05 May Osteopathic Treatment for Asthma
Asthma is a chronic lung disease and a common respiratory condition. Asthma affects all age groups but often emerges in childhood. This disease is characterised by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. These attacks differ in frequency and severity for each individual.
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the air passages in the lungs, which affects the sensitivity of the nerve endings in the airways, causing them to be easily irritated. During an asthma attack the lining in the air passages swell causing the airways to narrow, which reduces the flow of air in and out of the lungs.
Factors that contribute to the cause of asthma:
- exposure to cigarette smoke
- climate change
- physical exertion
- emotional stress
- low birth weight
- dampness in your home and working environment.
- the use of antibiotics at an early age
- viral infections
Triggers for an asthma attack include:
- cold air and climate change
- respiratory infections
- irritant inhalations
- dust mites and pollen
- allergic reactions
The signs and symptoms of asthma include:
- dry cough
- tightness in the chest
- chest pain
- dyspnoea – difficulty or laboured breathing.
How to prevent an attack, as there is no cure for asthma:
- being educated about the disease and the medications that are used.
- Following your doctor’s instructions on how to keep the symptoms under control.
- Identify the aggravating factor such as dust or smoke that irritate you.
- Keep a record of recurrent symptoms and try to maintain and control them.
- Go to your doctor for regular check-ups.
Osteopathic treatment for asthma:
The aim of osteopathy for asthma is to improve the respiratory function. The treatment will improve movement within the rib cage and upper back, whilst supporting the diaphragm and lower chest to become more involved in the breathing process.
To improve the mobility of the rib cage, an osteopath will use gentle rhythmic movements and stretching along with a soft tissue techniques. Osteopaths will also work on relieving tension in the diaphragm, ribs, cervical spine and Thoracic spine. When we breath in the diaphragm is pushed down and flattened to increase the space for our lungs to expand. At the same time, the diaphragm also massages the digestive organs. If the diaphragm is tight with tension, not only will it lead to breathing difficulties such as hyperventilation which leads to asthma attacks. It can also cause constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
Osteopaths will also work on the accessory muscles of respiration to relax the tension in the muscles and reduce the restrictions placed in the chest and ribs. Osteopathic techniques can also be used to release sinus tension and to remove excess mucus build-up, as this build-up can cause blockages in the airways. Because the neck has a neurological connection to the lungs and diaphragm, it will also be treated to relieve the musculoskeletal symptoms of asthma.
Children with asthma are likely to respond favourably to osteopathic treatment, than compared to adults, as the condition is detected early enough to help relieve symptoms. Osteopathy will only benefit asthma patients when it is used together with their prescribed medications and exercises.