What is Visceral Manipulation
"Viscera" relates to the internal organs of the body, such as the liver, kidneys and intestines. Visceral Manipulation is a gentle manual therapy that aids your body's ability to release restrictions and unhealthy compensations that cause pain and dysfunction. Visceral Manipulation, or VM, does not focus solely on the site of pain or dysfunction, but evaluates the entire body to find the source of the problem. The VM therapist feels for altered or decreased motion within the viscera, as well as restrictive patterns throughout the body and then applies VM techniques. VM therapy re-establishes the body's ability to adapt and restore itself to health.
How Can Organs Cause Pain and Dysfunction?
Your body is made up of many interrelated components such as bones, muscles, nerves, a thin connective tissue called fascia, as well as the internal organs (viscera). Your organs are in perpetual motion. When you breathe, walk and stretch, your organs move in your chest and abdomen. For example, when you take a breath, your kidneys move one inch; and with deep inhalation, they move 4 inches. In a day, they move a little over ½ mile. That's around 19,000 miles in a lifetime!
This movement of organs is transmitted through fascia to other structures of the body. When you are healthy, all the structures move with an interconnected fluidity. All of this movement is important as it influences activities throughout the body from the tiniest cellular pulsations to rhythmic contractions of the heart and blood flow. Optimum health relies on a harmonious relationship between the motions of the organs and other structures of the body.
There are many reasons for an organ to lose its mobility: physical traumas, surgeries, sedentary lifestyle, infections, pollution, bad diet, poor posture and pregnancy/delivery. When an organ is no longer freely mobile but is fixed to another structure, the body is forced to compensate. This disharmony creates fixed, abnormal points of tension and the chronic irritation gives way to functional and structural problems throughout the body – musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urinary, respiratory and digestive, to name a few.
Imagine scar tissue around the lungs. Because of the pull of the adhesion, with every breath, the movement patterns of the nearby structures would be altered. This could shift rib motion creating pulls on the spine. These restrictions might then show up as mid-back and neck pain, as well as limited motion in the shoulder. This scenario highlights just one of hundreds of possible ramifications of a small dysfunction - magnified by thousands of repetitions each day. This also explains how pain can often be far removed from the actual cause.
Visceral Manipulation can benefit:
- Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
- Headaches and Migraines
- Back, hip and Knee Pain
- Repetitive Strain Injuries (e.g. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
- Whiplash and Other Physical Trauma
- Shoulder Periarthritis and Capsulitis
- Restricted Range of Motion
- Post-Surgical Pain and Scar tissue
- Post-Cardiac Surgery
- Swallowing Difficulties
- Acid Reflux and Heartburn
- Women's Health Issues
- Fibroids and Cysts
- Bladder Incontinence
- Crohn's Disease
- Liver Disorders
- Digestive Disorders
- Pediatrics Issues
- Neuromotor Problems
- Ward off Infection
- Emotional Disorders
- Anxiety and Depression
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- And Much More
What is CranioSacral Therapy?
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions in the cranium and deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.
Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams - about the weight of a nickel - practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it's effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.
By normalizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord and enhancing the body's ability to self-correct, CranioSacral Therapy is able to alleviate a wide variety of dysfunctions, from chronic pain and sports injuries to stroke and neurological impairment.
How does CranioSacral Therapy Work?
Few structures have as much influence over the body's ability to function properly as the brain and spinal cord that make up the central nervous system. And, the central nervous system is heavily influenced by the craniosacral system - the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord.
Every day your body endures stresses and strains that it must work to compensate for. Unfortunately, these changes often cause body tissues to tighten and distort the craniosacral system. These distortions can then cause tension to form around the brain and spinal cord resulting in restrictions. This can create a barrier to the healthy performance of the central nervous system, and potentially every other system it interacts with.
Fortunately, such restrictions can be detected and corrected using simple methods of touch. With a light touch, the CST practitioner uses his or her hands to evaluate the craniosacral system by gently feeling various locations of the body to test for the ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around the brain and spinal cord. Soft-touch techniques are then used to release restrictions in any tissues influencing the craniosacral system.
What is Neural Manipulation
Neural Manipulation examines mechanical relationships between the cranium/spine hard frame to the dura and neural elements. It provides assessment and treatment approaches to address restrictions of the dural and neural components not commonly focused on with musculoskeletal symptoms. Neural Manipulation identifies and releases local nerve restrictions while at the same time examines the effect these local fixations have on the rest of the body, and by accessing this relationship, resolves the more comprehensive (global) dysfunctional patterns.
A nerve only functions correctly when it is able to move feely within its surrounding structures. The modality of Neural Manipulation facilitates nerve conductivity and intraneural blood supply for local and systemic responsiveness. By understanding the detailed anatomy of the neural manipulation, one can clearly see the potential for pathological change when nerves are restricted.
Manual therapy, as it applies to the treatment of nerves, follows the standard principles of mobility and function. For optimal function nerves must be able to move freely within its surroundings. This freedom of movement is essential for:
- Nerve Conduction
- Electromagnetic Conduction
- Intraneural Blood Supply
- Intraneural Nerve Supply
- Local and Systemic Responsiveness
- Neural Fixation
When a nerve is fixed, it typically looses its ability to glide and/or stretch in length. The intra- or peri-neural pressure dramatically increases, at the same time there are changes in consistency. The nerve pathway shows functional interferences (blood supply or electric and/or electromagnetic conductivity).
With fixation smaller nerve sections can harden. They feel like buds and are very sensitive or painful to the touch. Such "Nerve Buds" are an indication of an intraneural interference, an overload of physiological pressure points or a local fibrosis. Nerve buds can be released very quickly, sometimes within one therapy session.
Palpation of the skin branches of peripheral nerves can be useful for evaluative, as well for therapeutic considerations. When evaluating the skin branches, if they are sensitive or painful to pressure, typically there is a fixation of the deeper nerve branches.
Neural Manipulation and its Influence on Organs
Visceral Manipulation techniques can affect the movement apparatus and vice versa. It is important to note that the release of sensitive nerve buds can have a favorable effect on the functioning of the corresponding visceral organs. The neural manipulation is involved in all body functions and without neural control certain visceral activity cannot be maintained. The stimulation of nerves is processed centrally and reported back to the body as feedback. This sequence of responses functions providing no interference (fixation) is present.
Whether the structures involved include joints, fascia, viscera, brain and peripheral nerves, or emotional centers, proper evaluation is essential for good therapeutic results. The treatment of a normal nerve section (without fixation) has no adverse effect, however a local nerve irritation can result.
Generally, one thinks of a trauma as a severe injury that causes damage. This definition encompasses different gradients of external forces acting on the body. For example, not every joint trauma leads to a fracture or dislocation, which is verifiable by x-ray. From a medical standpoint, patients are often considered to be perfectly healthy, even though they are not at all the same as they were before sustaining a trauma. The same is generally true for the neural manipulation and the nerves. Traumatic nerve lesions typically do not result in a recognizable, well defined, clinical picture. Instead a broad spectrum of disturbances can be found. Because of their inconsistency and lack of evidence (with conventional examination methods and imaging procedures) symptoms are often overlooked.
Often functional nerve lesions develop after neurotropic diseases (like herpes zoster) or as a result of posture imbalances. More frequently they derive from mechanical forces and energies: friction, pressure (compression) or traction forces (stretch), all of which affect the nerves. To bring about lesions, a trauma does not have to be severe. Often, it is a matter of repetitive micro-traumas. For example, a non-physiological movement, a harmless sprain, faulty posture or muscle contractions. Pathological processes can take place intra- and extraneurally.
Intraneurally the trauma affects distinct nerve structures: demyelination, neurinoma, hypoxia of certain fibers (in the conducting nerve tissues), epineural scarring, perifascicular edema, fibrosis, irritation of the arachnoid space or the dura mater (in the neural connective tissue).
These categories of pathology are rarely found in isolation. Clinically we typically find several together. Extraneural disturbances are caused chiefly by a narrowing of the spinal canal. Trauma can also impact the "nerve bud" or a functional intersection of the nerve tissue. For example, a nerve or epidural hematoma, an epineural tissue fixation, a dura adhesion in the spinal canal, as well as pressure caused by bone or muscle swelling can result.
Intra- and extraneural function disturbances often occur in tandem. In our opinion, they are closely connected with a neural fixation dysfunction and/or are even the cause of it. Our aim is to treat this kind of fixation with manual techniques or at least to minimize their negative results.
How Does Neural Manipulation Help You?
With interferences in certain body zones, the respective spinal cord and/or brain structures may also be irritated. A peripheral nerve treatment can influence these so-called facilitated areas and therefore promote a common or systemic effect. Manual treatments are basically effective due to the mechanical effects that cause neural stimuli, which can be transmitted at a local or central level. Manual neural manipulation changes intra- and extraneural pressure, improves sympathetic function to blood vessels due to the auto-innervation of the sympathetic gangli and sympathetic innervation of peri-neural connective tissues both of which are affected with treatment of fixations in the nerve sheaths.
What is Myofascial Release?
Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. This essential "time element" has to do with the viscous flow and the piezoelectric phenomenon: a low load (gentle pressure) applied slowly will allow a viscoelastic medium (fascia) to elongate.
Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.)
The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, self-treatment instruction, enhancement of strength, improved flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.
Each Myofascial Release Treatment session is performed directly on skin without oils, creams or machinery. This enables the therapist to accurately detect fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate release of the fascia.