Chiropractic and Gut Health
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Can Chiropractic Treatment Improve Your Digestive Health?
Chiropractic treatment doesn't just ease aches and pains in your joints and muscles. The therapy may also offer an effective treatment option if you have frequent stomachaches, reflux, constipation, and other gastrointestinal conditions.
How Chiropractic Treats the Source of Your Gut Problems
Your nervous system controls every part of your body, including your gastrointestinal system. A collection of nerves branches out from the lower part of your spinal cord and travels to your stomach and intestines. Nerves carry messages from one part of the body to another and play an essential role in digestion, movement of food through the gastrointestinal system, absorption of nutrients and minerals, and removal of waste products via the intestines.
Misalignments of your vertebrae, known as "subluxations," interfere with the way nerves function. When the vertebrae aren't properly aligned, bones or spinal discs can press against nerves, pinching or compressing them. This can cause the organs to malfunction, resulting in heartburn, gas, cramping, diarrhea, constipation or other symptoms. Muscle tension in your abdomen can also contribute to digestive problems, whether it occurs due to stress or as a result of sitting for hours every day.
Chiropractic treatment is aimed at relieving pressure on your nerves, joints, and muscles by realigning the vertebrae in your spine. Spinal manipulation or mobilization are two techniques that are commonly used to improve the alignment of your spinal column. Quick thrusts realign vertebrae during spinal manipulation, while slower, gentler movements are used during mobilization. Massage and other therapeutic techniques may also be part of your treatment plan.
Chiropractic Care Is a Good Option for GERD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Other Digestive Conditions
Digestive problems are particularly common in the U.S. and affect 60 to 70 million people, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases' Digestive Disease Statistics for the United States report.
Twenty million people experience reflux, a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), at least once a week, the report notes. GERD affects both children and adults and can cause heartburn, chest pain, sore throat, nausea, belching, and difficulty swallowing. Reflux occurs when stomach acids travel out of the stomach and into the esophagus.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a type of medication often used to treat GERD symptoms. The medication works by reducing acid production in the stomach. Unfortunately, PPIs can cause unpleasant side effects including diarrhea, constipation, headaches, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. You may also be more likely to fracture a bone if you fall because PPIs may interfere with your body's absorption of calcium.
Even more concerning is the potential long-term effects on your stomach, heart, and kidneys. A recent study conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System uncovered a link between PPI use and chronic kidney disease, stomach cancer, and fatal cases of cardiovascular disease.
Reflux and other GERD symptoms can occur if nerves that serve the stomach and esophagus malfunction and irritate these organs. Chiropractic treatment relieves irritation and restores normal functioning.
Chiropractic care can also help you manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In a Chinese study, IBS patients who received spinal manipulation treatment five times experienced a significant reduction in the severity and frequency of their symptoms.
Chiropractic treatment is an excellent choice no matter what type of gastrointestinal issue you have. It may reduce flare-ups of Crohn's disease, help relieve chronic constipation, decrease abdominal pain and bloating, and even ease colic in infants.
Don't let digestive issues affect your quality of life. Chiropractic treatment can help you control your symptoms and may even allow you to reduce your dependence on medications. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Digestive Disease Statistics for the United States
Washington University School of Medicine: Heartburn Drugs Linked to Fatal Heart and Kidney Disease, Stomach Cancer, 5/30/19
NCBI: Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treated by Traditional Chinese Orthopedic Manipulation, 12/12
The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association: What Effect Does Chiropractic Treatment Have on Gastrointestinal GI Disorders: A Narrative Review of the Literature, 6/15