There are many alternative therapies that can help with back pain. Craniosacral Therapy is one such therapy.

In this article, we are going to go over how Craniosacral Therapy works, what it can do for back pain, its effectiveness, recommended number of sessions, and potential costs.

Let's get started . . .

How does CST work?

Before explaining how this therapy works, you should first know how the craniosacral system works.

The craniosacral system consists of the main parts of the central nervous system, such as the spinal cord, sacrum, cranial sutures and so on. This system is also connected to other systems of the body which are mainly responsible for our regular movements.

It goes without saying that the brain and the spinal cord, the main components of the central nervous system, are vital for our ability to function properly.

With that said, any trauma, injury or concussion may impact the craniosacral system, blocking the normal transit of fluids.

Thus, whenever there is a blockage, the therapist uses subtle digital pressure. This pressure is so gentle that it is something around 5 grams of pressure, similar to the weight of a nickel.

With this touch, the therapist looks for abnormal or irregular transit of fluids.

The therapist must be able to first identify the primary pulses of the craniosacral system such as: the rate, symmetry and "energy" of the pulse.

This evaluation can be done in a few parts of the body like the feet, joints, sacrum, diaphragm, shoulders, and head.

Now that we have an overview of how craniosacral therapy works, let's look at how it benefits and works for back pain. . .

Does Craniosacral Therapy Work for Back Pain?

Due to the increased claims of CST effectively improving pain intensity, some studies have been conducted to confirm its effectiveness.

A study called Debilitating Pain in Neck and Shoulder by Amanda Del Castillo LMT, CPT, CSTD, from The Upledger Institute, involved a patient with multiple symptoms:

  1. Upper back pain
  2. Lower back pain
  3. Headaches
  4. Migraines
  5. Neck pain
  6. Shoulder pain
  7. Loss of use of her right hand
  8. Decreased range of motion
  9. Face trauma due to a car accident which resulted in multiple injuries

The patient claimed that after CST, she feels like she is "put back together" for the first time after her accident.

Is Craniosacral Therapy an Effective Option for Back Pain?

You're probably wondering how light touch used in craniosacral therapy can be that effective in releasing chronic back pain. Craniosacral Therapy is done to release tension in the tissues, and the therapist will read the fluid flux between the sacrum and the brain.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of such light touch treatment, in comparison with other treatments such as massage, The Journal of Alternative Medicine conducted a trial, in which 64 patients with chronic, nonspecific low back pain were assigned to two groups. One group had 10 sessions of CST, and the other group had 10 sessions of traditional massage.

After 10 sessions of Craniosacral Therapy, patients claimed to feel more significant improvement in pain intensity than those receiving traditional massage.

A similar study was published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) on the treatment of patients with non-specific, low back pain. But this time, Craniosacral Therapy was compared with another treatment: trigger point therapy. In this case, both groups demonstrated a significant reduction of pain. Nevertheless, CST was highly effective on reducing the intensity and frequency of pain in patients with low back pain.

In another successful case on alleviating back pain provided also by The Upledger Institute, Cheryl Rodewig wrote what happened with SFC Dale Kessler, a soldier in the Reserves. He used to have trouble standing for long periods of time. Kessler said he never thought any type of massage therapy would work for him, but the results with craniosacral have been "fantastic."

How Many Sessions are Recommended for Back Pain?

Every person is different. You may start to see improvement in your back pain when getting around 10 - 20 sessions, Even if there is a case that might be similar to yours, each individual's body responds to this process in a very unique way.

According to The Upledger Institute, a number of 1 - 3 sessions throughout the week, over the course of several weeks, should be a good starting point.

Talking to an experienced Craniosacral Therapy practitioner and explaining your case might also be helpful to figure things out.

What Will Craniosacral Therapy for Back Pain Cost?

The average price per session in the United States is $70-$170. The overall costs that you end up spending will depend on:

  1. Number of sessions for your developed treatment plan
  2. Maintenance sessions
  3. Packages and discounts

Maintenance sessions can help maintain the progress that has been gained. Don't forget, it can always be helpful to ask about discounts and packages to help bring down costs.


Adelaida Maria Castro-Sanchez, Inmaculada Carmen Lara-Palomo, Guillermo A. Mataran-Penarrocha, Manuel Saavedra-Hernandez, Jose Manuel Perez-Marmol, and Maria Encarnacion Aguilar-Ferrandiz.(2016). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 22(8). ahead of print. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from URL

Białoszewski D1, Bebelski M2, Lewandowska M1, Słupik A2. Utility of craniosacral therapy in treatment of patients with non-specific low back pain. Preliminary report.Ortop Traumatol Rehabil. 2014 Nov-Dec;16(6):605-15. doi: 10.5604/15093492.1135120. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from URL

Cheryl Rodewig.(2010). Soldier finds healing throughCranioSacral Therapy. Upledger Institute International. Retrieved April 16, 2019 from URL

Amanda Del Castillo LMT, CPT, CST-D (2018). CranioSacral Therapy. Debilitating Pain in Neck and Shoulder. Upledger Institute International. Retrieved April 17, 2019, from URL