Visceral Manipulation

by Dr. Erin Carr, March 30, 2017

I was recently contacted by Vogue Magazine for insight about an article they were writing on Visceral Manipulation. In the end, the East Coast based author decided to do the article with someone local to her in New York. After I read her article. It inspired me to write this blog to provide more detailed information and shed more light on the subject. If you are someone struggling with pain… Someone who wants to learn more about the established, well respected, healing properties Visceral Mobilization can provide. I have written this for you.


What is Visceral Manipulation?

Above all, visceral manipulation is a gentle unique hands on approach to help one get out of pain. The core concepts of visceral work are built upon a strong foundation of an integrative whole body approach. It utilizes specific hands on techniques to address imbalances found in all of the organ systems. Some including Digestive, Circulatory, Nervous, Reproductive and Musculoskeletal.

These techniques were originally developed by Jean-Pierre Barral. He is a French Osteopath and Physical Therapist. Visceral Manipulation and physical therapy create a symbiotic relationship for a whole body approach to healing the body from injury. In lay terms, some may refer to visceral manipulation as “organ massage.” However, more complexities are involved to these techniques than simple massage. In order to have long term results, addressing fascia restrictions around the nerves, blood vessels, and organs is essential for return to optimal function.


Can I benefit from Visceral Manipulation?

In fact, visceral manipulation can be of benefit to anyone who is ready to try a different approach to healing common injuries or pain. Do you have acute or chronic back pain?  Have you had headaches? Do you have whiplash or injuries from a car accident? Are you a weekend warrior with various sports injuries? Have you had an abdominal surgery or a c-section? Is there scar tissue anywhere in your body from an old injury? Are you experiencing hip or knee pain? Have you had a recent ankle sprain? Do you cope with chronic pain on a regular basis? Are you struggling with repetitive overuse ailments from your work place? If you answered, ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you would likely benefit from a treatment that incorporates visceral manipulation techniques.

The greatest benefits of visceral manipulation are its potential abilities to eliminate or greatly reduce pain and inflammation. All while helping repair tissue and improve overall function no matter the injury.


What can you expect during a session that utilizes visceral manipulation?

First, you will want to wear loose comfortable clothing. During the session, you are able to stay fully dressed. Some practitioners may have you wear a gown. In general, the specific area of your body is exposed, similar to when receiving a massage. However, some practitioners may also work on you through a thin layer of clothing.

Then, the physical therapist or osteopath you are seeking treatment from should do a full assessment to determine what areas to treatment. Common areas of visceral manipulation treatment include the rib cage, abdomen or pelvis.

If you receive treatment that addresses scar tissue, you may experience some tenderness or mild discomfort. However, most say it feels good, as it is freeing up tight tissue that may be the cause of pain. Scar tissue can cause restriction in the muscles contributing to back pain, sciatic symptoms, hip or knee pain for example.

Some visceral manipulation for restrictions in the digestive tract or rib cage some techniques are a deeper touch while others much lighter. You may feel tenderness, tightness, or even a gurgling of your tummy as the tissues start to relax.

Do you experience numbness, tingling or swelling as some of your symptoms? Visceral manipulation treatment may focus along nerves, arteries or lymph vessels. When performing techniques along these areas, the touch is much lighter. It may  feel like a gentle stretch or pressure resulting in mild tingling, numbness or heat as blood flow increases to the area.


What to expect after the session?

It’s important to note everyone’s experience differs. Treatment is unique to each individual based on symptoms and injury. You may experience a reproduction of the pain you originally came in for, a relaxation of the symptoms you described or both. However, either response is positive. It means we are addressing the appropriate areas. You should experience some pain relief after the treatment session ends. It is important that you drink lots of water to help process the treatment. It is also recommended that you continue treatments one time per week or two times per month until pain subsides and function restores.


The take away?

In conclusion, visceral manipulation should be a fairly pleasant experience. However, if not performed properly by a skilled well versed practitioner, as a patient, you may experience side effects. Some including, temporary muscle soreness, an increase in symptoms, headaches and/or a detox effect.

When searching for the right practitioner, no matter how acute or chronic your pain or injury is, it is never too late to seek treatment. It is possible to improve your quality of life. If you aren’t sure if visceral manipulation is right for you, search for a local physical therapist or osteopath in your area to consult with to discuss the possibilities.




Dr. Erin Carr is owner and head practitioner of Dr. Carr Integrative Physical Therapy. Dr Carr has been featured in Malibu Times Magazine as a “Local Specialist”. Dr. Carr Integrative Physical Therapy’s therapists offer visceral manipulation among a variety of other techniques to help their patients get out of pain with long term results. We provide in office visits from our clinic in Santa Monica as well as off site home physical therapy for patients throughout many areas of Los Angeles, CA.




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