Osteopathy and asthma

Statistics suggest that the asthma problem is on the increase with over 3 million sufferers in the UK. As more people are diagnosed with the condition there is an ever-increasing reliance on medication aimed at relieving or controlling asthma symptoms. It is a complex problem with many possible aggravating factors.

Osteopathic treatment will not cure asthma but it can help to improve the breathing mechanism itself. By improving the mechanics of breathing, as well as correcting postural problems commonly associated with asthma, the body becomes better able to cope with the breathing restrictions. This should improve breathing generally and also reduce the need for medication.

Asthma sufferers characteristically have shallow, rapid breathing, utilising only the upper chest rather than spreading the workload over the whole chest. Osteopathic treatment aims to provide improved movement within the rib cage and upper back as well as encouraging the diaphragm and lower chest to become more involved in the breathing process.

Rounding of the shoulders is typical in chronic asthma sufferers. It starts with attempts to make breathing easier during an attack by using additional respiratory muscles of the neck but it often becomes a habitual posture. This posture actually hinders the whole process of breathing and creates abnormal muscular tension patterns. Osteopathic treatment can encourage the shoulders to fall back to allow the chest cavity to expand more freely and the diaphragm to stretch down so improving lung capacity and lower rib movement.

Exercise such as Pilates and Yoga, that incorporates breathing techniques and aims to improve spinal, rib and chest movement can be very beneficial, as can homeopathy in treating the aggravating factors of the asthma such as allergies and stress.

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