With approximately half a million people in the United States suffering from Crohn’s disease, along with its rapid rise in prevalence, odds are good that you will probably start to see more patients who suffer from this chronic digestive problem.1,2
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that is often found in people between the ages of 20 and 29 who smoke and may have a relative – usually a sibling or parent – with either Crohn’s disease or another type of IBD.1,2
Given that you will likely be seeing more of these patients, it is vital to not only understand how this condition affects the digestive system, but also how chiropractic care can improve your patients’ symptoms.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune inflammation of the
digestive system, usually occurring in the small intestine, where it meets the
large intestine. In many cases, symptoms will gradually appear and then worsen
over time. Patients can also have periods of remission, lasting anywhere from
weeks to years.
Although there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, standard treatment uses drugs to focus on the symptoms. Such treatments usually include anti-inflammatory, immune-system suppressant, antibiotic, and pain relieving medications. Because those with Crohn’s disease often have trouble properly absorbing vitamins and minerals, they may also need iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D supplements.
What does the research say?
As Crohn’s disease can have periods of relapse, anti-inflammatory treatments are often thought to help reduce the frequency of these relapses. A 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine explored the possibility of fish-oil supplements to cut down on symptom relapse.3
The researchers conducted a year-long study of 78 patients with Crohn’s disease with a high risk for relapse. Patients received either nine, 2.7 g capsules of n-3 fatty acids or nine placebo capsules daily. Of the 39 patients in the fish-oil group, 11 (28 %) had relapses and four withdrew from the study due to symptoms of diarrhea.3
Among the 39 patients in the placebo group, 27 patients (69 percent) suffered symptom relapse, and one withdrew because of diarrhea. Furthermore, at the end of the study, 23 patients taking fish oil (59 percent) were still in symptom remission, while only 10 (26 percent) of the placebo patients remained symptom-free for the entire duration of the study.3 The researchers concluded that fish-oil supplements could help improve remission time for symptoms of Crohn’s disease, provided that the capsules contain an enteric coating to reduce unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.
An interesting 2002 article in the Journal of Vertebral Sublaxation Research examined the possible connection between spinal sublaxations, and symptom remission and alleviation in patients with both Crohn’s disease and allergies.4 From a group of 51 patients, 17 were assigned to receive spinal adjustments in the thoracic and lumber regions, while the other 34 did not get adjusted.
Of those patients who received adjustments, 12 had long-term, stable symptom remission periods. Furthermore, nine of those 12 patients reported symptom alleviation. The researchers concluded that adjustments to the region of the eighth to 10th thoracic vertebrae, which relate to the adrenal glands, seemed to be the most effective in treating symptoms of Crohn’s disease.4
As with many other chronic, autoimmune conditions, the goal
in treating Crohn’s disease is to focus on symptom remission, rather than cure.
Fortunately, spinal adjustments, and proper vitamins and supplements, can help
your patients keep their symptoms under control.
- Kappelman MD, Moore KR, Allen JK, Cook SF. Recent trends in
the prevalence of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in a commercially
insured U.S. population. Digestive
Diseases and Sciences. 2013;58:519-525.
- Molodecky NA, Soon IS, Rabi DM, et al. Increasing incidence and
prevalence of the inflammatory bowel diseases with time, based on systematic
review. Gastroenterology. 2012;142(1):46-54.
A, Corrado B, Campieri M, et al. Effect of an
enteric-coated fish-oil preparation on relapses in Crohn’s disease. NEJM.
Y, Arai S, Touichi H. Long
term remission and alleviation of symptoms in allergy and Crohn’s disease
patients following spinal adjustment for reduction of vertebral sublaxations.
Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. 2002;4(4):131-141.