When you first see your osteopath, they will ask you all sorts of medical questions. These will include the main body systems, such as digestion. Not only might we be able to help with some digestive issues, but symptoms here can give important clues to other conditions.



IBS is actually a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that it can only truly be diagnosed by ruling out other conditions. There are no specific tests to diagnose it in itself, but your doctor needs to know that there isn’t an allergy or other problem going on. That said, people with IBS often find there are dietary triggers to their symptoms.

IBS is very closely linked to stress and tension. There is the potential for a vicious cycle to occur here. Abdominal cramps can cause you to develop a protective posture, bending forward slightly and causing tension in the abdomen. Although this can provide some temporary comfort, it does nothing to help the problem. In fact, this restriction might make things worse. Your osteopath may be able to help here by addressing the musculoskeletal part of the problem. When you adopt this protective posture, the diaphragm can become tight too, making it harder to uncurl yourself. We can work with this muscle, along with the other large muscles of the back and abdomen to improve local movement.


There is evidence to suggest that manual therapies, such as osteopathy, can help with constipation. It is important to note that this research was particularly concerned with Functional Constipation. In this context, “functional” means that there is a change to the function without any identifiable change to the tissues themselves. This might apply to you if you have had medical investigation for constipation, and no formal diagnosis or suggestion of treatments to solve the cause.

The research showed that treatments as short as 20 minutes, given frequently, had positive benefits. This could mean patients had more frequent bowel movements, consumed fewer laxatives, or simply reported an improvement subjectively.

Digestion as a Clue

Some rheumatic conditions are associated with digestive problems. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and AxSpA are closely linked to Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. We know that AS and AxSpA are underdiagnosed, so picking up on points like these can be really useful in getting to the root of your chronic back pain.

Other rheumatic conditions have similar links. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis may be easier to diagnose than AS and AxSpA, but there can still be delays to diagnosis. Changes in digestion may come before, after, or at a similar time as the onset of these forms of arthritis. Any change is worth reporting.

If any of these points resonate with you, you can book an appointment online here.