You sleep on a ramp made of pillows. You gag down chalky pink potions. You gulp purple pills or drinks that fizzle. Your meals taste blander than sand! Cold lips, knotted guts and searing pain are your constant companions. Suffering with heartburn, regurgitation and other symptoms associated with stomach irregularities has become the daily experience of thousands. Help may be just around the corner - and surprisingly, from the hands of a doctor of chiropractic!
The guts of this article will be based on my own real-life experience of having helped patients overcome stomach problems that resulted in pain and heartburn. Many of my patients had been diagnosed previously with gastritis, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or hiatal hernias. In fact, so many of my new patients report symptoms of digestive distress that I feel writing this article is imperative. I hope that it will encourage more patients and physicians to consider the approach outlined below. This type of care, currently performed by a small number of chiropractors, is safe and produces relatively quick results. Relief may be felt immediately or within days. Of course, a doctor of chiropractic respects and encourages medical screening for underlying diseases that may require urgent interventions or hospitalization.
The causes of stomach distress can run from irritating foods or an overactive nerve supply to emotional stress and beyond. Perhaps the most unknown and undetected source is positional, or how the stomach is aligned within your body.
We are usually not aware of most of our internal organs. Nobody wakes up and complains, “Ugh, I slept wrong. My pancreas is killing me!” Our stomach is special. It makes its presence known daily. It talks, growls and provides a multitude of sensations that can resist the greatest of distractions from daily work or play. It is an impressive muscular bag of acidic juices and enzymes that digests food! Despite its communication prowess, the stomach may lose its normal position and alignment without even a tiny burp.The stomach hangs like a bat underneath the dome-shaped respiratory muscle called the diaphragm (which divides the thoracic cavity, containing the lungs and heart, from the abdomen). We receive food and drink through the lips and over the tongue… flowing from our mouth, and our meal or beverage then occupies the area called the pharynx. The journey continues down the long tube of the esophagus, passes through the muscular wall of the diaphragm, and terminates in the stomach. The stomach, with is special lining, resists the corrosive digestive fluids like Superman’s skin repels bullets. The esophagus is more like Lois Lane and lacks protection from caustic substances! When the sphincter muscle comes to the rescue and properly closes the opening in the upper stomach, the esophagus is protected. As a person performs his or her daily motions, the movements are internal as well as external. Even from held postures and/or big meals, the stomach is prone to lose its proper positioning and can be driven into the ceiling of the abdomen. Think of the top guy in a phone booth filling with 10 more hopeful brothers rushing for their favorite fraternity! Ouch! When the pressure is too great, the stomach remains misaligned, and the sphincter fails to close. This allows irritating juices to regurgitate into the esophagus. Sometimes the change in position does not cause abnormal sphincter control and refluxing, but still alters the normal functioning of the stomach. This may cause digestive disturbances and/or generalized pain. How can malposition of the stomach be detected? Gentle palpation of the stomach over the abdomen and the observation of several responses in the body will reveal a positional problem. There is no need for expensive or uncomfortable evaluations, such as x-rays after swallowing a liquid contrast, MRI, endoscopy or blood tests.
Once the misalignment is determined, the correction is made. The stomach is gently repositioned by using the hands or a percussive instrument (containing a two to three inch round foam pad that vibrates at high frequencies- creating a feeling similar to massage units). Both techniques are comfortable, quick and are performed over clothing. A post-test immediately shows that a correction was made.
How long does it last? It varies among people. Some have about 3-5 sessions, and the problem is not seen again. Others require continued visits once or twice each month to remain healthy and medication-free. It depends on the forces that compress and twist the abdominal organs on a regular basis. At times, stress reduction and/or therapeutic nutritional supplementation are necessary to heal the damage that was created over time.
Is it safe, and what if a really bad underlying problem exists? It is as safe as getting a massage and feels similar. Chiropractic training is primary, meaning it includes the ability to identify signs and symptoms that require referral to other health care professionals.
Does your gut feeling say to look beyond the stomach as a bag of chemical reactions and to see farther than the temporary relief offered by medications? Are you ready to venture into the unexpected and try a fresh approach? By correcting stomach alignment within the abdomen, balance can be restored! Fires can be extinguished, and knots untied. You can feel good again! By asking your doctor of chiropractic if he or she works with stomach repositioning, you can once again order from a menu like Superman does and only worry about avoiding foods containing kryptonite!