Q. I developed severe gastritis, nausea, and heartburn after a chiropractic massage. Please help.

Answered by
Dr. Ajeet Kumar Lohana
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 30, 2020 and last reviewed on: Jan 30, 2021

Hello doctor,

Can chiropractic massages cause stomach issues? I was squeezed around the ribs by a friend of mine 10 years ago, and ever since then, I have developed stomach issues as far as excessive gas, nausea, and heartburn. I recently moved to other places with my partner, and I started seeing a chiropractor, and I felt fine, but one day I pulled something and wanted to go to my original chiropractor that I first started, but he was way booked. So, I decided to see a different one, and I went to see him in the beginning of this month. Four to five days after my last adjustment with the second chiropractor, I developed even severe gastric problems like severe nausea to the point where I start dry heaving, and then I have indigestion. Every time I eat something I get excessive gas and heartburn and I am worried about. My symptoms have been going on for two weeks now. Am I adjusted wrong, and also is it fixable?



Welcome to

I can understand your problem and the reason for your anxiety. Well, the symptoms you mention seem to be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). And this needs to be treated with some medications and not only with chiropractor treatment.

Well, I do not think that it is because of the pressure or force given ten years back. It is possible that you might have developed symptoms, and that is possibly coincidental and by chance. The symptoms of GERD can remain for many years before they are diagnosed or treated accordingly.

I suggest you take capsule Esomeprazole 40 mg once daily half an hour before breakfast. Take this for two weeks now and monitor your symptoms like a number of episodes in a week, each episode's timing (duration), and predominant symptoms such as heartburn, stomach pain, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting. Please share with me this monitoring chart at the end of the week.

I will then decide what treatment adjustments can be done and titrate the dose at a minimum, which can control your symptoms without posing unnecessary side effects of the drugs.

Thank you doctor,

Well, just for clarification, can a chiropractor cause the problems that I am experiencing by adjusting my back, making my systems worse, and is it fair and safe to go to a chiropractor?



Welcome back to

No, I do not think GERD, or a chiropractor can manipulate its intensity. However, bad posturing while performing this treatment can affect the reflux symptoms and cause some worsening of the symptoms.

To exemplify, the person with GERD can have worsening of heartburn, acid reflux in the mouth, or even nausea and vomiting when they bend for exercise or otherwise. The acid in the stomach tends to trickle in the food pipe (esophagus). Any activity or exercise, particularly bending on a full stomach, tends to bring GERD symptoms.

The chiropractor usually works on muscles of the back or any part of the body, and so you can go to them if you have muscle problems, not just for the treatment of this nausea, acid reflux, and stomach pain.

I suggest you start using the medication I have prescribed you and see if it improves your symptoms.

Thank you doctor,

I also have an umbilical hernia where multiple doctors put a lot of pressure on my stomach. Do you think it could have made that worse and cause my symptoms?



Welcome back to

No, hernia usually protrudes or increases in size due to sustained intraabdominal pressure, not pressure from outside of the stomach. Common examples of raised intraabdominal pressure are coughing, doing Valsalva, constipation, and straining at stools.

If your hernia is not causing pain, then you can ignore it. I will not cause you a problem in your lifetime unless grossly increased in size. Small hernias of this size can go without complications for a lifetime without causing any trouble.

Thank you doctor,

I mean, it has gotten tender to the touch sometimes, but not all the time. Is that normal, and also does it look normal to you? And should I not be concerned about it? Because I do not want my intestines pinched off cause of the doctors putting pressure on my stomach examining me.



Welcome back to

No, it does not seem concerning. You should not be worried about this. Most doctors are gentle while performing an abdominal examination. Since some degree of discomfort is common while pressing the small bowels while performing an abdominal examination.

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