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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

One of the most prevalent gastrointestinal disorders on the rise in the United States is referred to as irritable colon or spastic colon, and is most commonly referred to as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  Studies have shown that over 30 million people across North America suffer from IBS.  Unfortunately, the exact cause of IBS is unknown and there is minimal research on the disorder.  Statistics have shown there is a correlation between the increase in IBS cases and the rise of sugar, salt, and chemicals in foods within the Western American Diet.  All of these excess additives can cause stress and chronic inflammation on the digestive tract.  IBS is a disorder that affects the function of the digestive system, specifically the colon. The disorder reduces the movement (motility) of the colon causing uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptom Management

The diagnosis of IBS is made off of symptoms lasting for at least three times a month for a minimum of six months.  Signs and symptoms of IBS vary from person to person.  The most recognized symptoms that people experience are abdominal pain, cramping and bloating.  Generally, these symptoms are relieved by passing bowel movements.  It is also common to have excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.  It is important to realize that IBS can be managed and controlled with stress management, a low inflammatory diet, exercise, and chiropractic adjustments.  The FODMAPS diet (FODMAP Food List)[a] is a low inflammatory diet developed in Australia that has shown positive improvements with symptom management of IBS by removing trigger foods.  Exercise is also a great symptom management tactic for IBS.   Exercise not only decreases stress, but improves digestive function by increasing intestinal movement and gas transit time.  Regular exercise has been shown to not only improve episodes of IBS, but improve IBS symptoms and enhance overall quality of life.


With chiropractic adjustments we can correct segmental dysfunction or misalignments in the spinal column. Segmental dysfunction has a direct impact on the function of the nerve system.  A study shown in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research states changes in the neurology from a specific chiropractic adjustment can restore proper function to the nervous system and directly impact the function of the gastrointestinal tract.  In other words, removing segmental dysfunction in the spine will relieve pressure on the nerves that control the large intestine and in turn increase the function of the body, which includes the gastrointestinal tract.


Daley, A., et al. “The Effects of Exercise upon Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients Diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” International Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 29, no. 09, Mar. 2008, pp. 778–782., doi:10.1055/s-2008-1038600.

“Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, doi:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016.

Nardi, Jason.  “Resolution of Irritable Bowel Symptomatology in a Patient Undergoing Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care.” Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research.  18 April 2013. 25-31.

O’Keeffe, M., et al. “Long-Term impact of the low-FODMAP diet on gastrointestinal symptoms, dietary intake, patient acceptability, and healthcare utilization in irritable bowel syndrome.” Neurogastroenterology & Motility, vol. 30, no. 1, 2017, doi:10.1111/nmo.13154.

Saito, Y, et al. “The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome in North America: a systematic review.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 97, no. 8, 1 Aug. 2002, pp. 1910–1915., doi:10.1016/s0002-9270(02)04270-3.

“Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome.” Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School. 29 July 2015. Doc: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/a-new-diet-to-manage-irritable-bowel-syndrome