WHY DO PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM IBS AND OTHER GASTROINTESTINAL DYSFUNCTION COMPLAIN OF MIDDLE BACK PAIN?
Stephanie James, Osteopath at The Forge Clinic Richmond, tells us about her experience of treating middle back pain.
“Not a week passes by without me seeing a patient who complains of middle back pain. After excluding a musculoskeletal injury associated with too heavy lifting at the gym or something else, I often question my patient about their stomach and abdomen: “Do you suffer from IBS? Celiac disease? Ulcerative Colitis? Or have you simply been experiencing more bloating of your stomach and belly recently?”
Often my patient ‘s reaction is one of surprise at such a question. Osteopaths like me are known for treating musculoskeletal disease and injuries, so why am I asking you about your stomach?
Andrew Still Taylor, founder of Osteopathy, once said: “It is the object of a physician to find health, anyone can find disease“. In short, osteopaths are trained to find the source of the dysfunction and go beyond the obvious.
One way to look at things is to go back to the anatomy and nervous system of the human body. What is the direct link between the stomach/abdomen and the back?
The visceral organs (eg stomach, liver, intestine, gall bladder, spleen, lungs) are partly innervated by the sympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves that goes from the spinal cord to the organs. Different organs = different levels of the spinal cord. For example if I take the stomach, it is mainly derived from the Thoracic 5 to Thoracic 9 (midback) via the splanchnic nerve.
Now looking closer, we can find one example of a link between that splanchnic nerve, the spinal cord, the brain and even the muscle and joints: the sinuvertebral nerves (in red below). They not only innervate the intervertebral disc (the cushioning in between our vertebras) but they also have direct connections with the sympathetic nervous system which innervate the visceral organs.
Someone suffering from a chronic stomach or abdominal pain may experience constant irritations that would create a phenomenon of facilitation at the spine level, spreading to the joints, muscles, fascia and discs and leading to an achy feel in the mid back.
There are further links between the spinal cord, brain and visceral organs that have to be taken into consideration to fully address a midback pain, such as breathing restrictions, poor muscle tone and posture. However, both my patients and I feel that we notice a considerable improvement if the stomach and abdomen are addressed.
Some techniques would include gentle mobilisation of your stomach, diaphragm, spine, and cranial osteopathy.
Are you suffering from back pain in the middle of your back?
If you have mid back pain and would like to see Stephanie James Osteopath at our clinic in Richmond, please call 020 8332 6184, book online or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. Stephanie is available all day Wednesday and alternate Saturdays in Richmond at The Forge Clinic.