It is estimated that up to 25% of the Western World has experienced constipation. This occurs when food moves too slowly through the digestive tract and as a consequence stool becomes more solid and increasingly difficult to pass. It is one of the the most common conditions affecting the digestive tract.
Naturopaths and Osteopaths agree that you need to have a good bowel movement at least once a day and if you do so less frequently you are constipated.
Causes of Constipation
* Dietary - Not eating enough fruits, veggies, whole grains, and other food rich in fiber.
- Too much pasta
* A change in personal circumstances, lifestyle or eating habits.
* STRESS at work or at home.
* Other mood disorders such as anxiety, feeling low in mood, or depression.
* Certain medicines: most commonly pain killing medicines/narcotics based in codeine or morphine, sedatives, some anti- depressants, or meds that lower blood pressure.
Food enters the mouth and then passes down the esophagus to the stomach, to the small intestine, to the large intestine, to the colon, to the toilet. Once food is in the stomach digestive juices stimulate the rest of the tract to produce digestive secretions.
The main function of the colon is to re-absorb water from the purified food.The longer the bowel contents hang around, the more water is re-absorbed and the drier they become. These waste products become stagnant and start to putrefy. Toxins from stagnant waste products may be re-absorbed from the blood instead of leaving the body. The gut wall becomes inflamed by these toxic wastes, and new food arriving irritates the inflamed area, possibly triggering diarrhea. Flatulence (passing gas) arises from stagnant and fermented foodstuffs. Consequences of this irritation may cause the following: fever, backache, headache, upset stomach, loss of appetite, gas, congestion of the spleen or pancreas.
OSTEOPATHIC THOUGHT PROCESS
Osteopathic Manual Therapy (OMT) in bowel dysfunction is often directed toward improving blood and lymphatic flow to these tissues. Also an integral part of our approach is balancing neural signals to and from the bowel. Specifically, these signals are the Sympathetics (SNS) OR the fight or flight response, and the Parasympathetics (PNS) OR the rest and digest system.
Too much SNS or hyperactivity of the lower Gastro-Intestinal (GI) tract is associated with symptoms of constipation, bloating and gas.
Too little PNS or hypoactivity of the lower GI decreases bowel motility and glandular secretion as well as constipation.
Metabolic changes caused by dysfunction of the tissues of the colon can lead to increased fluids and tissue congestion. The result is an accumulation of waste products, reduce blood flow and decreased nutrition to the cells.
OSTEOPATHIC MANUAL TREATMENT
OMT enhances homeostatic mechanisms of the patient who has illness or dysfunction. Homeostasis is the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdepedent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. In the case of constipation the following issues will be addressed:
SNS - Rib raising produces the reflexes which clinically normalize sympathetic activity. Also paraspinal inhibitory soft tissue manipulations are applied to decease SNS.
PNS - Cranial sacral techniques are applied to reduce PNS with focus to the head and upper neck.
LYMPHATICS - Indirect fascial (connective tissue) to the thoracic outlet to improve lymphatic flow.
- Inhibition to the pelvic diaphragm to inhibit the pelvic PNS and improve lymphatic flow from the legs.
- Relax the abdominal diaphragm to improve blood and lymph flow throughout the entire body.
- Improve lymphatic flow to decrease congestion and increase nutriend absorption from the bowel.
SPINAL - Any restrictions in spinal mobility will be addressed.
Lisa Marie Foreman, Osteopath
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