Can A Chiropractor Help With Acid Reflux (GERD)?
What can a chiropractor do for GERD?
If you’ve dealt with uncomfortable burning pain in your chest, especially after eating, then you already know what acid reflux is. It’s an extremely common condition that’s a chronic problem for over 60 million Americans.
Acid reflux occurs when acid in the stomach travels back up into the esophagus (the muscular tube that transports food from your mouth to your gut), resulting in a painful burning sensation. The majority of people will experience it at some point in their lives, but if it keeps reoccurring we call it gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD for short.
Why do I have heartburn?
Your stomach uses something called gastric acid to digest proteins. It mainly consists of hydrochloric acid, a potent chemical produced by the cells lining the stomach and your gastric glands.
As its name suggests, it can burn, so your body keeps it encased within your stomach walls that are designed to withstand its extreme acidity. Sometimes this system fails, and the acid is pushed up through your diaphragm (the flat muscle at the bottom of your ribcage that controls breathing), and into your esophagus.
If left untreated, GERD can put you at risk for other, more serious health issues. Chronic inflammation and damage to the tissues that line the esophagus can lead to ulcers and a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can cause difficulty swallowing and even esophageal cancer.
Heartburn medication doesn’t fix GERD
Antacids, H-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors can help manage symptoms by reducing the production of acid in your stomach. But long-term use of these medications is associated with an increased risk of kidney disease, osteoporosis, magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiency, and C-diff infection. A 2016 study also pointed to a potential link between PPI use and a higher likelihood of dementia.
Moreover, these medicines aren’t actually fixing the problem.
Contrary to popular belief, acid reflux is not caused by too much stomach acid. For those with GERD, the root issue actually lies in the mechanics of your body allowing this acid to end up in the wrong place.
So what causes acid reflux?
Where your esophagus meets your stomach there’s a special muscular valve called the esophageal sphincter that’s designed to allow one-way flow from your mouth to your stomach. It opens to allow food to pass into your stomach when you eat, but for the rest of the time, it should remain tightly shut so the contents of your stomach don’t pop back up.
If this valve fails to do its job (whether temporarily or permanently), then your stomach acid can be regurgitated back up into your esophagus. In many cases, this results when the upper portion of the stomach actually pushes up through the opening in the diaphragm, creating what’s called a hiatal hernia and affecting this valve’s ability to close completely.
While it can happen to anyone, those who are obese, have connective tissue disorders (such as scleroderma), or are pregnant (particularly in the later stages when the baby begins to push upwards onto the stomach) are more likely to experience a hiatal hernia.
The Hiatal Hernia Adjustment
As with most conditions, the severity of hiatal hernias can range from mild to severe. Severe conditions may require surgical interventions (fundoplication or LINX device implantation), but for mild and moderate conditions a manual procedure to physically pull the stomach down below the diaphragm can be incredibly helpful.
At Ascent Chiropractic, we perform this soft-tissue manipulation technique while the patient is lying face-up on a treatment table. Often this procedure brings immediate relief, though in some cases a series of manipulations over several appointments are required to retrain the soft tissues holding the stomach in place and achieve lasting results.
While there may be some mild discomfort associated with a hiatal hernia technique maneuver (I’ll admit that it’s not anyone’s favorite part of their appointment), it’s almost always worth it considering the often immediate relief. Most patients report being able to take a deeper breath and feeling the heartburn pressure and pain subside before they even get off the table!
The Ascent Chiropractic Difference
Suffering from heartburn, acid reflux, or chest pain after eating? A simple, natural, and drug-free maneuver may be all that’s needed to correct a hiatal hernia and eliminate the discomfort. Ready to get started? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.