Common Digestive Disorders and the Role of Chiropractic Treatment


Digestive disorders can be very painful, irritating and unpleasant. Apart from causing these undesirable effects, they can significantly interfere with the proper digestive function the rest of your body depend on to sustain their own particular functions. Digestion is vital to your body as the combustion of fuel in a car is to produce power to keep it moving.

The Most Common Digestive System Disorders

The following are the top digestive disorders based on statistics from institutions associated with digestive health:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – This is a chronic disease affecting 20 percent of Americans. In GERD, a condition called acid reflux, when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causes burning pain in your mid-chest. It usually occurs after meals or at night. Persistent heart burn, bad breath, nausea, tooth erosion, pain in your upper abdomen or chest, and difficulty with swallowing or breathing are symptoms of this disease. Most people with GERD avoid the foods or drink that trigger their symptoms. They can also take antacids or other medications against stomach acid production and anti-esophagus inflammation. More serious cases of GERD may need stronger medications or even surgery.

Gallstones – Hard deposits that form in your gallbladder, the small sac-shaped organ that stores bile for digestion, are called gallstones. These gallstones form from too much cholesterol or waste in your bile. 20 million Americans have gallstones. Gallstones can cause sharp pain in your abdomen, in the upper-right part. Medications can sometimes dissolve gallstones. The next step when that does not work is surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Celiac Disease – This condition is a serious sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein commonly found in wheat, barley or rye. Gluten intake will cause a part of your small intestine to be damaged. Close to one percent of Americans have celiac disease. It is estimated that 83 percent of those who have this disease are not aware that they have it. Symptoms in adults include anemia, bone loss, fatigue, depression and seizures. Some people may not have symptoms, however. Completely avoiding gluten is the only treatment for celiac disease.

Crohn’s Disease – It is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that commonly affects the small intestine. The condition is chronic and is also an autoimmune disease, which means your own immune system attacks cells in your body that it mistakes for foreign invaders. 0.7 million Americans are affected by Crohn’s disease. Abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, fever and weight loss are common symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Depending on these symptoms, pain relievers, immunosuppressant and surgery may be employed as treatment.

Ulcerative Colitis – This is another type of inflammatory bowel disease. It affects 0.7 million Americans. Its symptoms are similar to those of Crohn’s disease except that the part of the digestive tract that this condition affects is the large intestine or colon. Sores or ulcers develop in the colon’s lining from the immune system’s attack on food or other substances it mistakes for foreign invaders. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis include frequent bowel movements, pain with diarrhea, abdominal cramps or blood in the stool. Inflammation can be suppressed through medications. Surgery to remove the colon may be necessary in severe cases.

Irritable Bowel Movement – A common digestive condition affecting ten to 15 percent of the population, the causes of irritable bowel movement is unknown. The symptoms of this disorder are varied. It can go from having constipation or diarrhea and stomach pain at least a few times in a month for several months. The treatment focuses on avoiding common trigger foods, having a low fat diet rich in fiber and taking probiotics.

Hemorrhoids – This condition is so prevalent. 75 percent of Americans older than 45 years have hemorrhoids. These are inflammation of the blood vessels at the digestive tracts’ end. They can be itchy and painful and can cause bleeding that is discharged with the stool. They can be caused by chronic constipation or diarrhea, or straining during bowel movement. This condition can be treated by taking food high in fiber, drinking plenty of water or use of creams and suppositories. Severe cases sometime require surgery to remove hemorrhoids.

By being aware of the common disorders of the digestive systems, their causes and treatment, you can prevent them from occurring or you can consult with your health care provider if you feel you may have the symptoms for these digestive problems.

The Role of Chiropractic Treatment

Like with other functions in the body, the nervous system has significant control over the digestive function of the body. Additionally, there are several nerves that affect the stimulation, pace, and process of digestion such as the vagus nerve, sympathetic nerves, as well as the sacral parasympathetic nerve fibers. Misalignment and/or damage to any of these nerves may cause digestive problems and may even lead to compromise of the neurological function.

Spinal manipulation, as part of chiropractic treatment, can therefore help with maintaining the digestive function of the body and avoid digestive problems. Several studies have shown the significant effect of chiropractic adjustments in restoring the optimal function of the digestive system.