Bowen Technique and Peripheral Neuropathy

The Bowen Technique: Peripheral Neuropathy
by Janie Godfrey


Peripheral Neuropathy is a general term that is used to indicate functional disturbances and/or pathological changes in the peripheral nervous system. There are believed to be in excess of one hundred different causes of peripheral neuropathy and in many who are diagnosed with this, doctors have not been able to determine the underlying cause.

When the causes of the peripheral neuropathy are known, they include things such as diabetes mellitus, HIV, nutritional deficiency, and neurotoxic effects resulting from certain prescribed treatments or therapies.

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy often affect the arms and legs and depending on the type of neuropathy, a person may have muscle weakness, paralysis or chronic neuropathic pain which would include things like numbness, sensory disturbance, pins & needles, burning sensations etc.

In addition, people have reported other effects that include fatigue, memory retention deficit, mood swings, swallowing difficulty, acid reflux/generalised stomach complaints, and a general lack of co-ordination, position sense and manual dexterity.

Symptoms tend to vary depending upon the location and types of nerves affected but for many the reality of dealing with the condition not only necessitates a change in their own lifestyle but also has a knock on effect on the family.

Although The Bowen Technique is primarily thought of as a treatment for musculoskeletal problems, the readers of this column will know by now that the effects of Bowen treatment go way beyond just treating muscles in spasm and affect other levels of the body’s systems. Bowen also seems to open up neural pathways that have been closed down by a pain response and/or inflammation.

People frequently report that symptoms such as tingling or numbness diminish or disappear. Weakness in the limbs and/or loss of position sense are also diminished or resolved, at least for periods of time and even this respite can be of immense relief and reassurance.


Steve (late 30’s) is a very serious diabetic who needs to measure his blood sugar hourly. He was brought to a Bowen therapist one evening quite late. His head was resting on his left shoulder and his shoulder had come up to meet the head.

He was in great pain, and had been fora couple of weeks. He also had a severe headache, which felt like a “cap” on his head. He couldn’t be touched on any part of the left shoulder and scapula as the pain was too great.

He had had an industrial accident at work some time before and had been under the specialist and physio department and had made good progress. Then suddenly, for no particular reason, his head started to collapse to the state it was in when he arrived for Bowen treatment.

It took 11/2 hours to do the Bowen treatment that normally would take no more than 30 minutes. In fact, the area was in such pain that some of the moves could only be made by the therapist merely “drawing” them with his fingertip on the skin to create the gentle stimulation of a normal move. He also did some extra work on Steve’s head for the headache.

By the end of the treatment that night, the headache had reduced to 40% and the pain in the shoulder area had become concentrated on several specific points … i.e. a change which offered some encouragement to Steve, as he had arrived expecting nothing.
By his third treatment, Steve’s head was approximately 70% upright, and the shoulder down a bit. The headache had virtually gone and so had the nausea he had developed.

When he eventually saw the specialist again, he was 80% better. He was sent to Physio. There, she used a laser treatment on the specific areas of pain. This gave relief for 30 minutes and then the pain returned to 100% of his original, Day 1, pain. The following week, she put him on a Tens machine to kill the pain but his reaction was so great that within 4 hours he was hospitalised. He was in hospital for a week and came out a mess. He saw the Bowen therapist 5 days later and by this time he was calmer. He responded very quickly and the vomiting from which he had been suffering stopped and he recovered.

Steve continues to have Bowen treatment from time to time. However, he recently had a bout of severe sickness after having a scan at the hospital. Bowen, again, settled him quickly. It seems that Bowen is the only treatment that has a positive effect for Steve.


Contacts and References
For further information, List of Accredited Practitioners or full course prospectus contact:
European College of Bowen Studies
38 Podway, Frome, Somerset BA11 1QU Tel/Fax: 01373 461 873


Todays Therapist, Jan/Feb 2005
by Janie Godfrey