This treatment approach recognises that internal organs and surrounding tissues are very connected to the rest of your body, mechanically through ligaments and connective tissue, chemically (blood and nutrients) and through the nervous system.
The visceral approach considers the link between internal organs and their connective tissues and the musculoskeletal system and aims to improve the movements between internal organs in order to treat back, neck and other joint problems. Connection between the viscera and musculo-skeletal system can be through proximity, fascial connection, common nerve supply, drainage of blood or lymph or due to pathology of the organ.
Visceral manipulation techniques may be incorporated if needed by osteopaths to treat joint problems in some cases.
Here is an example of a situation where visceral techniques may be usefull: A patient has pain in one knee despite their knee moving well. In this case the cause of pain may be due to restriction in the descending colon, or the kidney as both of these organs can affect nerves that innervate the knee causing pain in the knee capsule. Gentle articulation of the organ and its fascial attachments can bring relief from pain.
Osteopaths use gentle listening skills with the hand to locate areas of greater tension in the viscera and fascial system. this helps guide them in treating using the visceral approach.
Visceral manipulation may improve motility of the organs, and secretion of fluids improving functions such as digestion and may help conditions such as reflux, pelvic pain and headaches.