What is COPD and How Can Osteopathy Help?

COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a term used to describe any progressive lung disease. COPD could include Refractory Asthma, Emphysema, and Chronic Bronchitis. Currently, COPD is an incurable and progressive disease, usually characterised by breathlessness. While it’s incurable at the moment, with the right treatment and diagnosis, sufferers of COPD can manage their condition and enjoy a full life for many years.

If you suspect you may have COPD, it’s advised to contact your doctor for further examinations. COPD may be diagnosed by use of chest X-Ray, a lung function test (spirometry) and blood tests to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

We’ve put together a list of things you can do to help ease the pain often and discomfort often associated with COPD:

  1. Stop Smoking – Smoking can cause a plethora of issues especially to the respiratory system. Stopping smoking can help treat COPD and improve quality of life.
  2. Medication – After diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe some medication, this can include antibiotics to treat or prevent infections, inflammatory medications to reduce the inflammation of the airway walls and bronchodilators to open narrow airways.
  3. Antioxidants – Antioxidants are naturally occurring in many foods including; apples, berries, plums, olive oil and fish. Antioxidants help reduce damage caused by free radicals which has been linked to inflammation of the airways when the imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants leans too much towards oxidants.
  4. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) – This treatment can be used in conjunction with medication and other lifestyle changes to help improve the symptoms of COPD.

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is a set of techniques used to manipulate the body back into it’s natural balance. There haven’t been many studies on the effects of Osteopathic treatments for COPD, but the ones that have been conducted conclude that OMT along with Pulmonary Rehabilitation may help increase Residual Volume (RV) and in time help patients lead a better life.

When an osteopath sees a patient with COPD they will carefully examine the biomechanics of breathing. As breathing is such a complex mechanical process the osteopath, with their knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics, is in a unique place to evaluate your breathing both in quality and volume.

The osteopath will closely look at the movement of your ribs, diaphragm and the state of the muscles that effect and control breathing.

In addition, the osteopath will carefully examine your posture as this will have a bearing on breathing. A variety of techniques will be applied which include stretching of the ribs, chest wall and diaphragm. A variety of exercises will be prescribed to improve quality of breathing. The GHC 10 tips to better breathing will be applied as part of your patient care plan.

The Good Health Centre osteopaths have an in-house a capnograph which can asses the amount and ratio of gasses as you breath in and out. This is a great tool to assess your current state of health and will also be used to monitor progress.

To sum up, Osteopathic treatment is available to alleviate some of the symptoms of COPD, but for the best results, use OMT in line with doctors prescribed medicine,  stop smoking and stick to a balanced diet.

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Author of this page

Ami Sevi

Ami Sevi - Head of Osteopathy

Ami qualified as an osteopath with honours in 1988 from the British School of Osteopathy London. He subsequently worked and studied with some of the leading osteopaths worldwide.

The Institute of Osteopathy British Institute of Osteopathy General Osteopathic Council British Acupuncture Council Accredited Voluntary Register