World Physiotherapy Day, which is celebrated on 8 September, has seen the launch of the first UCJCtalks session, a new format for master classes created by the University Camilo José Cela Physiotherapy Department and which kick off this academic year. The first session was on the vagus nerve and was given by Sandra Balaguer, specialist in paediatrics, obstetrics and lecturer of the master’s degree in Integrative Osteopathy at UCJC.
The vagus nerve is one of the most important therapeutic objectives in manual therapy. Currently, it is very common to find patients with digestive problems that are a cause of referred or somatic pain from injury and chronic pain that we suffer in the musculoskeletal system.
The two-way communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, the so-called “brain-gut axis”, is based on a complex system that includes the vagus nerve, but also the sympathetic nerve (for example, through the prevertebral nodes), the endocrine, immune, and humeral links, as well as the influence of the intestinal microbiota, in order to regulate gastrointestinal homoeostasis and connect the emotional and cognitive areas of the brain with intestinal functions.
The brain-gut axis is becoming increasingly important as a therapeutic target for gastrointestinal and psychiatric disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The intestine is an important control centre of the immune system and the vagus nerve has immunomodulatory properties.
As a result, this nerve plays an important role in the relationship between the intestine, the brain and inflammation. There are new treatment options to modulate the brain-gut axis, such as vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). These therapies have been shown to be beneficial in mood and anxiety disorders, but also in other conditions associated with increased inflammation.
With this conference, UCJC wants to emphasize the importance of the vagus nerve and its approach to fundamental osteopathic treatment to help restore the health of patients.