Back in July, I developed some odd neck symptoms. My throat felt swollen, like my uvula was resting on my tongue. I was unable to breathe through my nose while laying supine. Initially, I attributed the sensation to a reaction to an intense dry heat in the summer of Arizona (frequently 110-115 deg) or an allergy. I took some allergy medication for a couple weeks but noticed little change. Of course, at this point I was becoming concerned. The feeling of a lump in the throat can be associated with significant medical conditions, like thyroid disorders or cervical instability. I was disappointed that I had no change with repeated motions for my neck or back. What kept me calm is that I had no other symptoms. My lymph nodes felt normal, it didn't hurt when I swallowed and my symptoms were intermittent. I actually felt completely normal after working out or taking a hot shower, and doing some DNF strengthening exercises gave temporary relief.
Given the unusual symptom and lack of other significant medical signs, I considered being treated by a visceral therapist. Fortunately, my wife does visceral manipulation, so I had her treat me sometime in August. She did a parietal-cecal ligament release, thermal scar release, cecum motility, and addressed some intestinal sphincter dysfunction. The next day I was 80% better. At this point, I could lie supine and breathe through my nose without any issue, however I still felt some pressure in my throat (still no other signs). Towards the end of September I had a treatment focused on my neural mobility both in my neck and around my sacrum that I would say got me to 90% improved. I also noticed, my neural tension in my L leg was significantly improved. I could also perform an overhead squat better than I had in years. This past weekend, I had my wife perform a visceral treatment on me for the 2nd time. This time her treatment focused on a liver lift and liver motility. Within a couple days I can now say I feel 99% improved with the remaining sensation being attributed to some neural restrictions in my neck per my wife. In a week or two, I'll have my wife address the final restriction in my neck.
While the exact reason for the development of these symptoms isn't clear, my wife and her mentor believe it can be attributed to multiple things throughout my life: being born with my umbilical cord around my neck, hx of MVA, potential bad cervical treatment years ago, etc. I'm not sure I know which factors were most important, but what I do know is that the treatment was successful. While I was undergoing this management, I couldn't help but think about how important this kind of treatment is. The standard individual likely would have ended up going to an ENT physician, had multiple diagnostic tests done, and even potentially had exploratory surgery. Not only was a lot of money saved, but so was the potential stress and time. I know that craniosacral and visceral therapists frequently get mocked (especially from orthopaedic therapists) for having unusual care, but I believe there is a severe lack of understanding by general physical therapists. This type of treatment should not be looked down upon, but instead embraced by the profession as the implications could be incredible.
It is hard to tell when visceral therapy may be playing a role in our patients, but I've been told that there may be a visceral involvement in as many as 80% of the standard orthopaedic cases. To help identify patients that may benefit from this treatment style, look for a post next week on how to screen for visceral involvement.
-Dr. Chris Fox, PT, DPT, OCS