Most people know that Osteos treat injuries such as back pain and headaches, BUT we also can help other conditions that often spring up in general conversation – for instance, GASTRIC REFLUX (also known as HEARTBURN).

Unexpected?? It makes a lot of sense when we explain the anatomy. It’s even been studied and shown to make difference (references below).

And given the recent news on reflux medication, People taking heartburn drugs could have higher risk of death, study claims, a treatment alternative may be just what you need.

The diaphragm’s job.Gastric Reflux

Many people don’t realise that the diaphragm is a massive muscle. When you breathe in the diaphragm muscle contracts and this causes it to move downwards, its previously upwardly curving shape (see picture) becomes flatter. This lowers the air pressure in the rib cage (the region in which the lungs sit). As a result, air rushes in from outside the body, via the nose and mouth, and fills the lungs with air allowing us to breathe. Breathing out is obviously the opposite movement forcing air back out of the lungs.

What does this have to do with REFLUX??

The position of your diaphragm with spine and rib attachments

There are 3 circular openings through the diaphragm to allow for the passage of 3 tubes:

  1. Aorta – our biggest artery, for the passage of blood from the heart to the abdomen, pelvis and legs
  2. Inferior vena cava – a massive vein…for the passage of blood back to the heart from the abdomen, pelvis and legs
  3. Oesophagus – allows the passage of food from the mouth to the stomach

It is this 3rd opening that we are interested in with reflux. The diaphragm can become tight just like any other muscle. This squeezes the tubes especially the oesophagus and can cause acid from your stomach to be pushed up into your oesophagus, creating the experience known as “HEARTBURN”.

So now we know what happens, how can your Osteo help??

It’s not only the diaphragm we are intersted in when treating reflux, we also find:

  • rib cage tension
  • tight mid back muscles
  • tenderness over the breastbone
  • often sufferers cannot take a deep breath in

Osteopathic treatment involves releasing tension in these muscle and joint restrictions with our usual mobilising and freeing techniques. Our treatment, focusing on the structures that interact with the diaphragm and stomach, can mean sufferers require less or no medication for their heartburn!

AND we can teach you how to get a mobile rib-cage and spine with 1 simple exercise you can do at home!

Osteopaths treat more than you think!

Call us on 9859 5059 or book online HERE

How else can you help yourself?

Avoid the following:

  • large meals
  • fatty or spicy foods
  • coffee and cola drinks
  • citrus foods
  • alcohol
  • chocolate
  • cigarettes
  • peppermints

Looking after yourself, these lifestyle changes might help:

  • eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals
  • avoiding any foods you know trigger heartburn
  • avoiding lying down soon after a meal
  • losing weight, if you are overweight
  • stopping smoking, if you smoke.


  1. R.C.V da Silva et al, Increase of lower esophageal sphincter pressure after osteopathic intervention on the diaphragm in patients with gastroesophageal reflux, Dis Esophagus (2013) 26 (5): 451-456
  2. Kjell E. Bjørnæs et al, Does Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) have an Effect in the Treatment of Patients Suffering from Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)? Int J Clin Pharmacol Pharmacother 2016, 1: 116

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