Osteopathy as a Treatment for Sinusitis

Osteopathy as a Treatment for Sinusitis

Osteopathy is commonly sought to treat musculoskeletal ailments. However, osteopaths can also treat sinus infections, sinusitis or sinus congestion.

The sinuses are four air-filled chambers found in the cheeks, forehead and around the eyes. The primary functions of the sinuses are to enable us to lift our heads, allowing our voices to resonate, and clean the air we breathe in. The lymphatic membranes that line the sinuses, trap any bacteria which is removed from the sinuses by either swallowing the mucus or pushing it out via the nasal cavity (blowing your nose). Sinusitis occurs when the passages that allow for the drainage of the mucus becomes restricted and the membranes lining the sinuses are inflamed.

Sinusitis is one of the most common causes of pain, inflammation and obstructions in the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Feeling full or heavy around the eyes.
  • Trouble breathing (unable to take full deep breaths).
  • Occasionally getting a fever.
  • Feeling tired
  • Yellow-green mucus coming out from the nose.
  • Postnasal drip, that can result in a sore throat.
  • Decreased sense of smell.
  • A foul taste or smell when sneezing.
  • Tenderness over the sinus.
  • Swelling of the nasal septum.
  • A consistent cough
  • Tension and soreness in the neck.

There are different types of sinusitis that can occur:
1. Acute bacterial sinusitis is the onset of cold symptoms such as a runny stuffed nose and facial pain that does not go away after 10 days, or seems to improve only to return, with worst symptoms than the original onset.

  1. Chronic sinusitis refers to nasal congestion, trouble with mucus drainage, facial pain and pressure and a decreased sense of smell (symptoms of sinusitis) that last for at least twelve weeks.
  2. Subacute sinusitis describes symptoms of sinusitis that last for around four to twelve weeks.
  3. Recurrent acute sinusitis is the term used to describe the symptoms that occur more than four times a year and last less than two weeks each time.

Anybody can get a sinus infection. However, if you are a person with nasal allergies, nasal polyps, asthma or an abnormal nose structure you are more susceptible to sinusitis. Smoking can also increase the risk of a sinus infection. A few typical causes of sinusitis include:

  • The common cold.
  • Nasal and seasonal allergies, including allergies to mould.
  • Polyps (growths).
  • A deviated septum. The septum is the line of cartilage that divides your nose. A deviated septum means that it isn’t straight, so that it is closer to the nasal passage on one side of your nose, causing a blockage.
  • A weak immune system from illness or medications.

Most sinus infections last from a couple of days to a few weeks and are not a serious medical concern, but if left untreated, sinusitis can lead to further complications. Temporary relief from sinusitis can be found, by taking medication to reduce the inflammation or dry up the sinuses but this does not deal with the root cause of the problem.

As always osteopathy follows a holistic approach. Regarding sinusitis, osteopathy aims to improve breathing, reduce headaches ease any of the other symptoms relayed to this condition. An osteopathic practitioner will create a treatment plan that focuses on working around the face, sinuses, neck thoracic inlet and upper back to help with the drainage of mucus from the sinus cavities and to reduce the tension that can intensify sinusitis.