‘Visceral Therapy’ – the organ therapy
If you suffer from chronic back pain, you’re unable to get pregnant or have had a stomach operation then visceral therapy might interest you. Visceral therapy (aka visceral manipulation) often helps where other methods fail and is frequently the missing link to treatment of some dysfunctions.
The author of this technique, Jean Pierre Barral, is a French osteopath and physiotherapist. The story of how Barral began his research in the relations of the spine and viscera dates back to 1974, when he received a patient who suffered from back pain. Barral, using mainly spinal manipulation techniques, had tried to treat the pain but was unsuccessful. To Barral’s surprise, the patient had come back to him after a period of time confirming that he was relieved from his back pain only after visiting a local healer in the mountains that ‘’pushed his hand into his abdomen’’. Barral was intrigued by his patient’s testimony and began to explore abdominal manipulations and its links to postural dysfunctions, and gradually came to develop the specific but gentle therapy known to us today as visceral manipulation.
How may our organs cause dysfunction?
The internal organs are not loosely placed in the abdominal cavity, but are connected to each other and to other structures by means of ligaments and soft tissue. If an inflammation, operation, or change in the function of a structure occurs, it negatively influences an organ’s ability to move within its space causing it to pull on these ligaments and fascia, creating adhesions instead. The dysfunction can then pass on to seemingly unexpected and unrelated sites far away from the affected area.
To give an example; how could adhesions around the small intestine be a source of chronic back pain? The answer can be found in the anatomy of the abdominal cavity. The small intestine is attached to the radix mesenteric membrane, which is located in front of the second to fifth lumbar vertebrae. The small intestine immobility is thus transferred to the lumbar spine. The structures around the lumbar spine are then exposed to unnatural mechanical influences that affect their function. Over time, our body tries to compensate via other strategies and due to overloading, the lower back starts to hurt and typically transfer the pain to other areas as well.
So how does the method work?
Visceral therapy is a gentle hands-on manual method. It’s a specific and mechanical therapy that requires extensive knowledge of the anatomy of the body and how its components are inter-related. The therapist first evaluates and traces the body to where the main tension lies, and then applies the VM technique; using soft compressions to mobilize and elongate the restricted structures, in order to restore balance and mobility to the affected area. This can easily be imagined like adding a spoon of oil to a bowl of cooked spaghetti, giving it the ability to move and glide along each other freely in its space. This provides the body the opportunity to adapt itself back to its healthy state, gradually decreasing the use of compensatory mechanisms and pain symptoms.
In which cases is visceral therapy appropriate? Visceral therapy can help and benefit many disorders directly relating to internal organs, such as: abdominal or pelvic surgery, functional sterility, acid reflux, stomach pain or heartburn, liver disorders, digestive disorders, incontinence, depression and other musculoskeletal syndromes especially reoccurring muscle pain, sciatica, headaches and migraines, back pain, Whiplash and traumatic injuries and much more.
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