Manual Therapy Lecture and Demonstration
Presented at the Health Professionals
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Carl Nelson, DC
[Note: The following excerpts represent the lecture portion of Dr.
Nelson's presentation on manual therapy. A lengthy demonstration
followed. The full presentation is available from Meridian Institute
on video (VHS) and audio tape.]
Hippocrates wrote 2400 years ago. Probably about
10 to 15 percent was on what he called the "articulations." Good descriptions
of manipulating the spine. Good descriptions of setting broken bones and
setting dislocations. But also manipulation as well. And at that time,
400 BC, he described this as an ancient art and said, "No physician should
be unacquainted with the art of the rub." This information was largely
lost with the fall of the Roman Empire. It was passed from parent to child
through the centuries. Beginning to be re-explored in the 18th century
by the French, who really ignited the spirit and kept it alive.
These people called themselves "bonesetters," the
ones who passed it from parent to child, and were renowned for their ability
to set dislocated bones as well as do work on what came to be known later
on as osteopathic lesions or chiropractic subluxations. Or what we sometimes
think of as a "pinched nerve."
This began to be really seriously studied in this
country during about the middle of the last century. It was during this
time that Dr. Still began to look into it himself, ultimately developed
what he defined as the science of osteopathy, meaning disease that's related
to the position of the bones. Still was the master of what we have come
to think of as the osteous lesion or the subluxation or the pinched nerve.
He had skills in manipulation that far transcended any of his contemporaries.
And he had the savvy, from decades of medical practice, to understand that
there were certain other applications that could be done to the body other
than the replacement of misaligned segments, that would also be of benefit.
Certain types of touch, certain pressures, throughout the body here and
there that could be used with great efficacy.
One of the recommendations that Still learned early
on was that in difficult childbirth, where there was a lot of pain with
labor and delivery, that steady pressure on the delivery mother's pubic
hair in an upward direction would stop the pain. It would somehow anesthetize
this region and allow birth to proceed as normal.
The osteopaths had an apocryphal story later on that,
after his schools had been open for a few years, a gentleman who had been
seen hanging around, taking occasional courses at the college, moved to
Davenport, Iowa from Kirksville, Missouri, where the school was located,
and set up his own variety of what he had learned from Still. That was
Daniel David Palmer, the father of chiropractic. If this is the case, then
what Palmer took away from the early osteopathic training was a good knowledge
of manipulation and the setting of bones. But what he lost, and perhaps
never realized was going to become available, was the therapeutic application
of specific scientific, deliberate, intentional touch in order to effect
changes throughout the body itself. This had been discovered in about 1865
by the great French physiologist Claude Bernard, who in the process of
experimenting with animals, severed the nerve of the ear of a rabbit. Separating
the neurovascular bundle, he pinched the sympathetic nerve to the blood
supply of the ears to see what would happen. He discovered that the ear
reddened dramatically and almost immediately. From this, when word of this
came across the ocean, the osteopaths took this and realized it was a very
exciting discovery at the time that the sympathetic nervous system's main
function was that of motor function as well as contraction of the arterial
and capillary supply.
When the osteopaths discovered that they could use
this, they called this "inhibition." Which is kind of a strange, backwards
way of describing this, because osteopathic inhibition actually would increase
blood supply to an area. The reasoning was that, by Bernard pinching this
nerve, and inhibiting the vasoconstrictive fibers of the nervous system
to the blood supply of the ear, he inhibited the vasoconstriction. Therefore
This became a major focus of osteopaths later on
in the 1890s, and then on through the early years of this century. They
described this technique of inhibition. In the readings, Cayce would call
this stimulating for relaxation. He didn't use the term that I'm aware
of, osteopathic inhibition. But that's the meaning of the term that he
There was an opposing type of pressure that could
be exerted to the body as well, to specific segments or areas. They called
this stimulation, which of course would encourage the sympathetic nervous
system to be vasoconstrictive in nature. This is what Cayce was talking
about when he mentioned what I said yesterday, from reading 849-22, that
the osteopath can do three things: he could encourage blood supply, increase
blood supply to any given organ, tissue or area; or he could divert same
or decrease same; or he could make a structural correction.
This was the great crowning glory of the osteopaths.
And I don't think that anybody really has paid a whole lot of attention
to the extreme value of this. Of course it's been lost as the decades have
Current osteopathic manipulative techniques realize
that they used to do something of this nature, but they're not sure exactly
what it was. About the only things that remain are the larger drainage
techniques, the lymphatic pump. Which if you're familiar with I don't need
to demonstrate, and if you're curious about, I'll show you. Some of the
larger areas of drainage. These people could stimulate blood supply to
and from the body, any direction they wanted to. They could affect organ
function. And, as time passed, they became interested in what they called,
"setting up drainages." Which would alter the collection of blood in specific
organ systems. Draining the gall bladder was something that osteopaths
did quite regularly, and something that Cayce recommended.
Setting up drainages was something that Cayce was
real big on having accomplished. And drainages could be accomplished two
different ways. One, with the osteopathic general treatment, with the overall
movement of the body, "putting the body through its paces," as Cayce said.
Or, specific attention to specific organs and areas to encourage the flow
of circulation from, and then to, the organ itself. You can drain the spleen,
drain the liver, drain the gall bladder, drain the intestines. You can
drain the lymphatic system. Or, in certain cases as I'll talk about, you
can set up drainage throughout the entirety of the system.
The last thing that Cayce talked about, which I'm
not sure was dealt with that much by the osteopaths at that time, was something
called "coordination." Now coordination was one of the most important factors
to be dealt with in the functioning of the nervous system vis a vis the
Cayce materials. When there was incoordination in the nervous system, that
is to say, when the central nervous system and the sympathetic nervous
system were not functioning harmoniously, then this would set up a situation
where the sympathetic nervous system could kind of go crazy. And either
become hyperactive or hypoactive, leading to a lack of proper, fresh blood
flow to and from any given tissue or organ. It was Cayce's contention that
this lack of coordination was a major factor in the development or the
sustaining of processes of dis-ease or even disease.
So Cayce's focus was primarily on the general treatment,
which would accomplish a lot of different things in just a very simple
and straightforward manner. Then, setting up drainages as necessary. And
then finally, achieving some type of recoordination or reconnecting between
the central nervous system, or what Cayce called, the "cerebrospinal" system,
and the sympathetic nervous system.
He recommended a number of different ways to do this,
but, as I say, the general treatment was one that was mentioned most frequently
in this. The general treatment, as practiced by most osteopaths, was diagnostic
and therapeutic at the same time. The premise was that, if there were structural
lesions, osteopathic lesions, or what the chiropractors call subluxations,
that is to say, distortions or misalignments in the relation of the vertebral
segments to themselves, or, in other joints and in the extremities, then
by the process of this general treatment, which was a mobilization of the
entirety of the body tissues. A manipulation, mobilization, which was partially
massage, but more was almost a passive, yogic type of manipulation of the
body. This would allow the osteopath to diagnose the presence of any suspected
osteopathic lesions. And, if there were some present, they could be addressed
during the period of the general treatment. If they were not present, then
the general treatment could be carried on as a very invigorating and ultimately
relaxing and beneficial therapeutic activity.