Massage Therapy and GERD: A Unique Client Case Study

Massage Therapy and GERD: A Unique Client Case Study

One of the most incredible things about massage therapy is its ability to target and impact such a wide variety of health conditions. We know that massage can help with chronic pain, muscle inflammation, stress, mood disorders, circulation, and much more. In addition to this impressive list however, there are frequent instances where massage therapy surprises even RMTs, by targeting and assisting with the management of a unique or relatively unprecedented condition.

We recently read one such case study. A middle-aged client presented with GERD after years of suffering. Reflux Disease-is a relatively common, if unpleasant condition, where stomach acid flows into the esophagus. This can cause pain, discomfort and in some cases damage to the lining of the esophagus.

Mike Dixon, RMT and author of this case study article, observed that the patient had a noticeably slouched posture. He knew that in order to improve the pressure on the esophagus, he needed to reduce stress to the thoracic spine. Within just the first treatment, Dixon performed deep massage and manipulation of the thoracic verberbra, spine extension, diaphragmatic release, and an abdominal lift procedure. These were his highly apt strategic therapies in interest of a) reducing the client’s hyperkyphosis, or slouchy posture, and b) reducing the downward pull on the abdomen and its contents.


Success! After just one treatment the client’s GERD symptoms, which included sore throat, chest pain and heartburn, were gone. Dixon admits that he was amazed. We know that dramatic client results after only one treatment session are not to be expected. However, after discussing this case with a local chiropractor, he better understood what might account for the incredible outcomes. The patient’s thoracic disc nerves were creating reflex linkages to nerves in the esophageal sphincter, and both groups of nerves trace back to the same area of the spine. By increasing blood flow in the thoracic disc, all if these linked nerve groups were improved.

Why do the nerves behave in this way? The article credits physical stress that takes the form of stomach acid and pressure to the discs from poor posture and immobility. This is just further proof of how connected the systems and symptoms of the body are. And that just means that there’s more experimentation and exploring to be done to discover massage therapy’s power. Dixon continues to practice this method to treat clients who present with GERD to great success. He writes, “Not every case is this amazing but I am finding a trend of improvement in the symptomology of this condition.”

That’s pretty amazing to us!


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