Craniosacral therapy, a light-touch bodywork technique practiced by many massage therapists, has been found in new research to provide “significant reduction in pain” in fibromyalgia patients.

The randomized, controlled trial investigated the effects of craniosacral therapy on pain and heart rate variability in fibromyalgia patients, according to a report published on It was conducted by researchers from the Department of Nursing and Physical Therapy at the University of Almería, in Spain.

“Fibromyalgia is a prevalent musculoskeletal disorder associated with widespread mechanical tenderness, fatigue, non-refreshing sleep, depressed mood and pervasive dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system: tachycardia, postural intolerance, Raynaud’s phenomenon and diarrhea,” the researchers noted.

Ninety-two patients with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to an intervention group or placebo group, according to the report. Patients received treatments for 20 weeks. The intervention group underwent a craniosacral therapy protocol and the placebo group received sham treatment with disconnected magnetotherapy equipment.

Results include:

• After 20 weeks of treatment, the intervention group showed significant reduction in pain at 13 of the 18 tender points;

• At two months and also at one year post therapy, the intervention group still showed significant differences in pain reduction versus baseline in several tender points.

“Craniosacral therapy improved medium-term pain symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia,” the researchers concluded.

Results of the study are running in the Aug. 11 issue of Clinical Rehabilitation.

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