Gut problems and symptoms have become a way of life for many. Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas and even low back pain are all signs that the gut and gastrointestinal system are in need of a tune up. With chiropractic care and Applied Kinesiology, we would expect gut problems to include weaknesses in the psoas, quadriceps or tensor fascia lata muscles, leading to pain in the lower back and extremities. One part of the gastrointestinal system that may lead to gut issues is the Ileocecal Valve.
What is the Ileocecal Valve?
The Ileocecal Valve is located between the ileum (last portion of your small intestine) and the cecum or ascending colon (first portion of your large intestine; the appendix lays just below it). Its function is to allow digested food materials to pass from the small intestine into your large intestine. The ileocecal valve also blocks these waste materials from backing back up into your small intestine. It is intended to be a one-way valve, only opening up to allow the digested material to pass through and then closing to prevent the fecal contents from “falling” back into the small intestine. When the small intestine and large intestine are not active in the process of digestion or stool production, the valve is relaxed, neither open or closed.
Ileocecal Valve Dysfunction
In Ileocecal valve dysfunction (ICV), the valve becomes inflamed and stuck open. This may cause a condition known as SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). With SIBO, the contents and bacteria in the large intestine get into the small intestine and upper GI tract leading to many systemic issues. These waste materials get absorbed into the body creating unhealthy toxins circulating around the body. Inflammation, pain in the neck, low back and shoulders, digestive complaints, and headaches are all possible symptoms of ICV dysfunction.
ICV dysfunction is typically overlooked by the medical community but can result in many symptoms:
- Low back pain
- Lumbar disc issues and sharp pain
- Sinus problems
- TMJ dysfunction
- Joint pain
Causes of ICV dysfunction include:
- Food allergens (including certain grains, chocolate, popcorn and roughage in the diet)
- Alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods
- Low HCL in the stomach due to taking antacids and symptoms of GERD, allowing bacteria to not be neutralized properly leading to chronic inflammation
- Emotional issues
- TMJ disorders
ICV Dysfunction Treatment Options
Treatment options for ICV dysfunction include visceral manipulation of the valve, chiropractic adjusting for specific segments that innervate the valve and small and large intestines, using the Chinese Meridian system, rubbing special points that help bring lymphatic drainage to the valve, emotional work and TMJ work. In addition, special herbs or nutrition can be given to help assist the inflammation or microbial imbalances in the gut. By utilizing the tools of Applied Kinesiology, gut disturbances in general as well as ICV dysfunction can be tackled using the various tools mentioned above.
Dr. Rebecca Sanchez is a chiropractor who specializes in pain management and Applied Kinesiology.