What are the viscera?
The viscera refer to all the organs in your chest and abdomen and include: Heart, lungs, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, esophagus, stomach, small & large intestines, kidney, & bladder. In women it also includes your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries; in men the prostate.
I thought that was for the medical doctors to address. How are the viscera related to physical therapy?
Though visceral problems must often be addressed through medical interventions, we find that frequently a problem related to digestion, a women’s health issue, or even a simple low back pain may be a mechanical visceral problem and can be resolved with gentle Functional Manual Therapy (FMT) techniques. Our goal is to not only reduce or eliminate painful symptoms, but to help prevent their return. Often medication dosages can be decreased or discontinued all together in some cases, but only with physician approval.
How do you treat the viscera?
For organs to function properly, they must be able to slide on each other. Just like when we injure our muscles and joints, or have to undergo surgery, the scar tissue that forms in the healing process makes us stiffer than before. It is important to have this tissue mobilized as part of the rehabilitation process to be healthy again. Well, the same thing can happen with organs. Scar tissue develops from either: an abdominal surgery like removal of the gall bladder, appendix, C-sections, etc., or from inflammation in the digestive tract related to poor diet, food allergies (i.e. gluten), food poisoning, irritable bowel syndrome, or acid reflux. Also, the organs can get stuck together from either hormonal issues related to menstrual cycles or menopause, or from mechanical issues such as poor breathing mechanics, bad posture, sedentary lifestyles, or from stress. When these “stuck” places are mobilized through FMT, we find the organs can function in a healthier way and pain is often resolved.
How would I know if I have a visceral problem that physical therapy can address?
The body is very complex obviously. But here are a few examples of organs and the symptoms that could be related to their dysfunction:
Stay tuned next week for PART 2 of the visceral discussion. There’s more to come related to the kidneys, bladder, women’s health organs, and the coccyx (it’s integral relationship to viscera).