosacral therapy with the classic massage.

Craniosacral therapy (craniopathy and cranial osteopathy) is a holistic therapy in which light holding of the skull and sacrum and barely detectable movements are involved to mitigate pain and many ailments including cancer

ABSTRACT: 
Background: 

To evaluate the effects of craniosacral therapy on disability, pain intensity, quality of life, and mobility in patients with low back pain.

Methods: 

A single-blinded randomized controlled trial. Sixty-four patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain (mean age ± SD, 50 ± 12 years; 66% female) who were referred for physical therapy at a clinical unit of the Health Science School of the University of Almeria (Spain).

Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group (10 sessions of craniosacral therapy) or a control group (10 sessions of classic massage). Disability (Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire [RMQ, primary outcome] and Oswestry Disability Index), pain intensity (10-point numeric pain rating scale), kinesiophobia (Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia), isometric endurance of trunk flexor muscles (McQuade test), lumbar mobility in flexion, hemoglobin oxygen saturation, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, hemodynamic measures (cardiac index), and biochemical estimation of interstitial fluid. These outcomes were registered at baseline, after treatment, and 1-month follow-up.

Results: 

No statistically significant differences were seen between groups for the main outcome of the study, the RMQ (p = 0.060).

However, patients receiving craniosacral therapy experienced greater improvement in pain intensity (p ≤ 0.008), hemoglobin oxygen saturation (p ≤ 0.028), and systolic blood pressure (p ≤ 0.029) at immediate- and medium-term and serum potassium (p = 0.023) level and magnesium (p = 0.012) at short-term than those receiving classic massage.

Conclusion: 

Ten sessions of craniosacral therapy resulted in a statistically greater improvement in pain intensity, hemoglobin oxygen saturation,

systolic blood pressure, serum potassium, and magnesium level than did 10 sessions of classic massage in patients with low back pain.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Aug 2016; 22(8): 650-657
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