Bowen Therapy is a gentle soft tissue manipulation technique.  (Photo: Contributed)
Bowen Therapy is a gentle soft tissue manipulation technique. (Photo: Contributed)

Bowen therapy to treat pain

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In last week’s column we discussed how scar tissue resulting from surgeries, traumas, and injuries causes pain by restricting motion in the skin, fascia, and muscles and interferes with healthy nervous system conduction. We discussed the use of Neural Therapy to break down scar tissue and thus decrease pain.

This week we will investigate the use of Bowen Therapy to treat nervous system imbalances that lead to muscle tension, decreased mobility, and pain. Unlike Prolotherapy and Neural Therapy, Bowen Therapy is not an injection technique. Many people with chronic pain chose Bowen Therapy because of the gentleness of the treatments.

Bowen Therapy is a gentle soft tissue manipulation technique developed in Australia by Thomas Bowen during the 1950’s and 60’s. During the 1970’s and 80’s the Bowen Therapy manoeuvres were further refined and the technique was introduced outside of Australia. Bowen Therapy began being practiced in Canada in the 1990’s and is now a very popular pain management technique practiced by many naturopathic physicians and other health care practitioners.

Bowen Therapy treats pain by in part by tapping into the connection between the peripheral nervous system and the muscles. Within the belly of a muscle is a special sensory organ called the golgi tendon. The golgi tendon is a hub of nervous system tissue that communicates with the muscle. It can tell the muscle to contract or relax. In many cases of pain there is some disturbance within the golgi tendon apparatus that initiates or perpetuates muscle tension. The gentle and specific Bowen Therapy manoeuvres help to reset the nervous system signals in the golgi tendon apparatus.

We discussed a few weeks ago that many cases of chronic muscle tension are actually due to joint instability which makes prolotherapy the most appropriate treatment. However, if chronic muscle tension is due to other factors like hyperactive reflexes or nervous system dysregulation Bowen Therapy may be the most appropriate treatment.

Muscles don’t have a mind of their own and only constrict when the nervous system communicates that message to them. There are many types of therapies that work to relax tight muscles but if the core problem is with the nervous system the muscles will be tight again within a few days after treatment. Bowen Therapy manoeuvres speak directly to the nervous system through the golgi tendon apparatus and are thus intended to correct this cause of muscle tension and pain.

When the nervous system ceases to send unnecessary signals to the muscles for constriction the muscles will relax and circulation can increase. The flow of nutrients to target tissues and the removal of waste through the lymphatic system improves. Poorly oxygenated tissues send out pain signals in order to improve blood flow to the area. Tissues with the build up of metabolic waste tend to be painful due to the high pressure created and the toxic local build up. Optimal healing only happens when the tissues are perfused with new blood rich in oxygen, white blood cells, and connective tissue cells. Bowen Therapy therefore can decrease pain and promote healing by improving circulation.

In next week’s column we will investigate the role of diet and nutrition in the treatment of chronic pain.

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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