INDIGESTION (abdominal/stomach pain, gas, bloating, belching, colics, etc) has numerous causes (see list). However, little or no attention is given to the possibilty that indigestion may arise from connective tissue distortion due to muscle tension and/or injury (trauma, surgery) anywhere along the spine, the head, or the face.
Indigestion is often experienced during pregnancy as the uterus expands and puts pressure on the stomach, pancreas, liver, and digestive tract.
Muscle tension is transmitted to the joints and bony structures of the body via the connective tissue (fascia, ligaments, tendons, etc), which weaves through, and envelops, every cell, tissue, organ, muscle, and other structures, such as blood and lymph vessels, meridians, and nerves.
Muscle tension, as well as injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones (fractures), or an expanding uterus during pregnancy, distort the connective tissue by twisting, stretching, and/or compressing it. Consequently, the connective tissue shortens and tightens around the structures it envelops. Moreover, it becomes sticky and toughens up, creating a stranglehold around these structures.
Let’s look at the structures involved in digestion:
- muscles of mastication — temporalis, masseter, pterygoids
- temporomandibular joint
- jaw, teeth, tongue
- oral cavity
- salivary glands (produce and secrete saliva that contains digestive enzymes, and has antimicrobial properties –an immune function)
Any trauma to the head may cause distortion to any of these structures. The head and the face bones are connected to each other via sutures (a form of connective tissue) that hold these bones together, sort of like a 3-d puzzle. All the bones can move relative to each other. Thus their relationship can easily become distorted by a hit to the head or face, a fall on the head, or even inflammation or infection of the soft tissue (muscles, connective tissue, skin, glands).
Muscle tension, transmitted via the connective tissue, may shift the head or facial bones as well.
This may result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, misalignment of the upper with the lower jaw (malocclusion), dysfunction of the salivary glands, or fascial distortion of the oral cavity and pharynx.
Head or facial trauma, inflammation, or infection can thus interfere with efficient chewing and adequate saliva production.
These are the structures involved in moving the food from the oral cavity down to the stomach. They consist mostly of smooth muscle and connective tissue (fascia and cartilage).
Distortion of the connective tissue can interfere with the smooth muscle action, and thus with food transport (swallowing).
DIGESTING AND ABSORBING
- stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ilium)
- nerve supply to these organs
- blood supply to these organs (necessary for absorption and distribution of nutrients from food)
These organs, blood vessels, nerves, and lymph vessels, are invested with connective tissue (fascia, mesentery), which is lined with the peritoneum, and holding them in place within the abdominal cavity. Because of their close proximity to the rib cage (front and back) and/or the spine, these organs, blood vessels, and lymph vessels, may sustain injury when these structures are injured.
The peritoneum lines the abdominal cavity. It is a serous membrane attached to a layer of connective tissue.
Furthermore, the stomach, liver, and gall bladder are nestled right beneath the dome of the respiratory diaphragm, which is attached to the lumbar spine.)
The small intestine is held together by the mesentery that takes its origin from the posterior peritoneum as the root of the mesentery.
Imagine the intestine to be the border of a skirt, the cloth of the skirt being the mesentery, and the waist band gathered together to form the root of the mesentery.
Therefore, any distortion of the connective tissue from infection, inflammation, surgery (loss of tissue plus scarring), trauma, or even poor posture, may twist, pull, or squeeze these structures, interfering with blood and nerve supply, as well as the functioning of the organs of digestion.
- large intestine/colon (ascending, transverse, descending (including the sigmoid colon)
- rectum, anus
As with the rest of the body, these structures, along with their blood and nerve supply, are invested with, and held in place by, the connective tissue (fascia, mesentery).
The sigmoid colon, and rectum are located very close to the sacrum and coccyx. Thus, a distortion of the connective tissue from injury (accidental trauma, surgery) to the lower spine, sacrum, and/or coccyx can result in irregular bowel movement, alternating diarrhea and constipation, or constipation alone, as well as hemorrhoids.
Connective tissue distortion within the abdominal cavity from trauma, surgery, infections, inflammation, abdominal tension, and so forth may interfere with smooth muscle contraction (peristalsis) of the large intestine, resulting in delayed emptying (bowel movements, stool), or dysfunctional, erratic muscle contractions, experienced as painful colics.
Craniosacral Therapy helps the body to release the tension and distortion within the connective tissue anywhere in the body, making it the ideal physical therapy modality for indigestion.
Craniosacral Therapy is gentle, helping the body to sink into a state of deep relaxation (parasympathetic state) where the body does its repair to restore its health and balance.
Healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, and physical movement, are of course fundamental to healthy digestion.