The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published the results of a case study on November 2, 2020, documenting the recovery of an elderly man who was suffering with hyper frequent nightly bowel movements being helped by chiropractic.
The study begins by noting that there are many different types of bowel issues that all fall under the general category of “functional gastrointestinal disorders” (FGID). These include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis. In many of these conditions, no real pathology can be medically found. For this reason, the variety of problems in this group are often chalked up to lifestyle issues or stress.
In this case, a 98-year-old man presented himself to a chiropractic office for help with his frequent nighttime bowel movements. He reported that he would have to get out of bed 8-9 times each night to have a bowel movement. The problem would begin about an hour after he retired to his bed. This problem seemed to be progressively getting worse over the past two years. He reports, however, that he does not have this issue during the day. He also noted that he has not had any falls or injuries associated with this problem. He felt he was under moderate stress.
A chiropractic examination was performed that involved a spinal and postural analysis, thermal scans, as well as spinal x-rays. The findings showed multiple postural anomalies and spinal degeneration was seen on the x-rays. From these findings, a plan for specific chiropractic care that was age appropriate was started.
The study recorded that after one month of care, the elderly man reported resolution of his abnormally occurring nighttime frequent bowel movements. After a year of care, a re-examination was performed with x-rays. Most of the objective findings had improved including the thermal scans. The neck x-rays, however, showed a continued progression of spinal disc degeneration in the man’s neck. This one x-ray finding did not negatively detract from the other improved finding of the examination, or from the man’s symptomatic improvement.
In the study discussion area, the authors describe in detail how the nervous system has an effect on the digestive tract and bowels. They cite numerous studies and research that show the connection of how chiropractic’s positive effect on the nerve system could have a positive effect on bowel function.
In their conclusion the authors note, “In conclusion, this case study shows improvement in reducing the frequency of a patients IBD with chiropractic care.” They recommend a larger study be done to help understand the effect of chiropractic on this issue. “A larger sample size, with random control trials with subsequent systematic reviews would be the optimal model for future research studies in order to determine if chiropractic management would be an effective treatment for a condition such as nocturnal overactive bowel movements.”