Happy New Year to everyone! Hopefully we’re feeling refreshed and looking forward to a healthy 2012. This month’s news focuses on respiratory health, and how Osteopathy can get involved in helping those who struggle. Read on through the January posts. The exercises can be done even if you don’t suffer from a respiratory ailment, it is beneficial to try and maintain efficient breathing mechanics.


These exercises shouldn’t cause pain, if you experience a problem, stop the exercise and consult your Osteopath or other medical practitioner. If you have an existing complaint, it would be wise to consult your practitioner to check these exercises are appropriate for you.


Laying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Breathe in through your nose and try and completely fill up your lungs with air. Make sure you use your lower ribs and diaphragm. Relax and breathe out through your mouth. To try and see if you’re doing this, place a scarf under your lower ribcage, and hold the two ends at the front. When you breathe in, you should feel the scarf pull if you’re working the right area. Alternatively place your hands over the lower ribcage, feel them rise, and feel your ribcage expand outwards and into the floor.
Focus on this for a couple of minutes, just relax and don’t hyperventilate. It may take time to get used to this pattern of breathing.


From standing, raise one arm above your head and side-bend in the opposite direction to the arm you have raised. You may use your other arm to hold the forearm and increase the stretch. Take a deep breath into your lower ribs, to further increase the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.


Sitting on a chair, grab hold of the seat base on one side. Lean your body and your neck away from the side of the seat you have hold of. You should feel a stretch on the side of your neck, hold for 10 relaxed breaths, and then repeat on the opposite side.


WHY PUFFY KNEES CAN BE A SIGN OF “SILENT” ARTHRITIS (DAILY MAIL, ROGER DOBSON) – This article highlights how often symptoms of arthritis can be ignored, in this case the article is particularly talking about Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). It reports that if symptoms aren’t treated within 3 months of their onset, then there is a risk of long term joint damage, disability and pain. The article states that many ignore symptoms such as pain, stiffness and swelling. Putting it all down to the ageing process, or over-doing things.
The exact cause of RA remains unknown – a genetic predisposition, or possible viral/bacterial infection may trigger it? There is no cure, but there is a range of medications that can be used to alleviate the symptoms. Sometimes surgery may be indicated. The article talks about an injection which is currently being developed, it’s purpose is to stop the immune system from overreacting. Apparently results so far are promising, and seem to help the worse effected patients.
The key symptoms to look out for are early morning joint stiffness lasting longer than 30 minutes. Persistent swelling of one joint or more, especially in the hands. Also pain when the joints are squeezed. MY THOUGHTS, RA is a terrible joint disorder and can cause terrible deformity and disability in those worse effected. Not everyone who suffers morning joint stiffness, pain and swelling will have RA. But its important for people to observe their bodies and report any persistent issues as appropriate.

SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT: WOMAN BANISHES MIGRAINES…BY HAVING FROWN MUSCLE REMOVED. (DAILY MAIL, CLAIRE BATES) – A 47 year old lady having struggled over 3 decades with migraine headaches has finally become head pain free. She has had an operation to remove the corrugator muscle (frown muscle). She had to have many tests to assess the potential effectiveness of this procedure for her, the surgery was carried out in Berlin. MY THOUGHTS, there are many different reasons why people suffer migraines, and it is a problem that is poorly understood. Any procedure which makes such a dramatic transformation to someone’s life is wonderful, but its unlikely to be the solution for all migraine sufferers.


Osteopathy can treat respiratory function via the musculoskeletal system. In acute and chronic disease we change the way we breathe to deal with the problem, especially with chronic (long term) issues where these changes become adaptations over a period of time. The system develops “bad habits” and over-relies on areas, often resulting in pain.

Osteopathy works on the areas directly related to breathing, so the diaphragm muscle, ribcage and associated muscles, are commonly effected. The ribs and diaphragm attach to the spine, so often this area is strained and can become symptomatic. A good example of this would be in the case of a persistent cough. Very commonly we will place greater emphasis on what are termed the accessory muscles of breathing. We have to when there is a disease process, it’s a coping mechanism. There are several muscles we utilise more, for example those that travel up into the neck from the upper ribs – scalenes, and those that travel across the chest and attach to the ribs – pectoralis minor.

Poor breathing mechanics can alter an individual’s posture, so an Osteopath would look at a whole individual to assess the areas effected and work accordingly.

The types of respiratory problems that very commonly present to Osteopaths are asthma, bronchitis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), people who are very stressed, and the common cough and cold. Obviously there is a need in some of these instances for appropriate medication to be given, and for the patient to be monitored by their GP. An Osteopath won’t cure these conditions, but Osteopathy may help when people struggle to manage their symptoms.

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