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Visceral Manipulation
What is Visceral Manipulation?
Referred pain from the viscera

Another facet of chronic pain is pain that can have its origins elsewhere, here specifically in the viscera. This can cause local pain or causing adaptations with a change in posture or function.

All the viscera are attached to something. That something could be the chest, the respiratory diaphragm, the back, or the pelvis. The viscera also like to 'move' and if they cannot move the way they wish, they will have voice - they give us symptoms

Visceral Manipulation is used to locate and solve problems throughout the body. It encourages the body's natural mechanisms to improve the functioning of it's organs, dissipate the negative effects of stress, enhance mobility of the musculoskeletal system through the connective tissue attachments, and influence general metabolism.

Visceral Manipulation is a gentle, hands-on, therapy to encourage such normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and their connective tissues. All these gentle manipulations can potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body.

An example of this is the heart.

In the embryo, it is found in the neck and upper chest. As the diaphragm (which also has its origins in the neck) descends, so does the heart and it takes a nerve supply with it from the neck. The heart is also wrapped up in the pericardium, and ligaments connect it to the spine (in the neck and chest) and sternum.  

All this is reason that the heart can refer symptoms to the left neck/shoulder/arm and the angle of the jaw on the left with situations like a heart attack, as well as the ‘usual’ one of crushing, pain behind the sternum.

Visceral attachments in the body

The pictures also show the regions of the back that have relations with it from its attachments from the gut. The shaded regions show regions covered with peritoneum (hence can be freely movable) and bare areas (that show where tissues have a direct attachment to the back).  

Structures that have a direct relationship with the back can refer pain directly to those areas. Note here the ascending and descending colon have a direct connection with the back and the lines drawn across the back by the mesentery of the other regions of the gut. The attachments can cause referred pain through to the back.

Visceral relationships with the back

This is a picture of the posterior body wall. The grey areas show all the  organs that are attached directly to, and have a direct relationship with, the back

In addition to these, there are gut attachments to the respiratory diaphragm (these can give referred symptoms back up to the shoulder and neck (through the phrenic nerve and autonomic nerves), and to the pelvis, giving pain and stiffness in the hips and lower limbs.

These all can give rise to pain pictures elsewhere in the body, as shown here.

Visceral pain referral patterns
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