Greetings All and Happy Holidays

One of you asked in an email:

“Any chance you can address your take on Pleurisy? (especially not virally caused) And, what a treatment may look like….It’s really frustrating doing research when there’s all this Western medicine point of view – I was trying to look at pleurisy as not the problem, but of course, can’t find any info going down that route.”

Excellent question that leads to many interesting points for our consideration.

This is from The A.D.A.M. Medical Dictionary, and is common to the Western medical viewpoint:

Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest (the pleura) that leads to chest pain (usually sharp) when you take a breath or cough.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Pleurisy may develop when you have lung inflammation due to infections such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. This inflammation also causes the sharp chest pain of pleurisy.


The main symptom of pleurisy is pain in the chest. This pain often occurs when you take a deep breath in or out, or cough. Some people feel the pain in the shoulder.

Deep breathing, coughing, and chest movement makes the pain worse.

Pleurisy can cause fluid to collect inside the chest cavity.

When you have pleurisy, the normally smooth surfaces lining the lung (the pleura) become rough. They rub together with each breath, and may produce a rough, grating sound called a “friction rub.” 

Treatment depends on what is causing the pleurisy. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Surgery may be needed to drain infected fluid from the lungs.

Viral infections normally run their course without medications. Patients often can control the pain of pleurisy with acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

When I read something like the above, I’m looking for: key ideas that suggest the cause, what I’m going to begin treatment with, and how I’m going to proceed at the beginning.

The number one key idea from the dictionary is that pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleural membrane. So I immediately know that the pleural membrane is ‘pissed off’. It’s angry because there are unbalanced forces operating in the body, and their most noticeable current effect is to congest the pleural membrane, and so annoy the hell out of it. And it’s letting everyone know.

Check out the effect in terms of connective tissue dynamics. “…normally smooth surfaces (of the pleura) become rough…” We know what makes smooth connective tissue rough – rhymes with ‘fresher’, and of course it’s PRESSURE. I’ll be looking to solve where that’s coming from in terms of dynamic tensegrity.

The first piece, for me, would probably be to see if I can get the area to drain; open up the lymphatics. I would put the client on the table in their most comfortable position – pillow them up, whatever. I’ll start with the SI joints, look at how forces are feeding into Occiput/C1/C2, don’t overlook rotator cuff scar tissue, thoroughly go through SCM, temporalis and masseter, psoas/iliacus/diaphragm, float the rib cage and head, float anything else that occurs to me.

There are points at the spaces between the ribs next to the sternum called Chapman’s Reflexes, and they are claimed to be neuro-lymphatic reflexes, meaning they narrow the lumen of the lymphatic vessels when fired up. I’ve gotten good results using them. The ones for the lungs will be around the upper sternal area, bilateral. They should be ‘burners’ when you press on them, like very active trigger points. You can work them like trigger points, and/or do small local myofascial stretches to them, anything to bring down their sensitivity. Also see what you can do with pec minor, seratus, everything around the lungs. They will be big players, you can count on it.

Now here’s a key technique concept as I see it: the work can be tricky, because if the pleurisy is fired up, you don’t want to cause pain while addressing these things, and that may be difficult. Do your best to avoid a protective response from the client.

An overall thing you’re looking to get is a parasympathetic response from them. Pay close attention: if they tighten and protect in response to what you’re doing, immediately back off and look for another way ‘in’. Work gently. It’s key that the client can rely on you not to hurt them (or at least not to sustain any work that does), that you won’t further annoy the pleural membrane.

With pleurisy, as with anything connected in any way to the immune system, the sympathetic response is the ‘enemy’; the sympathetic response is certainly part of the true cause, and very well may be the ultimate cause.

In terms of whether it’s viral or bacterial, for us I don’t think that’s much of a factor. The more successful I am in increasing a parasympathetic response, the stronger the immune system becomes, helping the client in either case.

The goal is to increase circulation around the pleural membrane. To repeat, pleurisy is an inflammation, and ‘inflammation’ means ‘pissed off’. If you can figure out what’s pissing the area off, you’ll increase the circulation. This should get the condition to at least improve. Let me know if you have any questions on dealing with the Chapman’s Reflexes, or anything else, and I’ll go into greater detail. Later, Friends

3 comments on “Pleurisy

  1. I have had pleurisy for 21 months. Been to every medical specialist, had every test known to western medicine. I am completely healthy- except for this unrelenting pain. I am sick of being on morphine every four hours- everything has suffered- lost my job, all my savings, and some days can not even get out of bed. I just got my first set of myofascial balls after research pointed me to the great chance my pain could be stemming from my scalenes. Can you help me with a technique? I would really appreciate it. Thank you, and be well.

    • I would start using the balls at the base of my skull, laying face up on a comfortable, soft carpet. The idea is to relax the neck muscles, so I’d go easy with movements and pressure I could relax into. I’d try the same idea on my low back and sacrum.

  2. Brenda, did this work for you? I am in the same situation but thought I had addressed the pleurisy but the pain still exists so maybe I should revist this.

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