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Visceral Manipulation: What it is and who it's for.

Updated: Jul 4

I’ve had a handful of patients recently who have heard of visceral manipulation and are seeking out this specific treatment. This makes me so happy that people are finding out that there is a holistic way to treat restrictions around the organs and surrounding tissues. I’m going to share some information about visceral manipulation, why it’s important, and why I use it in my practice.

What is Visceral Manipulation?

Visceral Manipulation is a very gentle manual therapy used to mobilize the viscera, which are the internal organs of the body such as the liver, stomach, pelvic organs, and intestines as well as the connective tissue surrounding them.

The visceral organs require a certain amount of movement and glide on each other to support normal movement throughout the body. Surgeries, inflammation, and physical traumas can create tightness or adhesions in the visceral organs that in turn can limit the mobility in the trunk and limbs. To be able to reach up to a tall shelf, your arms need to be able to reach far over your head and require a stretch along your trunk. Your viscera also require quite a bit of stretch to accommodate that movement.

Who should seek out a visceral manipulation practitioner?

Anyone who has had thoracic, abdominal, or pelvic surgeries would benefit from seeing a visceral manipulation practitioner after they are well healed. Those who have struggled with either acute or chronic inflammatory conditions would greatly benefit as well. Some examples are: endometriosis, celiac disease, PCOS, IBS, and more.

People who suffer from chronic abdominal and pelvic pain can also experience great relief from visceral manipulation. Those with gut issues such as chronic constipation as well as bladder issues such as urgency/frequency and bladder pain conditions such as interstitial cystitis could also benefit from seeing a visceral practioner.

Visceral restrictions and tightness can lead to low back, hip, or shoulder pain as well as contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction due to limited mobility. When the organs aren’t able to move as well as they should, it can also lead to pelvic health conditions such as constipation, bladder urgency/frequency, abdominal pain, and painful menstruation.

What types of practitioners provide visceral manipulation?

Many different practitioners provide visceral manipulation. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors can all be trained in visceral manipulation. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, myself, I work primarly with women experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction and utilize visceral manipulation within my practice.

You can find a therapist who specializes in visceral manipulation from the Barral Institute website.

Why is visceral manipulation not a more common treatment?

I find that our medical systems often overlook or disregard scar tissue adhesions or believe they can’t be successfully treated. I rarely find that women who have abdominal or pelvic surgery are referred to physical therapy, despite the opportunity to restore mobility and reduce scar tissue adhesions. Many uncomfortable conditions can be prevented by people receiving appropriate treatment closer to the time of their surgeries.

Pelvic floor therapy used along side with visceral manipulation bodywork complement each other so beautifully by restoring the mobility and capacity of the pelvic space.

If you have had an abdominal or pelvic surgery, or if you think you may benefit from visceral manipulation. Please feel free to reach out to Sacred Roots Pelvic Health and Physical Therapy. We are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

visceral manipulation in a pelvic floor physical therapy session

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