Chiropractic for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

It is estimated that close to 200 million people world-wide suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD. COPD is one of the most common lung diseases, and may occur as chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus, or as Emphysema, which involves destruction of the lungs over time. Many COPD sufferers experience a combination of both forms. While smoking is the leading cause of COPD, many people develop COPD from exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace, exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution or from frequent use of cooking fire without proper ventilation.

Healthy and COPD Lung Diagram

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Copd_versus_healthy_lung.jpg
 
This image shows what a lung with COPD looks like in comparison to a healthy lung.

While a chiropractor may be the last medical professional a COPD sufferer thinks about seeking help from, chiropractors actually the ability to assist in preventing and controlling this serious respiratory problem. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) conducted a study in 2002 that found that chiropractic manipulation was able to help improve chest wall compliance and diaphragmatic function in COPD patients, producing an immediate positive change in pulmonary function parameters and chest wall mobility. Adjustments of minor vertebral subluxations, especially in the cervical spine, have led to rapid improvement in upper respiratory symptoms in many case studies.

So how exactly can chiropractic manipulation and spinal adjustments help alleviate your COPD symptoms? To understand this, it is important to know that vertebral subluxation can irritate your nervous system, which can cause paraspinal muscle spasms and inflammation of your lung tissue. These spasms can block your lymphatic system, taking away your body’s ability to properly drain foreign antigenic material and mucus from your lungs. This, in turn, can cause your COPD symptoms to flare up, making it difficult for you to breathe as your chest wall mobility in inhibited. When your chiropractor makes adjustments to your spinal alignment, the irritation of your nervous system is alleviated and your lymphatic system is able to better function. This, in turn, makes breathing easier by reducing the inflammation and swelling in your chest.

While there is no cure for COPD, a combination of chiropractic medicine with other forms of traditional and alternative medicine can make your symptoms more manageable and reduce the number of flare ups you experience. In addition to regular adjustments at your chiropractor’s office, it is recommended that you reduce the air pollution in your home, avoid inhaling cold air, stay away from people who smoke and slowly increase the amount of exercise you do. Additionally, you may find symptom alleviation from the use of inhalers, inhaled steroids, anti-inflammatory medications during flare ups, oxygen therapy, and in severe cases, from a breathing machine. Following a proper diet of fish, poultry and lean meat, as well a nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, can also help improve your COPD symptoms as well as your overall health. Bluestone Chiropractic Group has several doctors who are Registered Dieticians in addition to working as licensed chiropractors who can help you develop a dietary plan that meets your individual needs.

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