Are you or someone you love looking for constipation relief? In our office we see babies, kids, adults and elderly patients who suffer from signs of constipation:
- Irregular or infrequent bowel movements
- Difficulty in ease of passage of bowel movements
- Improper consistency of stools
- Dependency on laxatives or stool softeners
If you want to try a natural, non-invasive approach to managing constipation, we highly encourage you to consider chiropractic care. We’ve had numerous practice members report better digestion and an improvement in their constipation after trying consistent chiropractic care, but don’t just take out word for it: there are many studies that support chiropractic as a means of managing constipation, three of which can be found as references at the end of this blog.
A little about the digestive system:
Our digestive system is one of the smartest and most complex systems in our body. It allows us to absorb the nutrients that we need to survive. These nutrients are used or stored in our body for energy, growth and cell repair. It also allows us to remove wastes or harmful substances in our body.
Before we talk about how chiropractic can impact constipation, we need to understand that the nervous system (in particular, the autonomic nervous system) is in direct contact with our digestive system, which enables it to regulate functions, such as:
- Detecting the smell of food to trigger salivation.
- Detecting the presence of food in our esophagus, stomach and intestines.
- Pushing food through our digestive tract by utilizing pressure and stretch receptors.
- Stimulating the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients through the use of chemoreceptors, secretions and others.
The nervous system in relation to digestion:
The parasympathetic system (also known as the rest and digest system) is a part of the autonomic nervous system. It branches off two points: (1) the brainstem, which is the part of our brains just atop our spinal cord, and (2) the sacral nerves, which is the very bottom of our spinal cord. The brainstem includes the vagus nerve aka the wandering nerve because it travels down our body and innervates many organs on its way, including the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, small and large intestines, pancreas, bladder and rectum. On the other hand, the sacral nerves include nerves that go our colon and bladder. Both of these branches together help establish communication to regulate digestion and defecation.
The amount of communication and feedback required to keep our digestive system running properly is simply astounding. As stated, it requires receptors to detect when food has entered our mouths, stomach and intestines, it requires smooth muscle activation to break down food and pass it along our digestive tract, and it requires the coordination of organs and the secretion of hormones, at multiple points in the process, to properly digest food, absorb nutrients and remove wastes. And yet all of this is still a huge oversimplification of all of the things that need to occur for our digestive system to operate properly.
There are sources online whose main objective is to explain this process in detail2, 4, but for now we’ll focus on the main topic of this blog, which is how chiropractic can support digestion and help with constipation.
Chiropractic and constipation relief:
Chiropractic care focuses on healing the body form the inside out by addressing the structure of your spinal column. By correcting any misalignments that are putting pressure on the nerves that branch out from the spine, a chiropractic adjustment can remove nerve interference and stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.
The NIH’s National Library of Medicine states that “The parasympathetic nervous system, in contrast, exerts both excitatory and inhibitory control over gastric and intestinal tone and motility (i.e., milling, absorption, secretion, and defecation), implying a more finely tuned and complex influence over GI activity.” In other words, if misalignments interrupt the communication going to the parasympathetic system, this could create digestive issues, which includes constipation, but possibly other issues as well (i.e. irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal prolapse due to excessive straining).
Thankfully, in our office we practice a neurology-based technique that gives us the tools to find and correct spinal misalignments. From newborns who haven’t had a bowel movement in ten days to older patients who have had bouts of extreme constipation for decades, using Torque Release Technique, chiropractic treatment has helped many of our practice members manage constipation over the years.
If you’re tired of managing constipation with medications or have tried multiple methods without success, consider chiropractic adjustments for a natural way to find relief and experience regular bowel movements.
Alacantara J, Mayer D. The successful chiropractic care of pediatric patients with chronic constipation: a case series and selective review of the literature. Clinical Chiropractic. 2008;11(3):138–47.
Browning KN, Travagli RA. Central nervous system control of gastrointestinal motility and secretion and modulation of gastrointestinal functions. Compr Physiol. 2014 Oct;4(4):1339-68. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c130055. PMID: 25428846; PMCID: PMC4858318. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4858318/
Horley M. Resolution of chronic constipation and neck pain following chiropractic care in a 6-year-old female. J Pediatr Matern & Fam Health – Chiropr. 2010(2):51–55.
Rédly M. The effects of chiropractic care on a patient with chronic constipation. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2001 Sep;45(3):185–91. PMCID: PMC2505067.
Tobias A, Sadiq NM. Physiology, Gastrointestinal Nervous Control. [Updated 2022 Sep 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545268/