Symptomatology correlations between the diaphragm and irritable bowel syndrome, 2020

Topics: irritable bowel syndrome, pain, diaphragm, low back pain, chronic headache

Authors: Bruno Bordoni, Bruno Morabito


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most debilitating and common gastrointestinal disorders; nevertheless, its pathophysiology is still unclear. It affects 11% of the world’s population, and is characterized by alternating periods of pain and/or motility disorders with periods of remission and without any evidence of any structural and functional organic variation. It has been recently proposed that an altered contractile ability of the diaphragm muscle might adversely influence intestinal motility. The text reviews the diaphragm’s functions, anatomy, and neurological links in correlation with the presence of chronic symptoms associated to IBS, like chronic low back pain, chronic pelvic pain, chronic headache, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction, vagus nerve inflammation, and depression and anxiety. The interplay between an individual’s breath dynamic and intestinal behaviour is still an unaddressed point in the physiopathology of IBS, and the paucity of scientific studies should recommend further research to better understand the importance of breathing in this syndrome.

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