Vancouver Osteopathy: Treatment of IBS?

| Categorized: Broadway Wellness News.

Photo credit: Jannes Jacobs


14% of Canada’s population suffers from IBS and only 40% of them will seek medical attention. The estimated cost to the Canadian healthcare system for IBS alone exceeds $6.5 billion each year. Irritable bowel syndrome is also a frequent cause of work and school absenteeism which can represent another $8 billion of lost productivity in our workforce. Link to full article here.

To further complicate the IBS picture, conventional treatment has low success rates. General practitioners prescribe antidiarrheals, laxatives, or antidepressants. All of which ignores the underlying or root cause. Vancouver osteopathy presents a more affordable , gentle technique to assist those with IBS.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a chronic disorder that can involve the small and/or large intestines of the digestive tract. More specifically, irritable bowel syndrome presents with motility problems (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines). Motility problems can be either too fast (diarrhea/loose stools), too slow (constipation), or a combination of the two. In addition, irritable bowel syndrome affects how your brain interprets signals from the nerves in the bowel. This can result in abdominal pain, bloating, and/or anxiety.

Diseases have known causes, IBS is a collection of symptoms. Therefore, it is classified as a syndrome.

The symptoms of IBS include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels
  • Diarrhea (passing three or more stools per day, and/or urgent need to have a bowel movement)
  • Constipation (passing three or fewer stools in a week or passing hard, dry stools and/or straining during a bowel movement)
  • Abdominal pain and/or cramping

Vancouver: Can Osteopathy help IBS? 

Osteopathy is a hands-on therapy which aims to restore the function of the body by treating the cause of the imbalance. Its philosophy was founded on the belief that the body is naturally capable of healing itself. Practitioners work through manipulations of the tissues to enhance this natural ability of self-regulation and healing.  The goal of an osteopathic treatment, in relation to IBS, is to improve proper communication between the gut and brain is both restored and maintained.

Osteopathic techniques have demonstrated highly effective results in treating IBS symptoms. A small study set out to establish if osteopathic treatment was effective in treating IBS in a hospital environment. Forty IBS patients were diagnosed by a gastroenterologist and received either allopathic or osteopathic treatment. Osteopathic treatment was found to be effective in both the short and long-term, and it was found to be significantly more effective than allopathic treatment.

A study showed an overall improvement in 68% of IBS patients who received osteopathic treatments vs 18% of IBS patients receiving allopathic care up to 6-months after treatment.

How does Osteopathy help IBS?

Abdominal Adhesions

While not commonly cited in the medical literature, visceral adhesions can be a primary cause for IBS. Almost all patients develop adhesions after abdominal surgery, although not all are necessarily symptomatic. They occur when the fascial tissues heal improperly.

Adhesions can form between every organ and damaged tissue layer. Though they most commonly occur between the omentum and the incision/wound.  Adhesions can also develop during inflammation as seen with infections. Unfortunately, the traditional treatment for visceral adhesions is surgery – the very thing that likely brought about the adhesions in the first place. Fortunately, osteopathy is well positioned to offer a non-surgical approach to removing visceral adhesions.

Visceral Manipulation

Visceral osteopathy can help irritable bowel syndrome by manipulating the bowel and the mesentery through the abdominal wall. These techniques create improved blood flow and nerve innervation to the gut by releasing the mesentery. Mobilization of the spine can also help to improve the function of the nerves which supply the intestine. This can lead to calming the nerves and relaxation of the smooth muscle of the gut.

Chronic Inflammation

In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, one study showed that the body’s ability to heal adhesions can be interrupted by a chronic inflammatory state. In these situations, the immune system actually maintains the adhesion instead of dissolving the dense connective tissue.

Remember, this chronic inflammatory state can be caused by elevated long-term stress levels. These states can cause elevated levels of cortisol. Those with irritable bowel syndrome are prone to this state. Thus, effective treatment must always include stress-reduction techniques.

In conclusion, the research clearly illustrates the failing of conventional health care to properly manage IBS.  Osteopathy presents successful treatment outcomes with minimal negative effects. Osteopathy should be considered as a go-to therapy for those with IBS.

Article written by Mark Volmer in Canada, Alberta.

Here at Broadway Wellness we have Alison Ritchie who is a Vancouver based Osteopathic practitioner. She is able to apply the techniques mentioned above to aid in healing process of IBS. Alison works Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday here at Broadway and Willow. Book in your appointment today to begin your path to healing. 

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