Can Chiropractic Help with Hiatal Hernia?

hiatal-herniaAs many as 10 percent of people over age 40 have a hiatal hernia, and the number increases with age. The exact causes are not known. Some people develop a hiatal hernia after an injury to that area of the body. Some are born with a weakened diaphragm muscle. Children who have a hiatal hernia are usually born with it.


What is Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the stomach has passed through the esophageal hiatus in the diaphragm into the chest cavity.  The condition is very common and occurs most often in women and older adults.  By age 60 up to 60% of individuals will have a hiatal hernia to some degree.  It is associated with obesity, pregnancy, ascites, and the use of tight fitting belts and clothes.  Muscle weakness is a primary factor in developing a hiatal hernia.


The Symptoms of Hiatal Hernia

Other classic symptoms of hiatal hernia is the pain and/or heartburn that occurs at night after consuming a large meal within a couple of hours before going to bed.  While lying on the back, the contents in the stomach regurgitate, and symptoms of heartburn, upper stomach discomfort, hiccups, non-cardiac chest pain and radiating pain to the mid and upper thoracic spine can occur.

A hiatal hernia starts to cause problems when it is accompanied by this acid reflux, which in turn can produce esophagitis.  It will usually be noticed when an individual starts to develop pain around the stomach and/or heartburn that worsens with lying down and is relieved by sitting up or with antacids.  They may also experience waterbrash (the mouth fills with fluid from the esophagus), and difficulty swallowing.  Incarceration of the hernia is rare but can occur, requiring surgical intervention.  Symptoms of incarceration include sudden onset of vomiting pain, and complete inability to swallow.  Incarceration is when the hernia so severe that it cannot be fixed through manipulation.


Treatment Options for Hiatal Hernia

There are multiple things that can be done to help with hiatal hernia.  One of the most important is to make sure that the nerve supply to the stomach is not being impeded in any way.  This is done by seeing a chiropractor to determine the nerve function to the stomach and to make any necessary treatments to remedy nerve interference.

Another thing to help with symptoms of hiatal hernia is to have the individual sleep at night while lying on the left side.  The position can usually replace elevation of the head of the bed and can give the individual significant relief of symptoms during sleep.  The other primary consideration is that the individual should finish eating the evening meal at least four hours before retiring; and the portion sizes should be small.


Chiropractic and Hiatal Hernia

These can help manage it, but in addition to being sure there is no nerve interference to the stomach, there are techniques that chiropractors may utilize to manually assist in bringing the stomach back down to its normal area so the hernia may resolve and individuals will not have to continually try to treat the symptoms only.  By getting treated with chiropractic care, a patient may be able to avoid the invasive, costly and often risky surgical route.  Surgery is an expensive procedure that can keep you away from work, while medications such as antacids may leave you with insufficient acid production to digest food properly.


A Case Report Showing Chiropractic’s Effectiveness for Hiatal Hernia

Recently published in the Journal of Chiropractic Education, case report highlighted a patient’s clinical success with chiropractic for hiatal hernia.  A 54 year old male patient presented with severe pain in the epigastric area worse with deep breathing, eating any food, and sensations of unremitting persistent upper abdominal aching. The condition had persisted for three days before he sought treatment.Immediately upon his chiropractic pulling his stomach downward the patient said he could breathe comfortably for the first time in three days. Approximately 2 minutes following the adjustment he reported the constant tension in the epigastric region was gone. At three, six, and twelve-month follow-ups the patient indicated no reoccurrence or residual discomforts.


Treatment for Hiatal Hernia in Augusta GA

As chiropractors in Augusta GA that specialize in customized care, we have helped many patients suffering with hiatal hernia.  We can perform a simple yet highly effective adjustment that actually helps to shift the stomach downward, back into its normal position. Once this is achieved, we can prescribe exercises to help you strengthen your abdominal muscles, since weakness or injury in this area may well have encourages the hernia to develop in the first place.  You can schedule a complimentary consultation with our office to find out if our customized treatments are the right fit for your condition.


The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.

 Augusta GA Chiropractors Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized chiropractic care. Visit our main website at for customized chiropractic in Augusta GA and customized chiropractic in Evans GA.

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