IBS is one of the most common types of gastrointestinal disorders with around 1 in 5 people in the western world reporting symptoms concurrent with IBS. IBS can be subtyped according to the changes in stool pattern which is one of the main signs and symptoms of IBS being present.
IBS can present with constipation (IBS-C), diarrhea (IBS-D), mixed stools (IBS-M) and un-subtyped IBS where there is insufficient abnormality in the stool consistency, but other IBS symptoms are present. Bloating, pain and gas are often also reported.
IBS also has several non-gastrointestinal features which include painful menstrual cycles, urinary symptoms such as frequency, urgency, incomplete bladder emptying; back pain, headaches, bad breath, poor sleep and fatigue.
It is believed that the biopsychosocial model is particularly relevant to IBS and its causes. Triggers of IBS that fall into this category include depression, anxiety, stress and trauma.
Past antibiotic therapy, gastrointestinal infection, pelvic surgery and eating disorders are also associated triggers. Dysfunction in the brain-gut axis is also thought to be a cause of IBS whereby communications between the CNS and enteric nervous system are disrupted perhaps due to abnormal function or low levels of serotonin.
How can sports massage help?
Massage has been found to be a beneficial tool in the treatment of IBS for two reasons. Firstly, massage around the abdominal area can help to stimulate digestion, expel painful trapped gas from the intestines and soothe pain. It is important that massage on the abdominal area is only used in cases of IBS C as in IBS D, digestion is already at an increased rate.
Massage can also help patients with IBS by promoting relaxation, reducing spasms and managing stress and anxiety - one of the key mediators of development of IBS. In this case, regular whole patient massage would be recommended as a preventative measure to reduce the chance of development of symptoms by managing daily stress.
Clinical Medicine, 9th Edition