“I think this is helping me breathe better.” That is what one of my patients said after he had received several chiropractic treatments. He’d come to me originally for a sharp pain that he was having in his shoulder blade area. As I treated him for that pain he noticed it seemed to help his breathing. He’d had asthma since childhood, used an inhaler daily and, despite the best efforts and intentions of therapists and doctors, his asthma condition persisted. In my 33 years of chiropractic practice it is not uncommon for me to hear my patients saying something along these lines after receiving their chiropractic treatment. They notice a definite improvement in their breathing.
Many might wonder how chiropractic care can help patients to have improved breathing. Actually, there is a scientific basis as well as a common-sense reason why a person might breathe easier. This article will describe how chiropractic care can improve one’s ability to breathe and the implications this has on improving lifestyle and even longevity.
Let’s first begin with some simple anatomy and physiology. We all know that our lungs are in the upper chest area. They function like a bellows. On inspiration the lungs expand and on expiration the lungs deflate. It is important that the muscles between our ribs, the intercostal muscles, function properly in allowing us to breathe normally. The intercostal muscles are innervated by nerves which exit from our spine. If the nerves are irritated or pinched the intercostal muscles won’t perform properly and the person won’t be able to take a full, deep breath. Also, our ribs form movable joints with the breast bone in the front of our body and with the spine in the back of our body. There should be a subtle rotational movement at those joints. But sometimes those joints can get somewhat locked up or fixated. If this happens it is another reason why a person might not be able to fully breathe deeply. A chiropractic treatment, sometimes called an adjustment or a manipulation, to the mid back has been found to remove irritation from the nerves of that area and can help restore normal motion at the rib joints. This care will then allow proper inflation and deflation of the lungs. Of course, if one can take a full breath they are able to deliver abundant oxygen to the blood stream which we all know will help with many aspects of health.
A recent research study in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, August 2018 revealed improved pulmonary function when participants received chiropractic treatment, called an adjustment, to the mid back which is known as the thoracic spine. The research study showed an improvement of measurement when the patients exhaled out a full breath.
Not breathing to full lung capacity has been shown to be associated with increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and other potentially life shortening cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, a long-term follow-up study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 1996 showed that subjects that had good breathing ability at age 50 were more likely to survive to age 75.
Anyone with cardiovascular diseases and problems should of course consult with the proper medical healthcare provider to be certain there is not an imminent emergency situation. Once it is established that the patient is medically stable an appointment with a chiropractor is an option. The chiropractic profession has had decades of experience in treating patients with a safe, nonsurgical, medication free method to help give improvement to patients who have various breathing difficulties.