"I suffer from irritable Bowel Disease (IBS) and have done so for some years.  Medically, my blood tests are normal and I have even had an endoscope investigation that showed nothing of concern.  I have heard from a friend that Chiropractic might help?"

Mrs M Instow North Devon

South Molton News Article - July 2010

 Over the years I have certainly seen many patients who list IBS as one of their complaints.  Similar to your own case there is often no pathology found by conventional means.  Investigations to rule out conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease or Hiatus Hernia first is important.  Beyond this Chiropractic care may have a role to play. 

The digestive tract is essentially a long tube surrounded by smooth muscle. The muscle wall aids the movement of food through the bowels in a process called peristalsis. The smooth muscle of the digestive system receives its nerve supply from the spine between Thoracic 2 (T2) to Lumbar 2 (L2).  Exiting from the spine between the shoulder blades at T4 to T6 is the autonomic nerves that control the stomach and small intestines.  These nerves join to form the Celiac Plexus.   This neural structure is located just underneath the breastbone at the area commonly known as the Solar Plexus.  It's important to say that the exact mechanism of IBS is still poorly understood, but, from a Chiropractic perspective, irritation of the nerve root at T4, T5 or T6 can stimulate the Celiac Plexus giving a painful sensation that feels as if it's in the stomach.  Whether it's the nerve irritating the stomach or the other way round is unclear, but my experience is that chiropractic adjustments, where indicated, often greatly reduces the symptoms and can even resolve the problem. 

Researches into the effects of manual therapy on IBS have been conducted, but far more is required.  In a small study by Osteopaths in The Netherlands they found 68 percent of patients noted definite overall improvement, with significant improvements in overall bowel function.  My clinical observations are similar and I would expect two out of three patients with IBS to respond well.


Julien Barker

South Street Chiropractic