While you may not initially think of a chiropractor for digestive issues, a chiropractor can help you understand the relationship between back pain and digestion. Digestive issues and lower back pain commonly go hand in hand, and a chiropractor can provide innovative treatments to improve digestive health. Learn about the most common gut problems and how a chiropractor can help with certain digestive problems.

Common Digestive Issues

Digestive issues affect many Americans. Based on responses from the National Gastrointestinal (GI) survey, 61% of respondents reported at least one gastrointestinal symptom within a week. Understanding your symptoms and what digestive issues you may be experiencing is the first step to finding the proper treatment.

Digestive issues can cause various uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Some of the most common digestive issues include:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive complication that occurs in the large intestine. It is classified as a chronic digestive condition that requires long-term management to reduce the severity of symptoms. Common IBS symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Approximately 25 to 45 million Americans have IBS, and about 66% of IBS sufferers are female. While IBS affects millions of people each year, only a percentage of these people experience noticeable or severe symptoms.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a condition in which stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, which connects the stomach to the mouth. This backwash is called acid reflux, which can severely irritate the esophageal lining. Research suggests 20% of people in the United States have GERD.

While many people may experience occasional acid reflux, GERD can cause mild acid reflux a minimum of twice a week or moderate to severe acid reflux that happens once a week or more. GERD can lead to additional complications, including esophageal narrowing, esophageal sores or even precancerous esophageal changes.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, also known as gluten sensitivity or celiac sprue, is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in rye, barley and wheat. For those with celiac disease, eating gluten causes an immune response within the small intestine that irritates and damages the intestinal lining, preventing the body from absorbing the nutrients it needs.

Research finds approximately two million Americans have celiac disease. Damage to the small intestine may cause unexpected weight loss, anemia, fatigue, bloating and diarrhea. All of these symptoms can lead to potentially serious complications. The only way someone can manage their celiac disease is with a gluten-free diet.

While celiac disease negatively impacts anyone’s health, it can be particularly problematic for children. If children experience malabsorption related to celiac disease, their physical development and growth may also be affected.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) resulting in inflammation within the digestive tract. Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include malnutrition, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation in various areas of the digestive tract and can spread deeper into the bowels. Approximately 3.1 million American adults have been diagnosed with IBD, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe, with symptoms developing gradually. In some cases, Crohn’s disease symptoms may develop without warning and appear suddenly, typically in more severe cases. Some people may experience long periods without Crohn’s disease, known as remission.

The Connection Between Your Nervous System and Digestive System

Your spinal health and central nervous system are fundamental to gut health. While you may not initially question how a chiropractor can improve joint mobility, you might be surprised to learn they may also help improve certain gastrointestinal issues. A healthy digestive system needs a healthy spine, and a chiropractor can adjust the spine and body for realignment.

The spinal nerves can impact digestion and overall gut health because the nervous system and digestive system are connected. A chiropractor can gently manipulate the body and correct subluxations, which are slight misalignments of the spinal vertebrae.

Chiropractors can help solve gut issues by improving spinal health and stimulating the nervous system. One way to understand the connection between the nervous system and the digestive tract is to think that the central nervous system controls all of the body’s functions.

chiropractor for digestive problems performing spinal adjustments

How Can Chiropractic Treatment Help Stomach Pains

Chiropractors can help acid reflux and constipation by realigning the spine and promoting a healthy central nervous system. When chiropractors improve spinal health and treat the central nervous system, they can indirectly enhance various bodily functions, including gastrointestinal functions.

It is important to note a chiropractor doesn’t treat your digestive tract directly. Instead, a chiropractor focuses on the spine and central nervous system when making adjustments. Proper spine alignment is key to a healthy central nervous system and, in turn, the gastrointestinal tract.

A chiropractor can manipulate the spine, detecting and correcting subluxations using controlled, sudden movements to enhance spinal mobility and improve the central nervous system’s overall functioning. Chiropractors can improve digestive health because the spine and central nervous system are connected to the digestive tract.

Digestive conditions that a chiropractic adjustment can help alleviate include:

  • IBS: One potential cause of IBS is an abnormality in the nervous system, causing greater discomfort when your digestive system produces stool or gas. If the central nervous system is not functioning at its best, it may send poorly coordinated signals between the brain to the digestive tract, potentially leading to IBS and IBS-related symptoms.
  • GERD: While mild GERD may be improved with lifestyle changes or over-the-counter medicine, a chiropractic stomach adjustment may improve certain symptoms.
  • Constipation: Ganglion cells, nerve cells located in the intestines, control the muscles that help push stool through the intestines and colon. These cells connect to the celiac ganglion, which connects to the spinal cord. A chiropractic stomach adjustment can help relieve pressure on these nerve roots, which might cause constipation.

The lumbar and thoracic spine help regulate how fast your digestive system processes and breaks down food. Health issues negatively affecting these spinal areas can also negatively impact your digestive health. Many people may experience lower back pain in addition to digestive complications.

Research finds a strong association between gastrointestinal symptoms and back pain, especially in women. Fortunately, chiropractic treatment for spinal discomfort and the digestive tract may improve these symptoms.

What Will Chiropractic Treatment Look Like?

Chiropractic treatment is a simple spinal manipulation or adjustment. A chiropractor will look for spinal misalignments within the vertebrae and adjust the spine for proper alignment using their hands. You may feel or hear a popping sensation during chiropractic treatment as the chiropractor corrects a misalignment.

In most cases, there will be very little to no discomfort at all during a spinal adjustment, as the chiropractor will ensure your comfort and safety during the adjustment. Generally, patients often experience a feeling of relief after a pop from a realignment.

Schedule an Appointment with a Chiropractor for Digestive Problems

At Thrive Chiropractic Group, our goal is to help every person take control of their health by improving the cause of headaches, digestive issues, numbness and pain at their source. Our team of experts has been serving the Oklahoma City area for more than 14 years.

We are proud to offer innovative chiropractic services, including services for expecting motherschildrenseniors and even those who have been in an auto accident. Our team also offers effective adjustments for athletesheadachesneck pain and sciatica.

Schedule an appointment with us online today for an assessment and chiropractic stomach adjustment to ease your digestive issues.

chiropractor performing an upper back adjustment