Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception
Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception

Dr Katie Willy - Osteopath

Did you know Osteopaths treat areas related to gastric reflux (heartburn)?

Heartburn treatment could potentially reduce your symptoms.

This is pretty new info to most people looking for gastric reflux treatment.

It’s actually been studied and shown to make difference (references below).

Heartburn makes sense when we explain the anatomy, so read on.

And given the information on reflux medication, People taking heartburn drugs could have higher risk of death, study claims, a treatment alternative may be a good option for you to try out.

The diaphragm’s job.

Many people don’t realise that the diaphragm is a massive muscle.

When you breathe in the domed diaphragm muscle contracts and moves downwards to a flat sheet-like position.

This lowers air pressure in the rib cage (the region in which the lungs sit) so air rushesin from outside the body, via the nose and mouth, and fills the lungs. Breathing out is obviously the opposite movement forcing air back out of the lungs with the diaphragm re-shaping into it’s domed position.

Diaphragm | Breathing Issue |Osteopath | Balwyn
The diaphragm is a muscle shaped like a dome or parachute.

What does the diaphragm have to do with heartburn??

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, Oesophagus, that we are interested in with reflux.

The diaphragm can become tight just like any other muscle. This can squeeze the tubes, just like how your hand can squeeze a tube of toothpaste. This can cause acid from your stomach to be pushed up into your oesophagus, creating the experience known as “HEARTBURN”.

Demonstration of gastric reflux | Osteopathy | Bulleen

So now we know what happens, how might an Osteo help heartburn??

It’s not only the diaphragm we’re interested in when treating the body for reflux.  It’s also about all the bones the diaphragm attaches to and the muscles in that area too.  You potentially have a domino effect occurring from one part of your body (usually the ribcage and spine) and ending with diaphragm tension causing reflux.

So we look at:

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

Now then, what if you had this treated? 

What if we loosened up your back, gave some easy breathing tips to learn how to engage your diaphragm and were taught strategies to stay looser in these areas that you can do at home?

Maybe you wouldn’t have to take as much medication?  Maybe none? Who knows until you try.

Osteopathic treatment involves releasing tension in these muscle and joint restrictions with our usual mobilising and freeing techniques. As mentioned, our treatment will focus on the structures that interact with the diaphragm and stomach.

AND we can teach you how to get a mobile rib-cage and spine with 1 simple exercise.

Osteopaths treat more than you think…including gastric reflux!

Katie Willy | Osteopathy | Craniosacral | Anatomy in Motion | Kew

How else might you help your heartburn in the meantime?

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 gastric reflux:

  1. Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals
  2. Avoiding any foods you know trigger heartburn
  3. Avoiding lying down soon after a meal
  4. Losing weight, if you are overweight
  5. 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

Contact Info

Phone : 03 9859 5059

Shop 3/74 Doncaster Road, Balwyn North 3104

The Village – Balwyn North