Gastric Reflux Pain - Its Symptoms And How Physiotherapy Works

Most people experience heartburn occasionally. Sometimes, they won’t even understand it when it occurs. In some cases, gastric reflux can be gentle and may happen after eating larger meals, causing heartburn or pain.

What is Gastric Reflux Pain?

Gastric reflux pain is a condition in which the stomach contents are pushed back from the stomach into the esophagus or food pipe. Food reaches the mouth to the stomach through the esophagus. Gastric Reflux can irritate the food pipe and result in heartburn and other symptoms.

Causes of Gastric Reflux Pain

While eating, food attains from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. A ring of muscle fibers in the lower esophagus restricts swallowed food from moving back up. When this ring of muscle does not lock all the way, stomach contents can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastric reflux. Reflux may cause various symptoms. Harsh stomach acids can also ravage the lining of the esophagus.


Over time, chronic inflammation in the esophagus can cause the following troubles :

1) Inflammation of the tissue in the esophagus

  • - Stomach acid can break down tissue in the esophagus, inducing inflammation, bleeding, and sometimes an open sore or ulcer. Esophagitis can cause throat pain and make swallowing difficult.

2) Narrowing of the esophagus

  • - Damage to the lower esophagus from stomach acid causes scar tissue to introduce. This scar tissue narrows the food pathway, directing to problems with swallowing.

3) Precancerous changes to the esophagus

  • - Injury from acid can cause disruptions in the tissue lining of the lower esophagus. These changes are correlated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.


Common Symptoms

Some people with gastric reflux pain may experience no symptoms and not realize that they are undergoing acid reflux. Other people may experience symptoms that could range from mild to serious.

1) Heartburn

Heartburn can be experienced as pain or a burning feeling in the chest.

It may appear in the:

  • - Middle of the chest
  • - Area behind the breastbone
  • - Lower part of the chest

This burning sensation may shift and rise from the lower part of the breastbone up into the throat. This happens when stomach acid that travels back from the stomach into the throat strokes the esophagus lining. The feeling of heartburn can persist from a few minutes to a few hours.


2) Regurgitation

Gastric reflux will typically cause regurgitation. This pertains to the contents of the stomach traveling back into the throat. Which may cause an unusual taste in the mouth, like

  • - sour
  • - bitter
  • - food-like

The reason the taste may be sour or bitter is due to the existence of stomach acid in the mouth due to regurgitation.


Other possible symptoms that may arise due to gastric reflux include:

  • - inflammation in the gums
  • - nausea
  • - trouble swallowing
  • - pain swallowing and in the chest
  • - hoarse voice
  • - chronic cough
  • - cavities
  • - chronic sore throat
  • - laryngitis
  • - bad breath
  • - excess amount of saliva


How Does Physiotherapy Help?

A well-trained and experienced physiotherapist layouts a program that suits the individual's needs. Certain exercises can reduce blood flow to the gastrointestinal area, which causes gastric fluids to pool, directing inflammation and irritation. Also, certain body positions can put pressure on the stomach and chest, which may trigger symptoms. There is some physiotherapy management for acid reflux patients.

1) Visceral Manipulation: gentle manual techniques on internal organs. Visceral manipulation helps to relieve gastric reflux pain by improving mobility and motion of organs such as stomach, esophagus, heart, sphincter etc. Gastric reflux and neck pain are most commonly linked through viscerosomatic reflexes by means of phrenic nerve triggering and sensitization. 

2) Breathing exercises, particularly resisted inspiratory breathing exercises, can improve symptoms and diminish reflux. Breathing exercises support improving diaphragm strength and decreasing gastric reflux. Further advancing the exercises by applying resistance to make breathing more difficult and also help in strengthening.

3) Exercise may help deter or relieve the symptoms of gastric reflux pain by helping the patient lose weight and supporting good digestion.


VL Therapy, a popular physiotherapy center in Malaysia works successfully with hundreds of patients with various difficulties and is dedicated to providing a world-class service for every individual. A team of experienced educated and professional physiotherapists is providing various modern therapeutic treatment plans for gastric reflux pain to make all patients regain their health as per the need for looking not just at the immediate, but also to ensure that the relief becomes sustainable. To know more about the services please visit the official website