Most of us in the Chico and Redding Areas of California know that the human body is a complex matrix of interconnected systems. You’re probably familiar with the names of many of the body’s systems such as the circulatory, nervous, digestion, and musculoskeletal systems. However, what most of us don’t realize is how these systems interact to maintain optimal health, or how many aches and pains we have that may be related to the food we eat. Thats why many patients have asked can stomach problems cause back pain, or can bowel problem cause back pain.
Unfortunately, the established medical approach tends to view us as parts, and parts of parts. We see specialists who give medications that have side effects that harm the organs and systems that other specialists treat. You may see a specialist about your headache, and he or she prescribes a medication that may irritate your stomach, create ulcers, constipate you, and/or damage the liver. If we fail to approach the body as a whole, we disrupt it’s own natural regulation processes. What may be helpful for relieving back pain or headaches may not be good for the stomach, liver, and kidneys.
Why not consider an integrated approach that includes all of the whole body’s systems without the side effects of medications?
A tension headache for example can result from a number of systems that are not functioning properly. Tension headaches are often caused by muscle contractions in the neck, which misalign the bones of the neck. When the bones in the neck become misaligned, the nerves that give us sensation to the head become irritated, and we feel pain.
The digestion system plays a role in tension headaches, as well. Excessive amounts of simple sugars, or poor carbohydrate digestion create a mineral imbalance that causes the muscles in the neck to contract and the nerves become more sensitive. This eventually pushes the body into the flight or fight mode, and we become tense, irritable and edgy, and our head aches. That’s why headache and migraine relief may start in your gut.
When we have a problem such as a tension headache, we often focus on the symptom and forget that we are collection of interconnected systems. We may be focusing our attention on our headache or back pain, but the real source of our pain may be coming from an organ or system that is stressed, or in need of nutrients.
Here’s another example. Some people frequently experience pain between the shoulder blades. They may even go to a chiropractor frequently to have this part of their spine adjusted, but the pain keeps coming back. If the skeletal system were the only system in your body, adjusting the spine would be the prefect solution, but the body is much more complex than that.
Because the nerves that exit the spine in the mid-back interconnect with other organs, the body needs to be evaluated and treated from a systems perspective. Pain between the shoulder blades can actually be coming from the esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, small intestine or liver. Just ask anyone who has had a gallbladder attack to verify this for you.
A third example of approaching the body from a systems perspective would be lower back pain and digestive problems. Did you know that up to a third of the people I see in my practice experiencing chronic low back pain have back pain because their kidneys are stressed from incomplete digestion? And because the nerves that exit from the lower back go to the small intestine and colon, it’s quite common to see lower back pain with indigestion. Lower back pain and digestive problems often accompany each other.
Other people may experience low back pain as a result of bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome. This is because the nerves that go to and from the bowel originate in the lumbar spine. These same nerves also go to the muscles and ligaments that stabilize the lower back. When the bowel is stressed, the muscles that share the same nerve root will contract and cause pain.
Your lower back pain may not be caused by a misaligned vertebrae or disc problem. Now that’s an uncommon viewpoint coming from a chiropractor!