Neural Manipulation (NM) was developed in clinical practice by world-renowned French Osteopath and Physical Therapist Jean-Pierre Barral, in collaboration with fellow French Osteopath Alain Croibier.
NM examines the mechanical relationships between the osseous (bony) tissues of the cranium/spine and their softer nervous tissue counterparts, the dura mater (the membrane that forms the outer covering of the brain/spinal cord) and the cranial/spinal nerves. NM identifies and releases nerve restrictions while at the same time examines the effect that these restrictions have on other body regions, and in so doing, can help to further assess and treat the body in a more comprehensive (global) manner.
NM is performed by applying precise, gentle pressure to the nerve sheath (the protective and supportive connective tissue around the actual nerve), and then elongating it into a specific direction until it is able to move freely within its surroundings. The slight tension produced by this treatment process will get transferred through the nerve and the other local nerve tissue, and reach down to the nerve root, which is centrally located. Thus, the distal contact has a local and central effect, which is both mechanical and reflexogenic.
Manual therapy, as it applies to the treatment of nerves, follows the standard principles of mobility and function. So for optimal functioning, the nerves must be able to move freely within their surrounding environments. This freedom of movement is essential for:
Intraneural Blood Supply
Intraneural Nerve Supply
Local & Systemic Responsiveness
It is important to note that the release of restricted nerves can have a favorable effect on the functioning of the corresponding viscera (organs and vessels). Nerves are involved in every visceral function, so without proper neural control some of the normal visceral activities cannot be maintained. In actuality, since the nerves are involved in all bodily function, this truth can be applied to every physiological system of the body, including the muscle and skeletal systems.
Nerve restrictions can come from many sources, which include, but are not limited to:
Abnormal Movement Patterns
Repetitive Mechanical Irritations
With neural interferences in any given body region, the associated spinal cord and/or brain structures can also become irritated. Thus, specific peripheral nerve treatments can positively influence these so-called facilitated pathways and the corresponding central nervous system tissues, thereby promoting healthy neural activity in a more comprehensive manner.
Generally speaking, manual therapy treatments are effective due to the fact that they help to correct distorted mechanical relationships in the body that are creating noxious stimuli that are being transmitted from the peripheral nervous tissues to the central nervous tissues. In turn, this distorted process will also elicit negative responses transmitting from the central nervous tissues out to the peripheral nervous tissues. Until this phenomenon is appropriately treated, it will continue on in a cyclical pattern that will most likely intensify, gradually involving more structures, which will then lead to increased bodily dysfunction and furthermore, additional symptoms.