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  • Writer's pictureCraniosacral Center of Grand Rapids

The Power of Craniosacral to Help With Post-Covid Pain and Long Covid Symptoms

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Treatment for post-covid and long-covid symptoms with craniosacral therapy

Ben Perrin isn’t usually a guy taken down by pain. After decades in construction and now running his own business, he considers himself pretty tough. Until last summer, when he met the worst pain of his life.

“I could barely walk. I was walking with a cane. I couldn’t drive. The pain was unbearable. I was thinking, ‘Is this it? Is it over?’”

Ben never got a clear diagnosis from the medical system for what he experienced, but he attributes his pain to Guillain Barre syndrome — an autoimmune disorder where person's own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness, pain and paralysis — brought on after a mild case of COVID-19.

A Mild Case of Covid With Debilitating, Long-Term Symptoms

Perrin didn’t actually know he had COVID until after it was over. He remembers now having a mild sore throat and runny nose for a few days, but only got tested and had his antibody levels checked after his daughter caught it. That was in May of 2021.

But about a month later, he started to notice that something was off. He was feeling weaker and disoriented. A back injury that had healed just fine a few months before was suddenly flaring up, even worse than before, leaving him in terrible pain. He was having debilitating leg cramps and muscle pain, as well as high blood pressure.

“I could barely even sleep at night,” said Perrin. “You have to get up to use the bathroom, and I would dread the thought of getting back up. There was no comfort whatsoever, even in deep sleep.”

The pain was all consuming. He could no longer drive and running his business was a struggle. After numerous visits to his doctor, multiple trips to the Emergency Room, CAT scans, MRIs, physical therapy and more, no one in the medical community was able to offer him any relief.

“All of a sudden I was sliding downhill. I was in a tailspin, and the doctors didn’t have any answers for me,” said Perrin. “I was pounding Tylenol and ibuprofen, but it wasn’t touching the pain. No one could do anything for me except offer me narcotics, which I didn’t want.”

Craniosacral Helps Begin a Healing Journey Post-Covid

Some friends suggested that Perrin go see craniosacral therapist Kelly O’Brien Pahman at the Craniosacral Therapy Center of Grand Rapids to see if it could help. At that point, in terrible pain with no way forward, Perrin was almost willing to try anything.

At his first visit to Kelly in August, he cringed at the thought of even getting in the car for his wife to drive him there and struggled to get up on the table. Within two and a half weeks, he was able to start driving again. Now, after seven months of treatment, he says he’s seen a very significant difference in his pain and quality of life.

“I’d say I’m 85 to 90 percent better. I can’t say I never have pain, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement. It’s still a mystery, but I’ve kept coming back to Kelly faithfully because of the improvement I’ve seen,” he says.

“Ben is an ambitious guy, and he can’t sit around and wait to get better, so he challenged every gain we made,” says Kelly. “We aggressively supported his body as he pushed the gains, but he was able to keep increasing his hours, finding a balance of what his body could do and how much more he could accomplish throughout the day.”

Unlike the treatment offered by his medical doctor, craniosacral was gentle enough that Ben could receive treatment. The physical therapy he had been prescribed felt like “torture.” Craniosacral was so gentle that it didn’t make his body feel worse than it already felt.

In addition, the care he received at the Craniosacral Center of Grand Rapids provided something that his medical doctors didn’t: compassion, empathy and the feeling that his pain mattered to someone.

“The medical system has good intentions, but I just felt like a number,” says Perrin. “Kelly is very compassionate, caring and loving. She is truly dedicated to finding you relief and healing.”

How Does Craniosacral Help with Post-Covid Symptoms?

Because he never really got a clear medical diagnosis and doesn’t have a way to quantitatively measure his progress, Ben says he can’t attribute his healing solely to receiving craniosacral therapy. He says he’s also been taking supplements and notes that the passage of time could be a factor as well. But he does know that receiving craniosacral therapy from Kelly brought him relief when nothing else did.

“I am definitely healing, and I am way better off than I was back in July. I’m hoping to stick with Kelly and continue that healing,” he says.

Ben isn’t Kelly’s only post-covid syndrome patient that has seen results through craniosacral. Another patient, Karen, had been struggling with fatigue and brain fog since having covid a few months ago. After only one treatment, she began to feel a difference in her body. A skilled apartment manager, she was always known for juggling multiple things and remembering details, but since having covid, she was struggling. A friend even suggested she get tested for ADHD.

“The day I left your office after our first appointment, I felt incredible. I felt clear headed and very centered,” said Karen. “I also got a sudden burst of energy at night. Originally when I got home I wanted to relax and go to bed early, but later, I felt energized and began cleaning the kitchen, washing the floors, and tidying up.”

Therapist Kelly O’Brien Pahman says not enough is known about what causes complications post-covid to fully understand how craniosacral therapy can help, but we do know that covid can sometimes attack the nervous system or provoke an over-reactive response in the immune system, causing the body to attack itself. According to the most recent research from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, these changes in the immune system have been noted in the cerebrospinal fluid of covid patients, including the presence of antibodies that may react with the nervous system. A recent study showed that even a mild case of covid may cause changes in the brain about as detrimental as 10 years of aging. Craniosacral therapy works with the body’s flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the brain and neurological system, which are directly impacted by the virus.

Just like anything else, each person and each case is unique. Some patients, such as Karen, have found complete relief with just one session of craniosacral therapy, whereas others, like Ben, have needed a longer duration of treatment to see symptoms resolve.

If you’ve been struggling post-covid with long term symptoms, fatigue, chronic pain or brain fog, consider booking a craniosacral therapy appointment at Craniosacral Center of Grand Rapids. At your intake appointment, our therapists will meet with you to discuss your history and symptoms, answer your questions and discuss a treatment plan to help you resolve your symptoms.

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