Objectives: To evaluate the effects of craniosacral therapy on disability, pain intensity, quality of life, and mobility in patients with low back pain.
Design: A single-blinded randomized controlled trial.
Patients: 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).
Interventions: Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group (10 sessions of craniosacral therapy) or a control group (10 sessions of classic massage).
Outcome measures: 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.
Conclusions: 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.

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Published In

cover image The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 22Issue Number 8August 2016
Pages: 650 - 657
PubMed: 27347698


Published in print: August 2016
Published online: 1 August 2016
Published ahead of print: 27 June 2016


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Adelaida María Castro-Sánchez, PT, PhD
Department of Nursing, Physical Therapy and Medicine, University of Almeria, Almeria, Spain.
Inmaculada Carmen Lara-Palomo, PT, PhD
Department of Nursing, Physical Therapy and Medicine, University of Almeria, Almeria, Spain.
Guillermo A. Matarán-Peñarrocha, MD, PhD
Primary Health Care, Andalucia Health Service, Andalucia, Spain.
Manuel Saavedra-Hernández, PT, PhD
Department of Nursing, Physical Therapy and Medicine, University of Almeria, Almeria, Spain.
José Manuel Pérez-Mármol, OT
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
María Encarnación Aguilar-Ferrándiz, PT, PhD
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria Granada (IBIS), Granada, Spain.


Address correspondence to:Adelaida María Castro-Sánchez, PT, PhDDepartment of Nursing, Physical Therapy and MedicineUniversity of AlmeriaCarretera de Sacramento s/n 04120AlmeríaSpain
E-mail: [email protected]

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No competing financial interests exist.

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