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How Chiropractic Care Helps My IBS

I’ve always been very wary of chiropractors despite my general embrace of alternative and holistic medicine. I’ve been a patron of acupuncture, yoga, Reiki and massage since I was in/right out of college. But I didn’t trust chiropractors to touch me as I had heard horror stories that they can do major damage to your body.

My negative experience with chiropractic care

I also hate to admit that when I did finally break down and try a chiropractor, my first impression confirmed my worst fears. Namely, I went to see someone who did what was–for me–an aggressive adjustment. At the time, I was suffering from seriously painful back problems due to degenerative disc disease. But the woman’s adjustment caused one of those discs to herniate and form a cyst on the nerve, and the nerve pain spread down my leg like an icy, electric current. Even today, more than three years later, I still have lingering nerve damage in my leg from that incident.

In the ensuing months after that visit, my leg was besieged by disabling charlie horses so severe they pulled my muscles to the point where they couldn’t bear any weight for hours or even sometimes days at a time. The back problems also flared my IBS, as I’ve addressed on here before how spinal issues can impact GI function.

My positive experience with chiropractic care

Someone suggested I might try another chiropractor, which I thought was crazy at first. But after doing some digging I found a practice near my home that didn’t do any aggressive adjustments. Instead, they did soft tissue-style manipulation combined with flexion distraction–which is when you lay down on a table and your midsection is lifted while the other two sides of your body are dropped down a bit. This gently decompresses your spine, and takes the weight of the disc off the nerves. They also used a technique called Graston, in which a stainless steel tool is used to rub against the skin (after oil or lotion is applied) into the muscle to break up fascia and knots in the back. When my back is very spastic and tight, I am more likely to have IBS issues.

Miraculously, going to this chiropractor helped minimize the charlie horses. Where I was getting them weekly, I was then getting them only monthly, and now I can go several months without getting them. I also noticed with my back in less pain, my IBS improved again as well.

Do your research before seeking chiropractic care

Of course, this was my experience with one chiropractor. My other experience was really bad, so it depended on the doctor. If you decide to go to a chiropractor, make sure you do your homework to see what they offer and if it fits your needs. If anything hurts, tell them to stop immediately. Perhaps opt for gentle adjustments or only soft tissue manipulation to begin with. Investigate reviews and feedback they have received online and ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to lay out limitations for your treatment.

Have you ever tried or do you see a chiropractor? Did it help your pain issues and did it have any benefits for your IBS? Please let us know in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • jthomp9
    6 months ago

    I had a bad experience going to a chiropractor. It was the first time I had ever been to one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d been going for a while when during one appointment, I felt my neck had been rather aggressively adjusted. A couple of hours later, I had a migraine! It scared me. I had read some research that adjustments could possibly cause strokes. I eventually stopped going, and didn’t try that therapy again. It’s good to know that there are more gentle techniques/therapies being used now.

  • tmholland moderator
    5 months ago


    It’s awful when we decide to take the leap and try something new to help ourselves, only to have a negative experience. I agree that it is definitely a good thing that there are more gentle options available. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

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