Lower back pain: Lower Back Pain? The key may be in your giblets!

My patients often hear me talk about “fascia” – the thin fibrous body suit that covers and connects all the tissues of the body, including muscles, joints and internal organs. For the carnivores amongst you, you will have seen it as the thin white membranes between the sections of lamb chop.

Fascia is one of the reasons why it is never as effective to just treat the area of pain; a therapist must look further afield as well to really unravel a problem. Everything is connected; no part is isolated or exempt.

So you will notice that I mentioned above that internal organs are wrapped in this white fibrous layer too. This layer then extends to the surrounding structures, for example the fascia surrounding the heart will indirectly or directly attach to ribs, muscles, lungs, the spine and further afield. Everything blends and each internal organ has a fascial connection to the spine.

So might manipulating the viscera (internal organs) that attach to the lower back help with low back pain?

Visceral Manipulation was developed by Jean-Pierre Barral, a physical therapist and osteopath. He observed that any structure that crosses and joint has the ability to restrict that joint. It is certainly accepted that this is true for muscles, but he suggests it is also true for organs. Barral’s in-depth study of patterns of stress in the tissues of cadavers led him to recognise the potential for the organ system to create lines of tension within the body.

Organs can become restricted via direct trauma, acute/chronic illness (eg. pneumonia, irritable bowel syndrome), absorbing the force of a road motor vehicle accident (seat belt trauma), chronic emotional stress or scar tissue formed after surgery.

We take approximately 24,000 breaths a day and our heart beats 120,000 times per day. Like muscles and joints, organs too need to be able to move to stay healthy. Any lack of mobility in these structures could promote chronic spinal restrictions.

The key to Visceral Manipulation is the find the most significant areas of reduced mobility. A restriction will pull the surrounding tissue towards it. With training and experience, the pull of these tissues can be felt with your hands and gently released.

I use visceral osteopathy as part of my every day practise in treating a wide range of problems, especially back pain and restriction, digestive complaints and reflux.

If you are interested in learning more about Visceral Manipulation there is more information on the Barral Institute website. I am always happy to answer any questions or to discuss whether treatment is right for you, so please just get in touch if you are in any doubt!


Had enough of headaches?

Yes, osteopaths treat headaches too!

All too often people think that osteopathy treats just bones or joints. We actually work into the body’s soft tissues too including muscles, ligaments, membranes etc. Many people do not know that osteopathy can help relieve headaches and that headaches are not always just something you have to live with.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are something I successfully treat all the time. As a past sufferer myself, I know how wearing they can be!

It may feel like a constant ache on both sides of your head, often accompanied by a feeling of pressure behind the eyes and a tightened feeling across the forehead or at the base of the skull.

Typical sufferers are desk workers, people who cope with a lot of stress, those with eye problems or those with postural dysfunction.

Most people have experienced this sort of thing before but when it becomes a regular part of your week or is interrupting your work/fun it is time to get some help!

How can they be treated?

I always find the best way to relieve a problem is to approach it from several angles at once. Before commencing treatment I will be looking at your general neck, shoulder and head position. I want to know if you’re squinting at your computer screen or if you’re a student who works in bed, if you have a terrible chair at work, if you find any time to relax during the week… the list goes on!

I would then assess the movement in your neck and the levels of muscle tension around the neck, back, shoulders, head and jaw. My aim is to help everything move smoothly, to mobilise restricted areas, to settle the body into a relaxed posture where it does not need to strain and create muscle tension to do normal daily tasks.

Typically between 3-4 treatments are recommended for tension headache sufferers but this also depends on the duration of symptoms (the longer they have gone on for, the longer it will take to change). Usually after the first treatment people start to feel significantly better, so why not book in and stop putting off feeling comfortable, there is no need to suffer!

If you aren’t sure what type of headache you are suffering from do just give me a call to discuss whether you may be suitable for treatment on 01273 208410