Close to 700,000 Americans have their gallbladder removed each year in the US. The goal of this surgery is to alleviate digestive distress, chronic abdominal and referred pain patterns, and prevent dangerous lodging of gallstones in the common bile duct. In many instances, this surgery is an absolute and cannot be avoided.
Postcholecystectomy syndrome (Post-gallbladder removal syndrome) is defined as a complex of diverse symptoms consisting of:
- Gallbladder or non-gallbladder-like abdominal pains
- Gastrointestinal disorders and jaundice
- Bloating, gas, and diarrhea
- And Cholangitis (infection of the bile ducts of the liver)
The most common cause of this syndrome is bile stones that were likely present at the time of surgery, or developed after the surgery as a result of bile stagnation. Stagnant bile is usually the reason stones form in the gallbladder in the first place. As bile is made in the liver, it is important to address why you are producing sluggish, thick bile in the first place. This can be addressed both nutritionally with herbal remedies as well as changes in diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3473449/ (1)
However, anytime the body sustains injury to the tissues, scar tissue is laid down to stabilize and patch up the area. Scar tissue is much more restrictive and less elastic than our original tissues. Scar tissue causes restrictions that can interfere with the flow of bile into the small intestine, prevent proper circulation to the area, restrict surrounding nerves, adhere organs to one another, and prevent their natural motion. In severe cases, adherence of the small and large intestine have been reported, leading to serious complications like obstructions of the intestines. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2083937 (2)
What can be done for this?
One option is visceral manipulation. Visceral manipulation is a gentle, very specific manual therapy for your internal organs. Your organs are in perpetual motion. This is obvious with your lungs and heart. You can feel every breath and heartbeat if you tune in to it. The rest of your organs also have their own movement patterns, vital to optimal function. These movements are transmitted through fascia to other structures of the body. The gallbladder is housed just under the liver and has attachments directly to the liver, small intestine, the transverse colon, and the mid to lower right ribs.
Our organs are suspended in our abdomen by a complex system of ligaments, muscles and fascia. These suspensory systems have connections from head to toe. For example, your vagus and phrenic nerves extend from your neck to your gallbladder. Adhesions in this area can actually lead to neck pain. You have a ligament called the falciform ligament that extends from the liver and has attachments to the abdominal wall and the urinary bladder. Meaning adverse symptoms of these adhesions don’t necessarily have to be at the site of the injury. In studies of this topic psychosomatic disorders are referenced, as they cannot explain the symptoms these patients are experiencing. (1) It could be very possible that these patients are experiencing symptoms of visceral adhesions distant to the injury site.
What visceral manipulation cannot do is remove scar tissue. VM is used to restore motion and sliding surfaces between organs. This therapy can also stimulate the body’s natural tissue remodelling mechanisms in favor of more elastic tissue. In severe cases, however, surgery to remove the scar tissue may be indicated.