Asthma and related respiratory issues affect over 34 million U.S. individuals belonging to all age groups according to the reports of Center for Disease Control (CDC). Asthma symptoms are marked by sudden tightening or constriction of smooth muscles of the respiratory tract leading to cough, shortness of breath, wheezing in chest and labored breathing that may progress to life threatening respiratory collapse if left untreated.
Although a number of medical therapies are available to control the symptoms of asthma and to decrease the frequency and severity of attacks; but unfortunately not all the people respond to pharmacological interventions. The result is frequent attacks that interfere with quality of life and day to day functioning.
Research data and clinical statistics suggest that almost 50% of all asthma patients are in the pediatric age group and are twice as likely of developing life threatening respiratory failure. Moreover, poorly managed asthma directly interferes with normal growth and development processes in children suggesting the need of alternative medical treatments to decrease the requirement of pharmacological agents and to improve symptom-free survival in asthmatics.
Physical therapy has long been known to support, stabilize and strengthen the respiratory system and a number of randomized controlled trials suggest that chest physiotherapy helps in recovering from severe attacks of asthma. Regular physical therapy helps in improving breathing and respiratory efforts that decreases the requirement of steroids and inhalers.
Specialized physical therapy techniques like expiration with the glottis open in the lateral posture (ELTGOL), oscillating positive expiratory pressure (using the FLUTTER device) and postural drainage are equally effective in improving oxygen saturation and removal of lung secretions to improve the therapy outcome in chronic unstable asthmatics as suggested by the study conducted by Andrea Bellone and published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Physical therapy exercises helps in improving the rate and depth of respiration and stability and strength of intrinsic muscles of respiration like the diaphragm; however, if you are suffering from other respiratory illnesses besides asthma, physical therapy exercises are not indicated (unless suggested by your healthcare provider). Other contraindications of physical therapy exercises in chronic asthmatics include major co-morbid medical conditions that may worsen with exercise or if you are on systemic corticosteroid therapy.
In chronic asthmatics that respond poorly to medications or physical therapy, other alternative therapies like chiropractic care must be considered. A research report published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology by Jeffrey W. Balon suggested that chiropractic manipulation tremendously helps in improving treatment outcomes and improving quality of life in chronic asthmatics. According to Balon, although there is no clear and definitive proof that spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) can be used as the primary therapeutic tool for the management of asthma, most people report improvement in the symptomatology and frequency of asthma attacks. Chiropractic therapy can be employed as an adjuvant to medical therapy for maximal relief.
NH. Nielsen conducted a study on 31 patients within the age range of 1844 years at National University Hospital's Out-patient Clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark. Nielsen then randomly assigned the study population in two groups; one group was advised chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment and other group underwent sham chiropractic spinal manipulation for a total duration of about 4 weeks (2 sessions/ week). After the follow-up period, it was observed that patients reported 34% decrease in the severity and frequency of asthma attacks (also associated with a 36% improvement in the bronchial hyper-reactivity of respiratory smooth muscle cells.
It is recommended to speak to your healthcare provider to ascertain what treatment methods are best for you.