Rather than ignore indigestion or use antacids whenever heartburn interferes with daily life, many pregnant patients could choose to seek chiropractic care.
By using an adjusting instrument to provide effective and gentle care, the chiropractor can help pregnant women find relief and feel better again.
Doctor Caroline Peterson, DC authored “A case study of chiropractic management of pregnancy-related heartburn with postulated fetal epigenome implications,” published in the September and October 2012 issue of EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing.1 This case study describes the treatment of a 32-year-old woman’s pregnancy-caused heartburn using an adjusting instrument.
A 32-year-old woman who was 24 weeks pregnant sought chiropractic care in order to obtain relief for her persistent heartburn. She was taking Tums® (calcium carbonate) and Zantac® (ranitidine) every day.
From the study—“Findings of the initial examination were thoracic intersegmental dysfunction and pain upon palpitation of the diaphragm, with hypertonicity noted.”
Using mind-body therapy and an adjusting instrument, the patient received comprehensive treatment.
Mind-body therapy was administered to the patient using the NeuroEmotional Technique to help the patient address emotional components to her heartburn symptoms. She received adjustments using an adjusting instrument, in order to release her esophageal spasms. She also received thoracic spine adjustments and her diaphragm spasms were released.
Outcomes and discussion
She continued to receive these treatments and her heartburn symptoms were resolved after the fifth treatment. The patient then no longer needed antacid medication. For the duration of her pregnancy she was free of heartburn symptoms.
Many patients seek chiropractic care for help with heartburn and indigestion. A 1996 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics describes a group of 1,494 patients who received care from eight chiropractors in 1994, with approximately 57 percent of the study respondents reporting at least occasional indigestion and 22 percent of those with indigestion claiming at least some relief from chiropractic care, although only 0.3 percent of new patients specifically sought care for indigestion primarily.2
Chiropractic care may offer relief for other forms of pregnancy-caused pain. The author of the case study, along with researchers Mitchel Haas and W Thomas Gregory, authored a study published in 2012 investigating the effectiveness of exercise, NeuroEmotional Technique treatments and spinal manipulation on pregnancy pain.3
The authors randomized 57 pregnant women into three groups, each group receiving of the three therapies. While the study was not statistically powered to differentiate among each group and did not result in a statistically significant difference, spinal manipulation did provide relief for at least half of the participants, according to their scores on a Numeric Pain Rating Scale. The authors claim that more research is needed to confirm these results.3
1 Peterson C. “A case study of chiropractic management of pregnancy-related heartburn with postulated fetal epigenome implications.” Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing 8(5) (2012): 304-8.
2 Bryner P., Staerker P.G. “Indigestion and heartburn: a descriptive study of prevalence in persons seeking care from chiropractors.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 19(5) (1996): 317-23.
3 Peterson C., Haas M., Gregory W. T. “A pilot randomized controlled trial comparing the efficacy of exercise, spinal manipulation, and neuro emotional technique for the treatment of pregnancy-related low back pain.” Chiropractic and Manual Therapies (2012) 20:18.