Health Matters

Could your back issues be bowel issues?


This article was inspired by a number of recent clients seen at the clinic with back pain that did not respond well to normal muscle elongation therapy. Although scans showed vertebral and discal issues, which may have been the source of these patients’ pain, client history in each case were also positive for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and they were conventionally medicated for IBD.

IBD includes two separate but similar diseases – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. One could ask whether the patient’s back pain might be due to

  1. IBD related inflammation
  2. Or more conventional vertebral/discal issues plus resultant nerve pain and muscle spasm?

The short answer is it could be one, the other, or both.

Let’s look at what the science says about IBD and inflammatory-back-pain. IBD is common in western countries. In Australia more than 80,000 people live with IBD, 60% aged under 40. In the USA about 3.1 million adults have IBD.

A 2019 study by Stens et. al. states associations between ‘ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease’… spinal-pain, and ‘inflammatory back pain are well described’, with ‘chronic’ back pain … seen in ‘almost 25% of people’ with IBD.

Why? Well possibly because anatomically, the bowel is situated very close to the lumbar-back-vertebrae, their muscles and other connective tissues. In some IBD sufferers, the inflammatory processes in the bowel seem to “spill-over” into neighbouring tissues of the back.

Since not all people with IBD have chronic back-pain, any back-pain experienced by IBD patients might primarily be due to their specific combination of spinal-structural-issues, and/or any associated muscle spasms, inflammation and nerve-pain, with these symptoms originating from and being limited to the nerves, muscles and connective tissue of the lower back, plus any areas serviced by affected nerves (think sciatica). If this is the case 2-3 sessions of muscle elongation therapy should result in significant reduction in:

  1. back pain and paraesthesias*,
  2. restriction of movement

*Note: paraesthesias include things such as altered feeling, tingling, pins & needles, numbness, etc

In patients where IBD-related-inflammation is causing the majority of their back pain, progress with respect to symptom reduction and functional improvement will usually be minor at this stage. For these patients one option would be to enact dietary change.

‘The literature suggests an association of diet and nutrients as a potential risk factor of IBD’, A recent intervention study concluded that adopting the Mediterranean diet led to

  1. ‘A significant reduction of malnutrition-related parameters and liver steatosis’…in both ‘Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients‘, and
  2. ‘spontaneous improvement of disease activity and inflammatory markers’ in participants.

Once IBD related inflammatory processes have calmed, a patient’s spinal-symptoms may reduce, making any non-IBD related symptoms much more amenable to treatment with regular muscle elongation therapy. If you have IBD or related back pain, why not call us at the clinic to discuss dietary intervention.


Article Written + Submitted by:

Andreas Klein Nutritionist + Remedial Therapist from Beautiful Health + Wellness
P: 0418 166 269

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