SIBO – How Can PT Help Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth?

SIBODid you know physical therapy can help with gastrointestinal issues? One diagnosis physical therapy can help with is SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. SIBO happens when there is an overgrowth of the normal bacteria in the small intestine. Let’s cover what SIBO is and how physical therapy can help!

What are symptoms of SIBO?

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Excessive gas
  • Fatigue
  • Food sensitivities and reactions

What are causes and risk factors of SIBO?

  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Diverticulosis
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Adhesions and complications caused by previous abdominal surgery

What are some complications of SIBO?

Other than not feeling great with some of the symptoms you may have with SIBO, there are a few complications with unresolved SIBO.

  • Poor absorption of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins – Excess bacteria breaks down bile salts which help with fat digestion, causing diarrhea and incomplete digestion of fats. The mucous lining of the small intestine may also be harmed. This affects the absorption of carbohydrates and protein. Overall, this can lead to diarrhea, malnutrition, and weight loss.
  • Vitamin deficiency – Due to the incomplete absorption of fats, the body cannot fully absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Weakened bones – Due to poor calcium absorption, this can lead to bone weakening (osteoporosis).
  • Kidney stones – Another effect of poor calcium absorption is the development of kidney stones.

How can physical therapy help?

A pelvic health therapist is trained in treating gastrointestinal issues. This can help reduce symptoms of SIBO. We can help relieve constipation and improve pelvic floor dysfunction, whether it be weakness or tightness. We can also perform visceral physical therapy which can help reduce any abdominal or pelvic adhesions. Some other symptoms that we can help with are low back pain, pelvic pain, and any urinary symptoms that are present.

If you struggle with constipation due to SIBO, pelvic health therapy can help with that as well! Depending on what is going on with your pelvic floor, we can work on manual therapy techniques to help with any tight/restricted muscles of the pelvis, perform visceral mobilizations, retrain pelvic floor muscles to help with bowel movements, teach breathing techniques, and help with bowel habits such as posture!

What are some other treatment ideas?

  • FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), are a certain type of fermented carbohydrates that can cause these symptoms. Therefore, a “low FODMAP diet” is recommended for those who have SIBO to reduce symptoms.
  • Antibiotics or natural agents

It is recommended to have holistic care when treating SIBO, so reach out to your primary care physician, a dietitian, and a pelvic health physical therapist!

  1. Mayo Clinic