A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach sticks out through the diaphragm, causing discomfort and digestive issues. There are different solutions for such problems – invasive and non-invasive. We talk about chiropractic being an extremely helpful natural treatment option for many bodily issues. But can a chiropractor fix a hiatal hernia?
Yes, chiropractors can use adjustments to provide relief from hiatal hernia symptoms like acid reflux and chest pain. Such adjustments aim to realign the stomach and diaphragm.
The purpose of this article is to explore how chiropractic care can be an effective, hassle-free treatment option for hiatal hernias. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Hiatal Hernia?
A hiatal hernia occurs when a part of your stomach pushes up through the muscle that separates your abdomen from your diaphragm. This small opening in the diaphragm is normally responsible for allowing food to pass from your mouth to your stomach. However, in the case of a hiatal hernia, the stomach extends through that opening.
While smaller hernias may go unnoticed, larger ones can cause discomfort. They can lead to the backflow of food and stomach acid into the esophagus. The esophagus is a straight, muscular tube that moves food from the throat to the stomach. When food and acid backflow into it, it can result in symptoms like heartburn and chest pain.
There are two major kinds of hiatal hernias:
In a sliding hernia, a portion of the stomach moves upward. Conversely, in a paraesophageal hernia, another abdominal organ moves into the chest cavity.
Causes of Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernias can occur due to various factors, although the exact cause is not always clear-cut. While weakened tissue is often responsible for allowing the stomach to bulge into the diaphragm, certain other factors play a significant role.
- Age-related changes: As we age, the strength of the diaphragm may diminish, increasing the risk of a hiatal hernia.
- Digestive system injuries: Trauma, surgery, or illness affecting the digestive system can weaken the tissues and contribute to the development of a hiatal hernia.
- Congenital factors: Some individuals are born with an oversized hiatus, making them more susceptible to hiatal hernias.
- Chronic pressure: Conditions such as chronic coughing, vomiting, or straining during bowel movements can exert persistent pressure on the muscles surrounding the hiatus.
- Heavy lifting or exercise: Straining during physical activities, particularly weightlifting or intense exercise, can contribute to the formation of a hiatal hernia.
- Pregnancy: The changes in the abdominal cavity during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of developing a hiatal hernia.
The most common risk factors for hiatal hernias are being overweight, smoking, and aging. However, anyone can get this condition.
Symptoms of A Hiatal Hernia
There are many signs of a hiatal hernia, but heartburn is the most common and often severe one. Other symptoms include:
- Food or liquid regurgitation into the mouth
- Difficulties with swallowing
- Acid reflux, where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Feeling full quickly with a small amount of food
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting blood
- Passage of black stool due to gastrointestinal bleeding
Most Common Treatment Options For A Hiatal Hernia
When it comes to treating a hiatal hernia, several options are available to alleviate symptoms and pain. From lifestyle changes to medical interventions, let’s explore the most common treatment options.
Implementing lifestyle changes is crucial for hiatal hernia patients, not only to manage symptoms but also to prevent their progression. Consider the following lifestyle modifications:
- Quit smoking to reduce stomach acidity and lower the risk of complications.
- Sleep with your head in an elevated position. Keep your head approximately 6 inches higher than your abdomen to minimize acid reflux during the night.
- Avoid foods that increase stomach acidity, such as tomato sauce, alcohol, and chocolate.
- Refrain from eating late at night or indulging in midnight snacks.
- Aim to lose weight if you’re overweight. Excess weight can put pressure on the abdomen.
Being mindful of your diet is crucial for managing hiatal hernia symptoms. Certain foods can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and trigger discomfort.
While addressing the underlying cause is important, knowing what to avoid during your recovery can make a significant difference. Carefully consider these potential trigger foods:
- Citrus fruits and juices like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges
- Fried and fatty foods
- Garlic and onions
- Peppermint and spearmint
- Tomato-based foods
- Coffee, tea, and alcohol
- Carbonated beverages
- Dairy products
- Oils and butter
- Spicy foods
Chiropractic care, being a natural treatment option, is preferable. It doesn’t have any side effects and is highly effective.
Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that medical doctors may prescribe medications to alleviate hiatal hernia symptoms if required. Remember, medication should be approached under professional supervision.
In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery as the best treatment for hiatal hernias. The surgical procedure aims to repair the diaphragm opening and remove the hernia sac. It’s important to consult your medical doctor for detailed advice on the surgical option and to understand the potential long-term success.
However, it’s essential to note that surgery is not a cure, and lifestyle changes will still be necessary even after opting for surgery.
How Can a Chiropractor Fix a Hiatal Hernia?
Chiropractic care offers an innovative and effective approach to treating hiatal hernias, going beyond traditional spinal adjustments. By focusing on the musculoskeletal system as a whole, chiropractors can provide relief for such digestive issues.
Gentle Manual Adjustments to Restore Balance
One of the primary techniques used by chiropractors is manual adjustment to correct hiatal hernias. Through this procedure, known as the hiatal hernia technique, they gently guide the stomach back below the diaphragm. Patients may be positioned standing up or reclined on a treatment table during this process.
Discomfort may occur during these adjustments due to the repositioning of sensitive tissues. Yet, most patients experience immediate relief as the pressure and pain begin to ease up following an adjustment. It allows for fuller breaths and increased comfort.
Comprehensive Approach To Strengthen Digestive Muscles
In addition to manual adjustments specific to hiatal hernias, chiropractors employ various techniques that support overall muscle function in your digestive system. Here are a few examples:
- Identifying Misalignments: Chiropractors identify misalignments in surrounding areas that might trigger inflammation or tension, contributing further to spasm-related complications.
- Diaphragmatic Release: This adjustment reduces tension within your diaphragm muscles while alleviating spasms that contribute to discomfort.
- Neck and Back Adjustments: Manipulating nerves connected to your diaphragm through neck and back adjustments indirectly addresses the underlying causes of reflux symptoms.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University say that being around stomach acid over and over again raises the risk of esophageal cancer. It can also cause dental erosion linked to tooth enamel damage. Utilizing the above-mentioned targeted approaches helps relieve existing symptoms. It also prevents potential long-term risks associated with untreated acid exposure.
Massage Therapy For Hiatal Hernias
Chiropractors also teach their patients how to massage themselves, which is a good way to treat a hiatal hernia at home. Such massage therapy offers even more relief.
To treat a hiatal hernia with massage, do the following:
- Find the breastbone.
- Put the tips of your fingers just below the base of your breastbone, about an inch down.
- Press in three different ways: up, in, and down.
- Do this three or more times a day for one minute each time.
Treating hiatal hernias with chiropractic care is a safe and effective option. Using targeted techniques and soft manual manipulations, chiropractors can help move the stomach and ease this condition. However, it is important to consult healthcare professionals for personalized diagnosis and treatment plans for individual needs.
For residents in Minnesota looking for high-quality chiropractic care, The Brost Clinic offers comprehensive services. Our services are aimed at promoting optimum health for individuals of all ages. Our dedicated team of experienced chiropractors is ready to provide the highest level of care to help you find relief from your hiatal hernia symptoms. Contact us today to book an appointment.