There are different possible causes of abdominal pain and digestive problems. Sometimes a bulging disc is the cause. A bulging disc that is causing abdominal pain is rare but possible. When this happens, it’s usually a herniated disc in the upper back, known as the thoracic spine. When the disc bulges to the side, it can cause abdominal pain. One study found that half of the patients presenting with herniated discs also suffered from digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome.
The thoracic spine is the region between the base of the neck and the low back. This section is surrounded and stabilized by the ribcage, reducing the risk of disc herniation. Most herniated disc/s occur in the low back or the neck because those areas with a lot of movement are less stable than the thoracic spine. But they do happen and can contribute and/or cause abdominal pain. This is usually accompanied by pain in the mid-back and the chest. Because this is rare, physicians don’t immediately think that a herniation is causing abdominal pain. This can lead to unnecessary and expensive tests to find the problem.
This is not the most common type of disc herniation. The type of herniation that causes pain in the abdomen is known as lateral disc herniation. This is when the disc bulges laterally/sideways. What happens is it can compress and irritate the nerve root. This is what can cause pain in the abdomen. Types of disc herniations include:
Most thoracic herniations are caused by trauma to the upper back. This can come from a:
Movements like reaching up to get something or twisting motions like putting on a seatbelt can cause the pain to worsen. Most thoracic herniations happen in young individuals brought on by trauma to the area. Women tend to be affected more by thoracic disc herniation that causes abdominal pain.
Bloating often comes with digestive problems. A herniated discs can also cause bloating along with abdominal and back pain. However, they are not always related because bloating, and other digestive issues can cause back and abdominal pain. Bloating and pain typically go away after a bowel movement. But it is important to see a medical professional if the problem lasts more than a few days.
In certain cases, a herniated disc can cause gas. This is rare, but evidence suggests that nerve compression in the spine can affect the digestive system. If back pain, abdominal pain, and digestive issues are presenting, seeking out treatment is recommended.
Chiropractors specialize in spinal care. The approach is to balance the entire body and heal the underlying issues. The nervous system travels through the spinal column. If injured or damaged, it can cause all kinds of issues. This includes abdominal pain and digestive problems. A chiropractor will:
They are different techniques to treat disc herniations. These include:
A common and powerful trigger of binge eating is restrictive dieting. This type of diet is a common weight-loss method for short-term goals. This is because a highly controlled program of calorie intake makes it easier to prevent overeating. The problem is that this type of restriction is not sustainable. Most individuals can avoid certain foods for only so long. However, this is not the only reason for binge eating. Many individuals use food as an emotional suppressor. They overeat during:
The brain and body are conditioned to crave certain and usually addictive foods. When individuals want to get their minds off of something, cravings can activate and become overpowering. Although it is not an addiction to alcohol or drugs, food addiction is still an addiction. Working through addictive behavior toward any substance will improve the quality of life. Overcoming food addiction promotes physical health benefits and improved mental health. Recognizing addictive behaviors when it comes to food is the first step.
Al-Khawaja, Darweesh O et al. “Surgical treatment of far lateral lumbar disc herniation: a safe and simple approach.” Journal of spine surgery (Hong Kong) vol. 2,1 (2016): 21-4. doi:10.21037/jss.2016.01.05
Lara, F J Pérez et al. “Thoracic disk herniation, a not infrequent cause of chronic abdominal pain.” International surgery vol. 97,1 (2012): 27-33. doi:10.9738/CC98.1
Papadakos, Nikolaos et al. “Thoracic disc prolapse presenting with abdominal pain: case report and review of the literature.” Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England vol. 91,5 (2009): W4-6. doi:10.1308/147870809X401038
Polivy, J et al. “Food restriction and binge eating: a study of former prisoners of war.” Journal of abnormal psychology vol. 103,2 (1994): 409-11. doi:10.1037//0021-843x.103.2.409
The information herein on "Bulging, Herniated Discs and Digestive Problems" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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