09/21/2023 by Dr. Goldi Jacques-Maynes
When Your Stomach Acts Up: Chiropractic for Hiatal Hernias
It can be frustrating when your stomach seems "out of sync." That nagging sensation of indigestion, those intense burping sessions—an upset stomach is super unpleasant.
When you don’t understand what's causing your abdominal issues, it can feel worrisome and overwhelming. You may be wondering how long you should wait until you see your doctor. What you may not be considering, but probably should, is telling your chiropractor about your abdominal issues.
Many of our patients with similar symptoms have been astonished to find that chiropractic can help.
Wait, chiropractic works for stomach issues?
Yes, it can, especially if you're suffering from a hiatal hernia.
What is a hiatal hernia, and what causes it?
We recently saw a competitive paddler gearing up for a big competition. As his training intensified, he suddenly experienced a strain that didn’t feel like a typical muscle pull. He didn't know it, but he had actually experienced a hiatal hernia.
A hiatal hernia occurs when your stomach, normally nestled on the left side of your body, decides to shimmy towards the midline. It may also push its way through your diaphragm, right into your lung cavity!
What can lead to this unexpected stomach shift?
For some, it might be due to intensive activities like our paddler patient. Heavy construction work can also lead to a hiatal hernia.
Others might experience a hiatal hernia after over-indulging in their favorite meal. For others, it's from not chewing their food as well as they should.
Our bodies have a way of letting us know when we're pushing our limits, and a hiatal hernia is one such sign.
Other possible causes of a hiatal hernia are:
- Age-related changes in your diaphragm
- Injury from trauma
- Certain surgeries
- Having an unusually large hiatus
- Persistent and intense pressure on the surrounding muscles from:
- Lifting heavy objects
What are the symptoms of a hiatal hernia?
As our paddler patient ramped up his training, he began to feel some unwelcome physical changes.
He started to experience persistent indigestion: an uncomfortable burning sensation in his chest.
His burps became more and more frequent, disrupting his rhythm on and off the water.
This was not normal, and we're glad he came to us for help.
Most small hiatal hernias don't cause symptoms.
But larger hiatal hernias can cause:
- Acid reflux
- Difficult swallowing
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Feeling full fast
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting blood
- Passing black stools
Some hiatal hernia symptoms are unpleasant, and some are quite alarming! If you find your symptoms are persisting, you should seek help from a healthcare professional.
How do chiropractors diagnose hiatal hernias?
For our paddler patient, an X-ray showed his gastric air bubble had shifted to the middle. We recommended imaging after we examined him and suspected a hiatal hernia.
When looking for causes of abdominal issues, we often tap along your mid nipple line, listening carefully for changes in sound. This helps us determine the location of your gastric air bubble. If it sounds displaced, we'll suspect a hiatal hernia.
Additionally, certain postural changes and dietary habits can be indicative of a hiatal hernia. We'll explore these changes as we discuss your condition and health history.
How do chiropractors treat hiatal hernias?
After his diagnosis, our paddler was eager to find relief. The primary treatment involved specific maneuvers to traction his stomach down. It might sound a bit complex, but imagine a gentle pull, guiding your stomach back to where it belongs.
We also performed thoracic and upper lumbar adjustments to ensure his spine and surrounding areas were in optimal condition to support his healing process.
Gentle chiropractic adjustment can positively affect the nerves surrounding your diaphragm; This can relieve any pressure or tightness, and ease your discomfort.
How long does it take for chiropractic to help with a hiatal hernia?
It didn't take long for our paddling patient to start feeling the difference. After just a few chiropractic sessions, that nagging discomfort began to subside, and he felt a wave of relief.
While the treatment timeline varies from patient to patient, many experience significant relief in a short time span.
What is the best self-care for a hiatal hernia?
Managing a hiatal hernia is about understanding your body and making informed choices. One of the first steps is recognizing and avoiding triggers.
For some, this could mean sidestepping heavy lifting. For others it means steering clear of specific foods that exacerbate your symptoms.
Are you experiencing symptoms of a hiatal hernia?
If you're struggling with hiatal hernia symptoms, we're here for you. Don't let the discomfort hold you back from enjoying your life.
Our chiropractors in Aptos are ready to help you in tackling your hiatal hernia.
Book your appointment online, and together we'll get you out of pain and back into life.