To date, there has been no research that conclusively shows chiropractic care can influence asthma. Of the research that does exist one study showed no benefit, while another study shows a substantially higher quality of life and lower asthma severity. A 2001 study showed the quality of life substantially higher and asthma severity substantially lower, in those receiving chiropractic care. However, there were no changes in demonstrated in lung function.
Asthma is a common breathing disorder characterized by episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways. A cough may also be associated with asthma.
It is thought that both environmental triggers, as well as genetic factors, may influence asthma. Environmental factors include:
- Respiratory infections
- Dust mites, pollens, moulds, animal fur (such as dogs and cats)
- Cigarette smoke or air pollutants
- Some food additives or medicines (such as aspirin)
- Changes in weather – especially cold weather
A focus of care is addressing the postural and muscle changes that may occur with asthma individuals. Spinal adjustments to the upper back and lower neck, and soft tissue techniques to the diaphragm and intercostal muscles are often used. Breathing exercises that attempt to improve lung capacity may also be helpful.
Most people make that assumption that just because they are breathing, they must be doing it correctly. In fact, most asthma individuals (and many non-asthma individuals) breathe into their upper chest. This is termed ‘paradoxical’ breathing.
Proper breathing is abdominal breathing, which uses the diaphragm to bring air into the lower lung fields.
To perform this, lie on your back, knees bent and place one hand on top of the other over the belly button. As you inhale, allow air to enter your lower lung fields. Your belly should rise up first and higher than your chest. As you exhale relax the stomach muscles and repeat.
Performing this alone can help alleviate discomfort in the upper back, lower back and neck areas.
For more information look at www.nationalasthma.org.au