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When you think of physical therapy, what are the first few things that pop in your head?

You might think of stretching, exercising, massage therapy? You might think of areas of the body like your neck, or your knee…
But did you know that physical therapy can also treat digestive conditions?
This may surprise you, but physical therapy can also be used to treat certain digestive issues.
The first stop should be a gastroenterologist, but if you have any of the following issues, PT can actually help:

IBS or “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”
A common symptom people with IBS experience is constipation. Constipation is also a symptom of an overly active pelvic floor (the muscles are contracted, too tight, won’t let bowels out). There are certain massage techniques therapists can do to get your pelvic floor muscles to relax, as well as breathing techniques that can help you to relax the muscles of the pelvic floor, leading to easier and more comfortable bowel movements.

Abdominal Distention
Abdominal Distention, better known as “bloating”, is a common symptom many of us experience throughout our lives. For those who have more consistent bloating, the expansion of the stomach can occur mistakenly causing the stomach to contract, rather than expand. Physical therapists can help you combat feelings of bloat with biofeedback techniques, like attaching electrical sensors (TENS unit) to your body.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO occurs when the valves of the small intestine don’t work, or oftentimes after a surgery. It causes bacteria to build up, which could lead to many other issues. Physical therapists can manipulate the body through massage treatment to “wake up” the small intestine so that everything may flow properly.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
More commonly referred to as “Acid reflux”, this occurs when a portion of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm. This causes the esophagus to have a little leak, which allows esophagus stomach acid to move around the throat more freely – this is what causes that burning sensation in the throat. Most people can experience acid reflux when they ingest more acidic foods like spicy food, tomato based food, etc. A PT can treat the body through massage techniques to help reposition the stomach within the body to reduce or potentially eliminate that excess acid.

While physical therapy is mainly associated with injuries, accidents, or joint pain, it can certainly be good for ailments on the inside as well!