Hiatus Hernia and Indigestion

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (sometimes referred to as GERD or GORD) is a condition that affects up to 40% of people in the United States and 10-15 % of people in Australia. Its prevalence is rising over time, with authorities blaming obesity as a likely contributing factor. Other risk factors are reported as being advancing age, male gender, Caucasian ethnicity and smoking.

The symptoms of GERD are generally indigestion and heartburn. Whilst there may be other causes of these symptoms, this article will focus on the Hiatus Hernia as a cause.

Most people with this condition will take some type of over the counter medication like Mylanta or Gaviscon, and then if these fail to relieve their pain they will consult their GP and will usually be given a prescription protein pump inhibitor medication, or a H2 receptor antagonist medication.

According to Kenneth DeVault, MD, a gastroenterologist and GERD specialist who is chair of the division of internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville in the United States, 20%-40% of people with GERD whose reflux symptoms, including heartburn and regurgitation, aren’t really helped with medication.

If you are reading this article, then there is good chance that you are one of those people.

Consider the possibility that the problem in your body may not be one of abnormal biochemistry. If this is not the case, what else could it be? Adelaide chiropractors have long recognised that the problem may be able to be approached from two other directions.

Indigestion may be mechanical in origin, involving abnormal contraction of the diaphragm muscle. A hiatus hernia involves the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach sliding up through the opening in the diaphragm muscle.

The diaphragm is the primary muscle for breathing and is quite powerful, so a contraction around the oesophagus or the stomach can distort the valve that seals this opening and stops stomach acid spilling up into the diaphragm. If the acid gets through, a feeling of chest pain, heart palpitations and reflux can result.

Indigestion may also have a neurological component. The brain sends and receives functional signals with all parts of the body via the central nervous system.

The spine is also a significant source of incoming neurological signals which can have effects on the brains processing and distribution of other functional signals. If the neurological instructions between the brain and the digestive organs are interfered with by spinal problems, then the functional performance of those organs may not be as good as they would be normally. Fortunately, your chiropractor will be able to assess your body and identify if there are any of these problems in your spine which may be contributing to your condition, and discuss possible methods of treating them with you.

While not purely a chiropractic technique, the chiropractors at Walkerville Chiropractic have had considerable success alleviating symptoms of indigestion using soft tissue techniques on the diaphragm and stomach, in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments to the spine. In some cases, people have been able to greatly reduce their reliance on medication. It makes sense to treat a mechanical problem with a mechanical solution rather than a chemical one.