What is Visceral Manipulation

The word “viscera” refers to the internal organs of the body, such as the kidneys, liver, diaphragm and intestines. Pain in the body that is caused by irritation of organs is called viscero-somatic(organ-body) pain. This is similar to pain in the body that is caused by the mind which we call psycho-somatic(mind-body) pain. Visceral manipulation is a gentle way to work with the mobility of organs to normalize physiology.

Organ systems need a consistent blood supply just like other muscles of the body. Nutrition must come in and waste must be removed. Your fight or flight response to stress includes constricting blood vessels to decrease the blood supply to the digestive system and increasing it to the muscles needed to fight or run. This survival strategy is meant to end when you have escaped. But in a world of constant stressor or post trauma, your nervous system can become stuck in this cycle. Problems arise when the system doesn’t return to normal. Muscular walls become tight and irritated, the low oxygen environment becomes acidic and normal function is affected.  All these things then become stressors to the nervous system. Just as with the musculature of the body, this can set up a vicious cycle. 

By relaxing muscles, increasing blood flow and freeing minor motion between structures, this non-invasive, manual approach can lessen pain or discomfort felt locally or elsewhere.  That’s why it is sometimes referred to as the “missing link” for relieving musculoskeletal pain, digestive distress, and biomechanical dysfunction.

Visceral manipulation can be a good adjunct to other treatments or the primary focus of treatment for things such as: 

  • General belly discomfort
  • Scar release related to surgical history
  • Elimination issues (constipation, diarrhea or “irritable bowel”)
  • Liver or gall bladder congestion
  • Gastric reflux
  • Back and extremity pain or tightness
  • Sinus involvement
  • Head aches 
  • and many other issues

Here are some research links:

https://www.barralinstitute.com/docs/articles/osteopathic-management-of-chronic-constipation-pilot-study.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19217105

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21943617