The underlying mechanism, efficiency, and safety of manual therapy for functional gastrointestinal disorders: A narrative review

Mila Goldenberg, Leonid Kalichman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Functional gastrointestinal disorders encompass a range of conditions resulting from complicated gut-brain interactions, which can negatively impact sufferers' lives. They are prevalent in clinical practice and the community, with a lifetime prevalence of almost 40 % worldwide. The challenge in diagnosing these disorders lies in the non-specificity of symptoms and the absence of reliable biomarkers. The existing literature suggests a multidisciplinary approach, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, dietary changes, psychotropic drug therapy, and improving gastrointestinal motility. Manual therapy applied to the abdomen and adjacent areas can potentially enhance gastrointestinal motility. Objectives: This review aims to examine the types of manual interventions, their mechanisms, efficiency, and safety in managing functional disorders of the digestive system. Methods: We searched PubMed and Google Scholar in English from May 2022 to February 2023 with no date restriction. We prioritized systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and clinical trials and did not exclude any data sources. Results and conclusion: s: Initial evidence suggests that manual interventions on the abdomen and adjacent areas are effective in managing functional gastrointestinal disorders, with no reported adverse events and relatively low costs. However, further studies with rigorous scientific methodology are needed to understand better the unknown dimensions influencing the outcomes observed with abdominal massage and its positive impact on patients. Manual abdominal techniques are a promising therapy option for functional gastrointestinal disorders, and their efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness should be further explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • Abdominal massage
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders
  • Manual abdominal therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Visceral manipulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The underlying mechanism, efficiency, and safety of manual therapy for functional gastrointestinal disorders: A narrative review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this