What is visceral osteopathy?
Visceral refers to the viscera, the organs of the body. Visceral osteopathy focuses its attention on treating the organs and their enveloping fascia. Each organ in good health is moving independently of its surroundings. Any restriction, fixation or adhesion to another structure, no matter how small, may diminish the function of the organ. Visceral osteopathy looks at those impairments and treats them with manual techniques.
What can be treated with visceral osteopathy?
Different organs have connections to different parts of the skeletal system. The liver can cause problems in the right shoulder and neck, the stomach may be responsible for rib pain and lower back pain on the left side and the small intestine may aggravate lower limb pain syndromes.
If chronic pain persists despite regular treatment and self care, visceral adhesions may be the underlying factor.
An excellent indication for visceral osteopathy is the treatment of scar tissue. After surgery in the abdominal and lower pelvic area, an osteopath can check for adhesions, and if the scar negatively influences the skeletal system and posture.
Especially with asthma and other respiratory diseases, restrictions can be found in the chest area and the diaphragm. Releasing those restrictions helps the client to breathe easier and deeper.
Visceral osteopathy is an excellent supportive therapy in treating functional digestive problems like IBS, flatulence or “belly ache”. By improving the inherent motion of each organ, the blood and lymph flow increases and the function of this organ can improve over time. It is important to note, that visceral osteopathy does not replace healthy eating and lifestyle habits. It is also important that the client has received a medical diagnosis about their digestive condition before starting visceral treatment.
How does it work?
The therapist may work in a structural way by palpating the organ and gently moving it into different directions. If a restriction is felt, the practitioner decides if it needs a direct adjustment by stretching the tight ligament or an indirect adjustment by treating the surroundings of the adhesion. The therapist can also palpate the primary respiratory rhythm (inherent motion of an organ) and work on improving its amplitude and direction. This is a very subtle and gentle technique and some people may not “feel” anything, others experience a widening and opening of the chest or abdominal area or associate the work with emotions and memories.
Scientists talk about a “Second Brain” in our belly. An independent network of neurons regulates digestion, produces serotonin and works together with our immune system. The vagus nerve is one of the most important nerves in our “Second Brain”. By reducing adhesions in the abdominal and thoracic regions, the nervous system can improve its function and may positively influence mood and brain activity.