Who can benefit from craniosacral therapy?

Here’s a link to a good basic description of craniosacral therapy from the Cleveland Clinic.

These are conditions it helps with (and there are more, but these are the most common):

  • Chronic pain.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Migraine headache.
  • Complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fascial adhesions.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Temporo-mandibular joint syndrome (I use an integrative approach).
  • Stroke.
  • Post-concussion syndrome.

(I also treat many who have experienced trauma.)

These are conditions that need a release from a physician before treating:

  • Recent concussion or traumatic brain injury.
  • Cerebral swelling.
  • Structural defects in the cerebellum such as Arnold-Chiari malformation.
  • Brain aneurysm.
  • Blood clots.
  • Any disorder that causes instability of cerebral fluid pressure, flow or build-up.

Policies

Welcome.

I’m here to do my best for you. In this line of work, we are always seeking more health. You are too, or you wouldn’t be here. I look forward to working together.

Please read through my policies. I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

Appointments

Bodywork sessions are by appointment only. You may schedule your own appointment online. You may also contact me first (preferably scheduling a free phone consultation) if you have any questions.

Please try to arrive 5 minutes early to decompress before your session. If possible, allow yourself some down-time after your session to integrate.

Your appointment time is reserved exclusively for you. I send a reminder email and text 48 hours in advance of your start time.

If you need to reschedule, please be kind and do so as soon as possible. You may reschedule online or by emailing, texting, or leaving a voicemail for me.

If you miss an appointment with less than 24 hours of notice, you will be responsible for full payment for the session.

Rates

Initial appointments and 90 minute sessions: $165.

Follow-up appointments/60 minute sessions: $135.

Multi-session packages and subscriptions are discounted by 10 percent.

Payment

When you schedule yourself online, you prepay with a credit card.

If you prefer to pay with cash, check made out to MaryAnn Reynolds, or a cash app, I will need to schedule your session for you.

Special instructions for American Express cards: enter the card number minus the last digit. Then enter the four-digit CVV code. Then enter the last digit of the credit card number. If this doesn’t work, try another type of card or ask me to send you a payment request in PayPal or Venmo.

I accept Health Care Savings Account and Flexible Spending Account cards.

Tips are not accepted. I do appreciate feedback (both positive and about how I can improve), and spreading the word to others in person or in writing about a good experience is deeply appreciated.

I do not work with insurance companies, but if you request a receipt, I can provide one after your session(s) that you can submit to your insurance company or HCSA/FSA plan for reimbursement.

Packages and subscriptions

Multi-session packages and subscriptions are discounted by 10 percent.

Packages never expire, though some are best used with the time limitations specified, and they are non-refundable.

If you buy a package and cannot use all the sessions, you may request a gift certificate for the balance. 

Subscriptions are for regular sessions, either weekly, twice-monthly, or monthly. Missed subscription appointments do not roll over and are not refundable. Subscriptions do not expire until you cancel, and you may also restart any time. 

Package and subscription prices remain the same for the duration of the package or subscription, regardless of fee increases. 

If you would like to request a package, gift certificate, or subscription not listed, please contact MaryAnn at 512-507-4184.

COVID policy

When Austin/Travis County is in Stage 4 or 5, masks are required at all times in the office suite and in my private office, regardless of vaccination status.

The only exception is during the intraoral portion of TMJ Relief sessions. I require you to be fully vaccinated (preferably with booster) to receive intraoral work. I will ask you to rinse and swish your mouth thoroughly with an antiseptic solution before working in your mouth.

If you are not vaccinated, I can offer a TMJ Relief session without the intraoral work. Since half your jaw muscles are on the outside of your head, it will be helpful.

I run a Winix air filter at all times when I am working.

If you have a sore throat, fever, or other symptoms of illness, please reschedule your session.

In Stage 3 or below, you may be unmasked inside my private office and I will ask you if you are comfortable with me unmasking. (I’m triple vaxxed.)

Comments enabled and welcome

I just learned that dozens of people left comments from the Contact page of this website that I didn’t know about. Some of them went back to 2017.

Some of you contacted me by phone, and we tended to the issue. I have not heard back from everyone who left a comment, however. I am sorry if you left a comment and never heard back from me.

I have fixed the problem so that now I get an email notification if someone leaves a comment.

Moving up the learning curve…MaryAnn.

Massage therapy for jaw pain

The January/February 2019 issue of Massage & Bodywork (magazine for massage therapists) includes the article “Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: Biting Off More Than We Can Chew”. It’s full of information about the anatomy, pathology, demographics, contributing factors, symptoms, and treatment options for TMJD. The author is Ruth Werner, who wrote A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology.

The article mentions that many dental professionals enthusiastically recommend massage therapy as an early intervention for TMJ disorders, which are often accompanied by dysfunction elsewhere in the body — the shoulder girdle, pelvis, and feet, for example.   Regular massage therapy sessions can also help relieve pain and tension in the external jaw muscles.

The author states, “The [internal] pterygoid muscles require more specialized skill… Work inside the mouth carries some serious responsibilities… It’s not for beginners, and it’s not for dabbling. When things go wrong in this joint, problems can reverberate through the whole body… [Massage therapists working inside the mouth should] get advanced training…

“Intraoral massage may trigger unintended responses… Emotional release in response to work in and around the mouth is also a strong possibility. It is critical that massage therapists be mindful of their scope of practice and respectful of their clients’ processes if this happens. Massage therapists must be prepared to be present, nonjudgmental, and appropriately supportive for this kind of event. Once again, it’s not for dabblers. If you want to do this work, get appropriate training.”

After reading this, I feel good about what I do. Massage therapists trained to work inside the mouth mostly follow three paths of advanced training: craniosacral therapy (like me), neuromuscular therapy, and structural integration (aka Rolfing).

Also, not all craniosacral therapists or neuromuscular therapists work with the internal pterygoid muscles, so be sure to ask beforehand if that’s what you expect. That was part of my training with Ryan Hallford, not (so far) with the Upledger Institute.

Also, I’m thanking the Upledger Institute for my training in SomatoEmotional Release as well as past experience and research in trauma recovery.

I’m grateful to see that treatment for TMJ disorders by licensed massage therapists is getting media attention, and that TMJD itself is getting more recognition. The TMJ Association recently announced that the National Institutes of Health have agreed to do more research. It’s very much needed — practitioners know what we don’t know, and it’s a lot.

Treating TMJ issues: the effects of stress

For decades, the news has cautioned us about the ill effects of stress on our health, longevity, and happiness. But what is stress and how do you know when you are experiencing it? What does it have to do with jaw pain and dysfunction? Most of all, what can you do about it?

Stress is your body’s response to threats, real or imagined. You become alert, focused, and energized, ready for action. It is a physiological response designed to protect you in dangerous situations, to get you away from the danger or to confront it. Something in us is always scanning for danger and ready to respond.

It also gives you the energy to meet life’s challenges, for example, taking a test, interviewing for a job, making an important presentation, having a difficult conversation, scoring a point, winning a game, driving safely. Doing anything difficult where you care about the outcome requires some extra energy and focus.

So stress isn’t inherently bad — but too much stress can damage your health and quality of life. In the fight-or-flight response (sympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system), your body releases stress hormones. Your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises, your muscles tense, your breathing quickens, and your senses become sharper, all so you can respond to the situation.

We’re designed to respond this way in extraordinary situations, and the rest of the time (which ideally would be most of the time), to live peacefully, nourishing ourselves, cooperating with the group, resting, relaxing, having fun, and enjoying our lives (parasympathetic dominance, or rest-and-digest mode).

Physiologically, the heart rate slows, breathing slows, blood pressure goes down, muscles relax, and attention becomes broader. In this state, your system has more resources for digesting and assimilating your food and repairing damage.

The switch from rest-and-digest to fight-or-flight occurs quickly and automatically, bypassing your conscious mind. You become aware afterwards that your state has changed.

This is a good exercise: How do you know you are experiencing stress? What tips you off? Do you notice a sudden sharp inhalation and muscle tension? (That’s what I notice.) Do you feel your heart pounding? Do you notice that your mind suddenly becomes focused and alert?

Another good exercise: How do you know you’re okay? Is there a kinesthetic signature that lets you know you are relaxed? I feel a peaceful, happy feeling in my chest. What do you notice?

What does stress have to do with jaw pain and dysfunction? Almost every bit of information available about the causes of TMD connects it to stress. Muscle tension is a universal response to stress. The jaw muscles tighten.

Most everyone experiences stress, but not everyone experiences jaw symptoms. No one seems to know why this is. Here are some of my observations and hypotheses.

  • I’ve observed that most people carry way more muscle tension from stress in their upper bodies, in the upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw, and/or face. For some, all of those places get tense. For others, only one or two get tense.
  • The jaw is the only part involved in chewing and talking. Chewing doesn’t have any associations with threats or danger that I can think of. If the food tastes good and is safe and your teeth and jaws are healthy, chewing is a pleasure.
  • Talking can be dangerous. Some clients have directly related the onset of their jaw symptoms with feeling unsafe about freely expressing themselves about a difficult situation they had with another human being. This could have happened long, long ago, with the unpleasant memory being repressed.
  • Some people have had so much stress and/or trauma in their lives, it’s become chronic. They don’t know how to deeply relax.

Maybe some people are predisposed to have jaw issues. It could be from the strains of their birth and an attempt to reshape the head. It could be a learned strain pattern that runs in their family. It could be from a lack of nutrients that help form healthy jaws (read more about the work of Weston A. Price, DDS, on this topic). I’m sure there are many other possibilities.

I do know that for everyone, help is available. You can release (or get help releasing) the tension in your jaw muscles. You can examine your past, with psychotherapeutic help or by journaling or talking to a trusted friend. You can learn to deeply relax, and it’s a pleasure. And that’s a good topic for tomorrow.