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Chiropractic Blog

Managing Heartburn with Chiropractic Care 

Published Date: 
September 21, 2023
Man with symptoms of heartburn.

Heartburn, even if it’s not a symptom of a severe health problem, interferes with your quality of life. It causes a burning pain in the chest that sometimes travels up to the throat. Heartburn is sometimes related to other digestive conditions, including GERD.

Heartburn occurs when the sphincter in the esophagus fails to control stomach acid. When this muscle relaxes at the wrong time, stomach acid passes into the esophagus, which causes heartburn and other symptoms. 

Occasional heartburn usually isn’t a big deal. Even if it’s uncomfortable, it passes within a few hours or even a few minutes. Unfortunately, some people suffer from chronic heartburn and its related conditions. When acid reflux occurs more frequently, it can affect your quality of life and damage your digestive system.

Causes & Symptoms of Heartburn

Heartburn is caused by stomach acid backing up into your esophagus. Typically, you swallow food, and the sphincter muscle relaxes to let the food pass into your stomach. Once the food is in your stomach, the muscle tightens up again.

Young man with hand on his chest experiencing heartburn.

When you suffer from heartburn, this muscle fails to re-tighten, and stomach acid can pass into your esophagus.

Symptoms of heartburn include: 

  • Burning in the chest after eating
  • Bitter or acidic taste
  • Pain that increases when you bend over or lie down

For many people, the foods they eat affect their risk of developing heartburn. Foods often associated with heartburn include:

Woman looking excitedly at a pizza.
  • Tomatoes and tomato produces
  • Spicy foods
  • Onions
  • Citrus
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • Fatty foods
  • Fried foods
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Caffeine

The risk of heartburn is higher for people who are overweight or pregnant.

What Is the Difference Between Heartburn, Acid Reflux & GERD?

People sometimes use the terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD interchangeably. These issues are related, but there are subtle differences.

Acid reflux is a medical condition. It can range from mild to severe. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. Other symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Bitter or sour taste
  • Burning or pressure in the chest

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s a chronic and more severe form of acid reflux. Heartburn is also a symptom of GERD. It can cause long-term damage to the esophagus and, in extreme cases, esophageal cancer. 

In addition to heartburn, symptoms of GERD include:

GERD is often caused by:

  • Obesity or overweight
  • Smoking
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Pregnancy
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Certain medications, including calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, pain relief medications, antidepressants, and sedatives

You can take prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat these issues, but they don’t work for everyone. There are also side effects and long-term consequences for those managing chronic heartburn issues with medication.

What Can a Chiropractor Do for Acid Reflux?

Chiropractic treatment is one of the most effective options for treating heartburn and acid reflux.

Chiropractor checking the spin of a young male patient.

Chiropractic treatments work to realign the spine. They also eliminate nerve interference and return the body to its most balanced state. Treatments can help with just about any medical condition in general, but it’s especially helpful for treating digestive disorders.

Chiropractic treatment for heartburn and acid reflux include:

  • Adjustments to ease the stress on joints and spine
  • Strengthening the spinal muscles to relieve pressure on the stomach
  • Corrective joint function to ensure proper overall function
  • Weight loss counseling

Ways to Manage Acid Reflux at Home

In addition to chiropractic care, you can also do several things at home to manage acid reflux, including the following:

  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Eliminate or reduce fatty, spicy, and acidic foods
  • Avoid alcohol

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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