DISCLAIMER: Names of patients have been changed and certain details about their cases have been edited to protect their privacy. The authors only use real names if patients give prior approval in writing.
Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which is common. GER occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens spontaneously, for varying periods of time, or does not close properly and stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. GER is also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation, because digestive juices—called acids—rise up with the food. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach.
Picture of acid reflux anatomy
When acid reflux occurs, food or fluid can be tasted in the back of the mouth. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus it may cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn or acid indigestion. Occasional GER is common and does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Persistent reflux that occurs more than twice a week is considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems. People of all ages can have GERD. source: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/
How Osteopathy helped Mdm Wong
Madam Wong was diagnosed with gastric acid reflux, a chronic disease in the digestive system which gave her frequent sore throats not relieved with medication. Her doctors advised that she sleep in a bed with a 45-degree incline or have surgery to relieve her symptoms. Madam Wong decided not to undergo surgery and in the last seven years, she has learned to cope by avoiding certain foods. Travelling is the worst time for her since it prevents her from sleeping in her usual inclined bed, which aggravates her gastric acid reflux.
Besides this, Madam Wong also suffered from spinal stiffness. She avoided certain activities and did not bend forward as much when she did her errands to prevent the discomfort.
When she first came to OPRC, Madam Wong needed treatment for the low back pain that she was experiencing. Therapists gave her osteopathic treatment and clinical massage which relieved her pain and discomfort. After several visits, she was able to bend forward easily. She showed the greatest improvement from gentle osteopathic manipulation which released the tension around her diaphragm and stomach area.
Osteopathic treatment– abdominal muscle palpation and treatment to release tension of the diaphragm muscle helping to relieve gastric reflux
Madam Wong report that she now walks faster than her husband. She is able to sleep flat in her home and during her travels and finally she can bend forward without pain.
How does this example help you?
You don’t have to live with gastric reflux. It can affect other parts of your body.
Like most people, Madam Wong did not think that her gastric reflux can affect her spine. Although she suffered from low back stiffness before her disease, the additional muscle tension on her ribs and spinal area made her feel even stiffer. It was like wearing permanent “corset” of tight muscles and feeling it constrict on her spine. Also, because she had to sleep in an inclined position, it meant that the pressure on her low back joints and muscles increased.
Osteopathic manipulation –releases tension around the stomach muscle which also helps relieve back stiffness
Osteopathic treatment can also help you even after years of problems.
It did not take long to relieve Mdm Wong’s recent back pain but releasing seven years of additional stiffness took time as her body and spine tightened up so much. The key aspect that unlocked her problem was the understanding that the added tension from the gastric reflux needed to be released with osteopathic manipulation which then allowed her old back stiffness to get better.
Osteopathic manipulation — gentle approach to effectively release fascial tension around the lower chest and abdominal areas.
Osteopathic assesment can tailor the treatment appropriate to your needs.
Osteopathy can reduce the pain and stiffness through treatments tailor made for your needs. For instance, every patient that has gastric reflux will have the same symptoms but the causes may vary. Our resident osteopaths will give you a thorough osteopathic examination and talk to you about your lifestyle to identify what causes your pain. This will include discussing how your posture, sports, and habits affect you. Our osteopaths will develop a custom made treatment and wellness plan for you based on this assessment to give you long-term relief.
What to do next if you have similar symptoms?
Call 6327 8545 for an appointment and we’ll do a thorough examination to find out how we can relieve your symptoms as soon as possible.
Patients are advised to see their doctor if the symptoms are severe and require medical investigation.