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Chiropractic Treatment & GI Disorders

A recent review of the existing research into the effects of chiropractic therapy on gastrointestinal (GI) disorders published by the The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, found that chiropractic care is  sometimes effective as a supplementary treatment for those who suffer from various GI issues.

GI disorders are a significantly widespread cause of discomfort for many people all over the world, with irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation being the most prevalent. Another common GI disorder is gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) which causes an upsurge of gastric fluids from the stomach up into the throat where it causes heartburn and other uncomfortable symptoms. For some reason, perhaps increasing obesity rates or maybe even longer life spans, GERD is on the rise in world populations 

Chiropractic treatment for patients with GERD was studied in a clinical trial that utilized chiropractic treatment methods that included spinal manipulation and ischemic compression, a procedure that intentionally blocks the flow of blood in one region of the body so that when the blockage is released it floods the area with new, fresh blood for cleansing purposes.

The study looked at a group of 62 adult subjects who were divided into two groups. One group received spinal manipulation therapy and ischemic compression while the other was randomly divided into two smaller groups, with one receiving just spinal manipulation therapy and the other just ischemic compression. The conclusions showed that both methods of treatment where effective for relieving symptoms associated with GERD, but that ischemic compression is more effective alone than spinal manipulation therapy. 

Chiropractic care for irritable bowel syndrome was looked at in a 2007 study which gave adjustments to patients who suffered from this GI disorder in three different clinics. Adjustments were given based on perceived misalignments in the patient’s spines, otherwise known as subluxations. The first clinic exclusively used a set of adjustment techniques that included toggle recoil, Logan basic, and respiratory techniques. The second clinic used chiropractic techniques known as Activator. The third clinic used adjustments that fall under the craniosacral approach. While the patients in all three clinics experienced a significant amount of relief from their symptoms, in many cases the subluxations remained, so ultimately it is difficult to establish if there is a direct mechanical link between adjusting misalignments in the spine and relief from IB symptoms.

Overall, there has not yet been enough research into the relationship between GI disorders and chiropractic care. It is encouraging to see that there were no reports of GI disorder symptoms becoming worse from chiropractic treatment, however.

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