Visceral Manipulation

Did you know that some Physiotherapists have undertaken post-graduate training in the treatment of your organs (viscera), such as your intestines, liver, gall bladder, stomach & kidneys?

This is a fascinating branch of manual therapy that has been developed largely by a French Physiotherapist & Osteopath called Jean-Pierre Barral. It concerns the health of the organs & the effects that can happen (such as low back pain or poor energy levels) when the organs are dysfunctional.

We regularly see patients with pain that doesn’t seem to make sense or fit the classic pictures. It may not make sense either medically (to their GP) or physically (i.e. it doesn’t seem to be a mechanical pain that hurts with certain movements).

Examples include right shoulder pain that is cleared with liver manipulation; left shoulder pain that is cleared with stomach manipulation; low back pain that is cleared with bowel manipulation; leg pain that is cleared with kidney manipulation.

So how does it work?

The viscera do not stay still in our bodies. They should always be moving & there are 2 types of movement that are recognised. ‘Motility’ refers to the unique pattern of movement that an organ will go through on its own. ‘Mobility’ refers to the ability of an organ to be moved – pulled by its soft tissue connections or pushed downwards by the diaphragm for example.

All sorts of problems can be reported by people when the viscera are not moving effectively. These symptoms can include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), constipation, reflux, bloating, restrictions in general movement and pains in many areas.

The main goal of treatment is to detect areas of restriction and to release these areas. It is non-painful soft tissue work that can be extremely gentle, yet effective. Good Physios use a combination of art & science to help people & the assessment of an organ’s ability to move is based on our experience & skill with our hands. We can also use a hands-on technique called ‘listening’. Please see the page entitled listening to the body.