Migraine and CranioSacral Treatment

The word migraine derives from the Greek, “pain on one side of the head,” though pain can be felt behind an eye or at the back of the head or neck.  Migraines can often be preceded by an aura, ie flashes of light, blind spots, and can sometimes be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light, smells or sounds.  The pain can last from hours to days.

It is not known exactly how migraine is caused, though it is thought to result from the dilation of blood vessels in the head and neck and the release of chemicals from the sensory nerve fibres which coil around the vessels themselves.  These chemicals cause pain, inflammation and further enlargement of the temporal artery.  The sympathetic nervous system responds with the possible symptoms of nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound and possibly  diarrhoea.

Things which may trigger a migraine attack can be allergies, certain foods, bright lights, loud noises, alcohol, missing a meal, hormonal fluctuations or a tight neck.  There is no specific cure, but avoiding the triggers and taking preventative treatment measures can help to reduce the pain, frequency and duration of the migraines.

This is where CranioSacral Therapy treatment can help.  One of the areas CST comes into its own is in helping the body to release deeply held tension and trauma.  There is a web-like structure of connective tissue called fascia, which runs through the whole internal structure of the body.  The fascia surrounds, protects and holds in place every bone, muscle, organ, ligament and tendon in the body.  All nerve, blood and lymph vessels move within this fascial web.  When there is stress or physical knocks to the body the tissues contract and the fascia can hold on to and ‘store’ these tensions, thereby inducing restrictions to function..

In the case of migraine, deeply held tension in the neck, shoulders and around the collar-bone area can inhibit blood flow to and from the head.  This tension can also travel upwards to the head itself, causing restriction to nerve function.

A CranioSacral therapist is trained to feel and identify where restrictions and strains are in the system.  With the sensitive use of the therapist’s hands on the body these restrictions can be gently released, thereby returning the system to an ease of movement which allows the body’s self-healing mechanisms to be more effective.  In a typical session, the client lies fully clothed on a treatment couch.  The therapist gently lays their hands on the surface of the client’s body, often the feet or legs or hips or shoulders or head, to ‘listen’ to the potency or health of the system, sensing where there may be restrictions, strains or tensions.

Having established where in the body to begin work, the therapist often puts one hand underneath the body, eg between the shoulders, and the other hand on the top of the body, eg collar bone area.  With a gentle pressure of about the weight of a 10c coin, and perhaps a subtle and gentle movement of the hands, the therapist feels into the restrictions in the area and mirrors back to the body what they are feeling.  The client often experiences a gentle wave-like motion passing through a part of the body, which is the fascia unwinding.

Many people report that they feel relaxed at a level they hadn’t experienced before, and some even fall asleep.  Sometimes there can be a release of emotion, which has been held in the system for a while.  People often report feeling lighter, calmer, more relaxed and being more in tune with their body as a result of treatment.

Often people feel benefits after one session and, with a few treatments, find  a decrease in the regularity, duration and intensity of attacks, and  may enjoy  a cumulative, healing effect on the whole system.

by Eileen Doody CST-T, M.I.A.C.S.T., M.I.F.A, M.I.M.T.A.

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