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Craniosacral Therapy and Cancer Patients

Many mesothelioma cancer patients look for alternative ways to relieve the pain that can be associated with the symptoms of their disease and the side effects of traditional treatments like mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation, discontent to add yet more prescription and non-prescription drugs to their daily regimen to combat these issues.

Many current cancer patients were proponents of chiropractic manipulation before their cancer diagnosis and continue to look for ways to use chiropractic to help them deal with the rigors of the disease. Some have turned to a form of chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation known as craniosacral therapy, developed in the 1970s by John Upledger based on previous work by Dr. William Sunderland in the 1930s.

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral therapy is usually performed by chiropractors, physical therapists, osteopaths, massage therapists, and those who are considered naturopaths. Treatment involves gentle massage and manipulation of the bones of the skull and the spine. Practitioners begin by looking for a “pulse” in this area of the body - which is created by the interaction between the arterial blood, capillary blood (brain volume), venous blood and cerebrospinal fluid - allowing them to tune into what they refer to as the craniosacral system and its function. Some call this pulse “the breath of life”.

As a holistic therapy, craniosacral therapy addresses the whole body and emphasizes harmony, balance, energy, rhythm, and flow. Practitioners measure the pulse and their findings allow them to determine how to focus their treatment from that point on, with an attempt to remove any obstructions that may stop the body from functioning in a healthy manner via light touch adjustments. Each craniosacral therapy treatment takes about 30-60 minutes. Patients battling pleural mesothelioma may find craniosacral therapy to be particularly beneficial.

What are the Advantages of this Therapy?

There are no scientific studies that show any definitive advantages to using craniosacral therapy in the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. However, proponents of the treatment and patients who have experimented with its use note that - like many other complementary therapies - it may promote a feeling of relaxation and help relieve the stress associated with cancer, including that associated with malignant mesothelioma. Many cancer patients who’ve tried craniosacral therapy have noted a decrease in pain caused by the disease or treatments for the disease. Patients have also seen a reduction in headaches. Therapists also claim that craniosacral therapy can help enhance the immune system, though there is no proof of that claim.

What are the Risks?

There are generally no risks associated with craniosacral therapy. However, if the patient has had a head injury or if his/her cancer is in the bones, manipulation could cause injury or additional pain. Any cancer patient seeking this treatment should speak frankly to the practitioner about their limitations.

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