Everyone at one time or another has experienced the discomfort of bloating, gas, irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhea and other digestive disorders, and over $80 billion is spent every year on controlling these symptoms. In some disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, patients often require recurring hospitalization and even surgery. Traditionally, triggers have been thought to be stress, diet or infection, but new research has shown that digestive problems have a strong neurological component.
At Realief Chiropractic, one common link we see in patients who deal with digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, IBS and Crohn’s is that the structures in the thoracolumbar spine are often compromised. Specifically, spinal misalignments are often present that affect the nervous system’s communication with the organs, glands and tissues of the digestive system.
It’s easy to see why patients with all kinds of digestive and intestinal disorders respond well to adjustments performed by a chiropractor. Every process performed in your body is monitored and controlled by the central nervous system and the network of nerves exiting the spine, and removing the pressure on these nerves caused by spinal misalignments allows for normal transmission of messages to your digestive system.
If you are having digestive issues, you may not think to call chiropractor first, but a growing body of research suggests that you should.
What The Research Says
A 2012 study evaluated the clinical effect of spinal manipulation (adjustments) in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) compared with medication. Researchers randomly divided two hundred ten IBS patients into spinal manipulation and medication groups. All patients in the spinal manipulation group received a total of five treatments. Symptoms were evaluated based on bowel symptom scale scores before and after treatment to evaluate the effects of treatment, and to statistically compare both groups.
Post-treatment results showed that of the spinal manipulation treatment group, 92 cases had excellent results, 10 cases had good results, 3 cases had fair results, and 0 cases had poor results. There were no adverse side effects from treatment.
In comparison, in the group receiving medication, 30 cases had excellent results, 41 cases had good results, 12 cases had fair results, and 22 cases had poor results.
The researchers concluded that displacement of vertebra in the thoracolumbar spine appears to negatively effect the function of the digestive system. Correcting this misalignment and resolving the abnormal stimuli caused by pressure exerted on the nervous system is, according to the authors of the study, “an effective treatment for IBS”.
Earlier case studies have also shown that treatment by a chiropractor is an effective method for relieving constipation in pediatric patients.
Chiropractic Help For Crohn’s Disease
In another study evaluating the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for patients with Crohn’s disease, 70% of the patients who had battled with chronic digestive problems showed long-term and stable remission of their symptoms without medication after 12 weeks of regular chiropractic care.
The researchers concluded that “chronic nerve compression secondary to vertebral subluxation in the thoracic and lumbar regions had a significant effect on the immune function of these allergy and Crohn’s disease patients.” Furthermore, “this nerve compression leads to a chronic functional disorder having a significant effect on digestion, absorption of nutrients and liquids, conveyance of food as well as various other functions of the digestive tract extending to excretion.”
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this: chiropractic care should be strongly considered as a complementary treatment to conventional medical methods of improving bowel function. The health of the spine and nervous system needs be examined along with diet and nutritional habits.