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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 47-49

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome somatic comorbidities by osteopathic approach

1 Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Maharishi Markandeshwar University, Mullana, Ambala, Haryana, India
2 Department of Surgery, Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Mullana, Ambala, Haryana, India
3 Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Mullana, Ambala, Haryana, India
4 Department of Physiotherapy, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India
5 Department of Radiology, Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Maharishi Markandeshwar University, Mullana, Ambala, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication8-Sep-2016

Correspondence Address:
R Singal
Department of Surgery, Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Mullana, Ambala - 133 203, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1596-4078.190042

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic continuous or intermittent gastrointestinal tract dysfunction encountered by the health professionals. IBS patients are afflicted with intestinal and extraintestinal somatic morbidities. The aim of the present case study was to explore the effect of osteopathic treatment (OT) on somatic comorbidities in IBS patients. The author reported a 43-year-old female case who presented with a headache, abdominal pain, pain in the one-half of the body, lower back pain, increased the frequency of stool passage in a day, with alternating diarrhea or constipation, bloating; with few occasions of nausea and vomiting. The patient had history of 3-year-old hysterectomy and with no other relevant medical history. On endoscopic, colonoscopy, and blood investigations, no abnormality was detected. In this case, the osteopathic diagnosis was made as visceral somatic dysfunction and the OT made the remarkable difference in the patient symptoms as assessed by bowel symptom scale.

Keywords: Bowel symptom scale, irritable bowel syndrome, osteopathy, somatization, visceral osteopathy

How to cite this article:
Goyal M, Goyal K, Singal R, Sharma S, Arumugam N, Mittal A. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome somatic comorbidities by osteopathic approach. Niger J Health Sci 2016;16:47-9

How to cite this URL:
Goyal M, Goyal K, Singal R, Sharma S, Arumugam N, Mittal A. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome somatic comorbidities by osteopathic approach. Niger J Health Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Sep 29];16:47-9. Available from: http://www.https://chs-journal.com//text.asp?2016/16/1/47/190042

  Introduction Top

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic continuous functional gastrointestinal tract (GIT) illness typically characterized as disturbed intestinal motility due to unknown anatomical and pathological reason. [1] The onset of IBS occurs before the age of 50 years [2] and occurs more frequently in women, at a women: Men ratio 2:1-4:1. [3] Patients with IBS often have at least one co-morbid somatic complaint such as depression, anxiety and somatization, greater impairment of quality of life, and more illness related work absenteeism. [4] The disease is diagnosed using the Rome Committee III. [5] The Rome criteria state that abdominal pain (AP) should be continuous or recurrent for duration of at least 3 months. AP should be relieved by defecation or associated by changed frequency of stool. These symptoms should be associated with other symptoms such as bloating and passage of mucus. The pathophysiology of the IBS is still unclear, but it appears due to "brain - gut axis" dysregulation. [6] The central nervous system and sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) control the enteric nervous system (ENS). Disturbances in the SNS, PNS, and ENS have been found in the IBS patients. [7] The signs and symptoms of the functional GIT disorder should be focused on to rule out the red flags for IBS, before make visceral somatic dysfunction as diagnosis for IBS confirmed by tenderness, asymmetry, restriction, and tissue texture changes on manual palpation. There are various treatment approaches (pharmaceuticals, dietary modifications, psychotherapy, and Chinese herbal medicines) used to treat IBS; but still there is a scarcity of the effective treatment approach.

The bowel symptom scale (BSS) was used to monitor the progression of the treatment throughout the study. The validity and test - retest reliability of BSS in IBS patients is proven. [8] It consists of 100 mm visual analog scale for pain/discomfort, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea; overall severity scale; items for rating stool passage; items for rating quality of life; recording changes in medication usage and fiber consumption.

  Case Report Top

A 43-year-old female, who works as a housewife, presented with IBS. Her main complaint was AP in the left upper and lower quadrant, increased frequency of the stool passage (7-8 times/day). The pain was described as dull ache stretch type of feeling. She experienced nausea, headache, and bloating intermittently. Constipation and discomfort in the epigastric region were the other disturbing symptoms experienced by her. She had also described the feeling of tiredness throughout the day. The patient had 3-year-old past surgical history of hysterectomy because of fibroid uterus.

She underwent multiple investigations such as endoscopy, colonoscopy, and blood tests, but no abnormality was detected. The patient was diagnosed with IBS by the gastroenterologist. Patient had been treated by proton pump inhibitors, anti-depressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the last 3 years, but had no relief leading to the stressful life. No factors were found to relieve her symptoms.

On presentation, her blood pressure was 130/86 and pulse was 82 beats/min. Physical examination showed a healthy female weighing 85 kg. On osteopathic assessment, through the global listening the motion restriction was found in the left upper and lower abdominal quadrants respectively, upper cervical spine and upper lumbar spine. The tenderness was present in the left iliac fossa and at the sacrum base. Hypertonicity was found at left psoas muscle, thoracic and lumbar erector spinae muscles respectively, sub occipital muscle. The remainder of the assessment was normal and no other abnormality was detected.

The osteopathic treatment (OT) plan was made for 2 sessions per week for 4 weeks. During the first session, the patient underwent osteopathic manipulative approach, consisting of all the major diaphragms' release namely pelvic diaphragm, abdominal diaphragm, thoracic outlet release, and hyoid diaphragm release, respectively [Figure 1]. During the 2 nd session, the gastro-esophageal junction release, sigmoid colon release, cranial therapy to the occiput, and sacral release was incorporated. The hypertonic muscles were released and the home exercise regimen (flexibility exercises) was advised to the patient. Patient was also advised to take adequate fiber intake and fluid consumption in her diet.
Figure 1: Major diaphragms' release. (a) Hyoid bone diaphragm release, (b) thoracic outlet release, (c) abdominal diaphragm release, (d) pelvic diaphragm release

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On the following consultation, it was found that the patient got some relief in the individual symptoms and the overall severity of the IBS had also reduced as measured by BSS [Table 1].
Table 1: The bowel symptom scale score of the patient irritable bowel syndrome severity throughout the study

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  Discussion Top

The main purpose of this case report was to explore the effect of OT on somatic comorbidities in IBS patients. The osteopathic philosophy stated that the structure and function within the human body is interrelated. The osteopathy approach provokes the body internal mechanisms to heal itself by the use of human hands. [9] The OT centers on the nervous system, the circulatory system, the spine, the viscera, and the thoracic and pelvic diaphragms. Using osteopathy, the autonomic tone of the intestine was normalized, along with addressing the various somatic dysfunctions associated with it. [10]

The results of the OT on completion showed the marked improvement in the patients overall IBS severity and also on the pain. This may be attributed to the regulation of the sympathetic tone and parasympathetic tone of the intestine by pelvic diaphragm release, psoas release and sigmoid colon release (pelvic splanchnic nerves S2, 3, 4 that innervates the sigmoid colon) [11] and articulation to the upper lumbar spine (sympathetic innervations T4 - L2 via the collateral sympathetic ganglia). [12] The treatment of the cranial base and the sub occipital muscle tightness had released the tension on the vagus nerve (parasympathetic innervations to small intestine, colon, and upper GIT) at the jugular foramen.

The normalization of the autonomic tone by the osteopathic manipulation approach was consistent with the historical understanding of the somato - visceral concept. [13] The OT approach also minimized the nausea and vomiting by inducing cannabimetic effects. [14]

The case study had not addressed the chronic nature of the condition and also the short period of treatment sessions were provided to the patient. This study had explored the osteopathic approach in IBS up to some extent. In the future research, the randomized controlled trials is supposed to be conducted to explore the OT in IBS to the full extent.

  Conclusion Top

The osteopathy approach provides help in IBS patients but its efficacy is still not known. In the treatment regimen of IBS, the osteopathy should be incorporated to yield better outcomes to the patient.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Choung RS, Locke GR 3 rd . Epidemiology of IBS. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 2011;40:1-10.  Back to cited text no. 1
Maxwell PR, Mendall MA, Kumar D. Irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet 1997;350:1691-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Drossman DA, Li Z, Andruzzi E, Temple RD, Talley NJ, Thompson WG, et al. U.S. householder survey of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Prevalence, sociodemography, and health impact. Dig Dis Sci 1993;38:1569-80.  Back to cited text no. 3
Riedl A, Schmidtmann M, Stengel A, Goebel M, Wisser AS, Klapp BF, et al. Somatic comorbidities of irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic analysis. J Psychosom Res 2008;64:573-82.  Back to cited text no. 4
Drossman DA, Corazziari E, Delvaux M, Spiller R, Talley NJ, Thompson WG, et al. Rome III: The Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. 3 rd ed. McLean: Degnon Associates; 2006. p. 885-93.  Back to cited text no. 5
Collebrusco L, Lombardini R. Osteopathic manipulative treatment and nutrition: An alternative approach to the irritable bowel syndrome. Health 2013;5:87-93.  Back to cited text no. 6
Kennedy PJ, Clarke G, Quigley EM, Groeger JA, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Gut memories: Towards a cognitive neurobiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2012;36:310-40.  Back to cited text no. 7
Bensoussan A, Talley NJ, Hing M, Menzies R, Guo A, Ngu M. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Chinese herbal medicine: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 1998;280:1585-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
Branyon B. Healing hands: Using osteopathic manipulative treatment to address visceral structures through somatovisceral reflexes: A case study in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am Acad Osteopath J 2008;18:29-31.  Back to cited text no. 9
Kuchera ML, Kuchera WA. Osteopathic Considerations in Systemic Dysfunction. 2 nd ed. USA: Williams & Wilkins; 1996.  Back to cited text no. 10
Moore KL, Dalley AF. Clinically Oriented Anatomy. 4 th ed. Philidelphia: Lippincott William & Wilkins; 1999.  Back to cited text no. 11
Greenman PE. Principles of Manual Medicine. 2 nd ed. USA: Williams & Wilkins; 1996.  Back to cited text no. 12
Van Buskirk RL. Nociceptive reflexes and the somatic dysfunction: A model. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1990;90:792-4, 797-809.  Back to cited text no. 13
McPartland JM, Giuffrida A, King J, Skinner E, Scotter J, Musty RE. Cannabimimetic effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2005;105:283-91.  Back to cited text no. 14


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1]


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