Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Using Yoga As A Treatment Option For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

July 28, 2020


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition that is thought to be prevalent in up to 9-23% of the world’s population. It is associated with diarrhea, constipation or both, abdominal pain and bloating, possible urinary symptoms and pelvic pain. Common comorbidities including sleep difficulties, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and TMJ dysfunction can have a significant negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. Due to the number and types of comorbidities associated with IBS, it is important to take a multimodal approach to treatment. Physical therapy treatment options include addressing dietary sensitivities, improving stool consistency with food and fiber, autonomic quieting, exercise, and manual therapy. 

A systematic review by Shumman et al. 2016, investigated the effectiveness for yoga as a treatment option for IBS. Yoga is thought to address both the stress or anxiety associated with IBS and can address pelvic floor relaxation as treatment. Most of the studies in the review suggested the beneficial effects of yoga for people with IBS compared to no intervention. When compared to a walking program as an intervention, both helped improve the quality of life for those with IBS. They did note that the home yoga program was more difficult to maintain for the participants compared to the walking program. The study concludes the effect of bias in the studies is undetermined, but overall incorporating yoga into the treatment plan for IBS can improve symptoms and quality of life. Global guidelines for IBS consider physical activity and relaxation techniques as suitable, nonpharmacological treatments . 

Physical therapy can be beneficial in the treatment of IBS to establish an exercise program, provide manual therapy, improve pelvic floor function and coordination, and discuss ways to improve stool consistency.

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