Chiropractic Helps Digestion?

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Usually, when one considers becoming a Chiropractic patient, they are seeking relief for typical conditions involving the neurologic, muscular, or skeletal system, such as neck pain, middle back pain between the shoulder blades and shoulder pain, lower back pain, headaches including migraines, and pain and/or numbness and tingling down the arms or legs, not digestion issues. While most Chiropractic offices do primarily treat those conditions very successfully, an interesting “added bonus” can and does occur while patients are under care for any one of those conditions. At various times in my career, some patients have noticed that their pre-existing digestive conditions have improved, whether it is some with acid reflux, some with irritable bowel symptoms, and others. In fact, in the past week, several have mentioned to us how pleased they are that they are not only feeling better with their spinal issues, but with respect to these other conditions as well.

But how can this happen? Can there be a relationship between decreased function in the spine, and issues with any of the organs in your body, including the digestive tract? Absolutely! Hippocrates, the Greek Physician who is the Father of Medicine, born in the 4th century BC (2,400 years ago) stated that we must “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease”. (By the way, all Medical Doctors take the “Hippocratic Oath” when they are sworn in as MD’s.) The spine in the Human Body consists of 24 vertebrae, the Sacrum and Tailbone, and 31 pairs of spinal nerves that are on each side of the spine that begin at the base of the skull. These nerve roots form spinal nerves that control not only the muscles, skin, and joints, but through another nerve system near the middle and lower back called the sympathetic chain ganglion sends and receives nerve impulses to and from the entire digestive tract, regulating digestive processes.

In addition, a nerve called the Vagus Nerve, which originates in the Medulla Oblongata, which is a part of the brain stem where a small portion exits the base of the skull, is surrounded by the first bone in the spine called the Atlas bone. The Vagus Nerve also plays a large part in regulating correct digestion. Now, if those spinal nerves are being irritated or pinched by spinal inflammation, calcium deposits, or restricted spinal motion in either the Atlas or the spinal vertebra in the middle or lower back, it is logical that those nerves would be less able to send correct signals to the digestive tract, and therefore could adversely affect normal digestion.

Written by Dr. Charles Donofrio, D.C.

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