Constipation is classically defined as having a bowel movement fewer than three times a week. In reality, one or more bowel movements a day are healthy and anything les should be a concern. With constipation, stools are usually hard, dry, small in size, and difficult to eliminate. Some people who are constipated find it painful to pass a stool and often experience straining, bloating, and the sense of a full bowel.

Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, and a poor diet, lack of hydration or lack of exercise typically is the cause. Most constipation is temporary and not serious and lifestyle changes will help relieve symptoms and help prevent them from recurring. These changes may include adding high-fiber foods to the diet, drinking enough water so as not to become dehydrated and engaging in daily exercise. When this fails to offer relief, the problem may be related to the nerve system, and chiropractic can help.

How Chiropractic Care Relates to Constipation

Chiropractic adjustments (particularly in the lower spine) may help relieve constipation.

Muscles in the intestine push the stool to the anus, where the stool leaves the body. Special nerve cells in the intestine, called ganglion cells make the muscles push. These nerves connect directly to the celiac ganglion, which also innervates the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, kidney, small intestine, and the ascending and transverse colon. The celiac ganglion, in turn connects to the spinal cord (and brain) through nerve roots that exit the spine in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar region.

Pressure on these nerve roots caused by misalignment of the vertebrae in this area (which chiropractic can fix) may interfere with the normal function of the bowel as well as other organs of the digestive system. Depending on the specific circumstances, sometimes one adjustment fixes the problem and other times routine chiropractic maintenance is required.