Abdominal & Gastric Pain

Visceral Osteopathy

Similar to cranial osteopathy, visceral osteopathy must not be considered as a separate branch but as an integral part of the osteopathic field. Based on the same principles, it simply enables the osteopath to assess and treat a wider range of medical and osteopathic conditions, giving more holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment.

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A restriction in the mobility of an organ will inevitably result in time with an impairment of the organ’s function. With chronicity the dysfunction may lead to changes in the organ’s structure. For example, a dysfunction of the stomach will often trigger an impairment of the acid/mucus production and may lead to acid reflux. Diagnosed on time, this process is reversible, however if untreated this condition can degenerate and result in ulcers and other serious health problems.

Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy considered that “mobility is life”. Physiological mobility of an organ is the ability for relative movement within the abdominal/thoracic cavity. This freedom of movement gives the organs enough elasticity to accomplish their digestive, respiratory and circulatory function. The organ’s mobility can be affected by various causes, from intense emotional stress, direct trauma, scar tissue and surgical adhesions, drugs and alcohol, to infections and chronic musculoskeletal problems.

A restriction of the organ will not only affect its own function but as well the surrounding structures; for example a congestion of the liver can give rise to recurring stitches due to its attachment to the abdominal diaphragm. Similarly a visceral dysfunction can trigger symptoms in musculoskeletal system, such as menstruation induced low back pain.

In fact due to the relative poor innervation of the organs, visceral problems will most often manifest themselves though referred pain elsewhere in the body; and many persistent chronic musculoskeletal conditions are found to be linked with an underlying dysfunction in the visceral system.

Trough palpation, the osteopath can assess for dysfunctions and adhesions of the visceral organs altering their mobility and function.
The practitioner will treat the affected organ using a combination of gentle massage and soft tissue techniques as well as subtle functional techniques to release deeper tissues. Although sometimes mildly uncomfortable, visceral examination and treatment is generally pain free because of the use of light touch. It is suitable for all patients, from babies with digestive difficulties, to adults with visceral or menstrual pain.