Hunch over and take a deep breath. How does that feel? Now straighten your spine and take a deep breath. Do you feel a difference in constriction and your ability to breathe? Of course, you do. The spine is the literal backbone of your entire body, providing core structure as well as housing and protecting your body’s central nervous system, which reaches out to all parts of the body, including the lungs.
Founded on the theory that compressed nerves negatively affect areas of the body, and alleviating that compression can help nerves stay healthy and function properly, chiropractic medicine offers treatments that can help with breathing and lung function, even in patients who struggle because of serious lung disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Breathing is controlled by a breathing center in the brain stem from which nerve cells send signals to the diaphragm and muscles in between the ribs. In people with conditions like lung disease or COPD, the chest wall in this area can’t move well, which can mean that these nerves are compressed. Chiropractic treatments not only increase joint mobility, they also decrease muscle tension, so applying these techniques to the chest wall can reduce rigidity, thereby creating less work for the respiratory muscles and making it easier for patients to breathe longer and deeper.
“Chiropractic adjustments help you breathe better by taking pressure off the nerves and muscles that control your lungs and diaphragm,” explains Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic. “Breathing is very physical, so it is affected by your posture, stress, and tension as well as muscle, spinal, and rib-joint restrictions or injuries and inflammation in the chest and back.”
In the past few decades, many chiropractic studies have been performed to see what role chiropractic treatment plays in treating patients with lung disorders. Following are a handful of those studies that illustrate the benefits of seeking out chiropractic treatment.
Swedish Survey: In one study, 87 Swedish chiropractors were surveyed on the types of symptoms improved in their patients who received treatments. Of them, 26% of the chiropractors reported that their treated patients found it easier to breathe.
Australian Therapy: A study was conducted in Australia on 15 patients with COPD of moderate severity. Of the patients, 5 received soft tissue therapy only; 5 received soft tissue therapy and spinal manipulation; and the remaining 5 received soft tissue therapy, spinal manipulation, and exercise. Lung function was measured before and after the four weeks of treatment. Those who received all three treatments reported better lung capacity and could walk longer distances, and all patients who received manipulations reported less gasping for breath.
Improvements in Long-Term COPD: A case study published in the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics reported the of a 53-year-old man with 20 years of COPD undergoing chiropractic treatments coupled with nutritional advice and exercise. Significant improvements were noted in forced vital capacity, coughing, fatigue, and ease of breathing.
Respiratory Disease: In September 2016, The Journal of Physical Therapy Science released a study around 30 patients (aged 20–38) suffering from respiratory disease. Half the subjects were given chiropractic adjustments while the others underwent a fake therapy with neutral impact to respiratory health. The researchers reported that chiropractic care “significantly increased” a patient’s amount of air they could inhale and exhale while the control group showed no change.
Manipulations for COPD: Reported in The Research Status of Spinal Manipulative Therapy, a case study was performed on patients with COPD being treated with osteopathic manipulation. Of the patients with bronchial asthma, 95% said they benefited, and 92% of patients overall stated being able to walk greater distances, having fewer colds, experiencing less coughing, and having less dyspnea than before treatment.
Juvenile Chronic Respiratory Study: A case reported in the ACA Journal of Chiropractic tells the story of a 5½-year-old girl with a four-year history of presumed “bronchial congestion.” Diagnosed with pneumonia “several times a year” since she was 18 months old, the girl had suffered from attacks of “bronchitis” as well as congestion and wheezing after sleeping or running. The girl underwent chiropractic treatments. Two days after the first treatment, the mother reported less coughing. After the third visit, the child was breathing normally. After 12 adjustments over a three-month period, her chief complaints did not recur, and four years later, the issues had not returned.
“From the research, we know that chiropractic adjustments can improve your lung capacity by a significant amount, typically in the 5–10% range, and that can occur with a single adjustment,” summarizes Dr. Gross.
At Quality Care Chiropractic, adds Dr. Gross, “We have had several elderly patients diagnosed with COPD who had to use an oxygen tank all day long. After a few months of regular chiropractic care, all of them no longer needed their oxygen tank. One patient reported a 37% increase in lung capacity when measured at his regular pulmonary therapy sessions.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with breathing or lung capacity for any reason, contact us at Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225. We can answer your questions and help you breathe your way back whole-body health.Schedule an Appointment