Assisting asthmatics by improving breathing


Approximately 5.4 million people suffer from Asthma in the Uk. It is a breathing condition that affects the airways going into the lungs. Something usually irritates these airways causing them to narrow, with the lining becoming inflamed and swollen. This is often accompanied by mucus or phlegm which can further narrow the airways. This makes it harder to breathe which then give you the symptoms of Asthma: Coughing , wheezing, shortness of breath and a tight chest. The trigger for these symptoms can be wide and varied and I would recommend looking at the Asthma website for more details (

Unfortunately there is no cure for Asthma; a range of medicines prescribed by your GP will reduce the symptoms enough to allow you to continue with your day. This will directly work on the airways that have become narrowed. From an osteopathic perspective restriction in your breathing through Asthma may well lead to restrictions within the mechanics of breathing.


The mechanics of breathing are complex but involve not only the opening of the airways to fill the lungs but also use of the Diaphragm, rib cage, and accessory respiratory muscles which attach to the rib cage. If the attack is severe, the airways become very narrow and the diaphragm, which is the main breathing muscle, has to call on the rib, neck and abdominal muscles to help. The result is more energy being used. This may cause severe breathlessness and can lead to exhaustion. Long term demands put upon these structures by Asthma suffers can lead to postural adaptation and altered breathing mechanics relying more on the accessory respiratory muscles.

The Diaphragm:

Not only is this the main muscle in respiration but also it acts as a pump and assists in fluid dynamics through the body. It helps in returning venous blood to the heart and moving lymph through the body. With a condition such as Asthma the diaphragm may be under constant contraction and therefore not able to relax. This may not only have an effect on your breathing but also on your circulation too.

Osteopathic Treatment:

Osteopathy offers assistance to asthma sufferers by working on all aspects of the breathing mechanism, including the ribs, spine, diaphragm and other muscles of breathing. This will improve the overall breathing dynamic of that individual, improve the circulation and assist in reducing symptoms. It must however be understood that this is not a replacement therapy for medication prescribed by your Doctor and it is not recommended to stop with this form of treatment.