Heartburn and osteopathy
Heartburn is characterized by the rising of digestive enzymes and acids into the oesophagus. The medical term for this is pyrosis and it is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease. (GERD)
30% of the population will find themselves one day confronted with heartburn. Some people are more susceptible than others: people suffering from hiatal hernia (a part of the stomach rises into the thoracic cage), pregnant women (more often in the last months of pregnancy), people who are obese or overweight (because of a greater abdominal pressure) and people 50 years old and older (the oesophageal sphincter relaxes more easily).
This pathology causes great discomfort to the patient, particularly when the reflux becomes chronic and can eventually lead to significant damage.
Heartburn and osteopathy
A burning that rises up along the sternum
It is often most noticeable after a meal, when in an inclined position, when lying down, or at night.
That is when the stomach contents rise more easily into the oesophagus.
Acid regurgitations without vomiting
The acid content of the stomach is regurgitated into the throat, causing discomfort and possible insomnia.
Respiratory issues or chronic ENT issues
There is a possible link between heartburn and repeated pulmonary infections, asthma, chronic cough (mostly at night), laryngitis or chronic pharyngitis.
Factors that aggravate heartburn
Factors that lessen heartburn
The first precaution is to eliminate tobacco products, alcohol and coffee.
Foods to eliminate are: acidic foods (French fries and fried foods), industrially prepared snacks (cream, pastries, sweets), animal protein, sauerkraut, fermented cheese.
And the foods to avoid are: shellfish, eggs, mushrooms, mint and chocolate.
The hyper secretion of acid worsens gastritis and gastroesophageal reflux. This very important secretion can be caused, in part, by excessive stress.
The practice of endurance physical exercise, most notably in competition, could intensify heartburn and reduce gastro-intestinal blood flow.
Certain medications of the aspirin family or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are also discouraged.
Foods that are highly recommended: all food that is rich in omega 3; nuts (at least 3 per meal), flax seeds and rapeseed oil.
The recommended foods are: cooked or dried vegetables, grains and starches (potatoes in particular), lean meats and fish (Bass, Hake, Snapper, Flounder, Pollock, Sole), fresh or non-fermented cheese and fresh fruits.
Finally, you should know that mastication is the first step in digestion !
Some simple things that you can do everyday will prevent your stomach from being sloshed around:
- Avoid lowering your body or lying down right after a meal.
- Raise the head end of your bed or sleep with pillows.
- Don’t go to bed until at least three hours after your supper.
- Avoid clothing that is too tight and belts.
The osteopath can be very helpful when it comes to heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux in adults and infants alike.
The goal of treatment is to encourage the mobility of different structures around the stomach and the oesophagus (diaphragm, spinal column, sternum, ribs).
Visceral techniques are favoured and consist, schematically, in pulling the elevated stomach down with the help of the patient’s own breathing.
The osteopath will also seek to balance the neurovegetative system, whose role it is to control gastric secretions (travels from the cranial nerve X through the jugular foramen at the base of the skull to the diaphragm. It is in direct relation with the gastrophrenic ligament).